Cooper’s Hawk Visits Again

Cooper's hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper's hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk that put on quite a display in August of 2014 and that drops by periodically was here again yesterday afternoon, looking for a meal. It was putting on a different show this time, flying all around a pyracantha bush in which a small bird was hiding. The hawk did not like diving into that pyracantha bush, and made multiple attempts, After trying, it would land back on the fence or on a tree branch, and then fly around and try to enter the bush again.

After many attempts, it finally just dived head long into the pyrancantha bush, which flushed out the little bird that had been seeking refuge there. As soon as the little bird flew out (it was probably either a sparrow, a junco, or a finch; I did not get a good look), the hawk caught it, and did exactly what these hawks are known to to. It squeezed the prey in its talons until the little bird became motionless. The hawk then flew off into the trees to enjoy its meal.

Cooper's hawk with prey
Cooper’s Hawk with Prey in Its Talons

I did not have my camera handy at the kitchen window yesterday, so I simply watched the entire show from there. These images are from August, but this second shows clearly the typical way these hawks are known for treating their prey.

I live in a part of Albuquerque now known for its high concentration of Cooper’s hawks. From the Albuquerque Journal last year:

Cooper’s hawks are primarily woodland birds, and we have built an expansive urban forest across the Northeast Heights. The urban neighborhoods on the east side of the river are older, and therefore their trees are more mature, making them a better “forest” for the birds, Madden suggested.

This is a beautiful bird. I have come to accept that every now and then it will find a meal in my yard. Just so it doesn’t happen too often…

Cooper’s Hawk on a Cold, Wet Day

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk, Hunkered Down on a Cold, Wet Day in Albuquerque

It was a cold, wet morning in Albuquerque.

This Cooper’s Hawk has been a regular visitor since August. It usually moves around a lot, often flying in for a meal and leaving when it is finished eating.

It was hunkered down like this when I first saw it on this day, and it stayed for about three hours. (It must have had its breakfast before settling down in that tree).

Other than keeping a watchful eye on me when I was photographing it, it did not appear disturbed by my presence.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk Display
Cooper’s Hawk, Immature

This weekend, I had the opportunity to observe and photograph an immature Cooper’s hawk for almost an hour. I was very fortunate in actually seeing it fly into a juniper tree, where it was quite well hidden. I would not have seen it, had I not seen it fly in.

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk Display

Over the years, I have seen this and other hawks in the neighborhood. This is the longest time, however, I have had the opportunity to be “up close and personal” in such an intimate way with any wild animal, bird or otherwise. I knew at the time I had seen something extraordinary. Later, processing the images over several days, I saw many things I had not “seen” at the time. I have evolved from finding this an “interesting’ encounter to developing a tremendous amount of respect for this young hawk. This slide show contains many images from the encounter; some better than others. I include so many in hopes of sharing the depth of my encounter with this bird and its with me.

To see the image in full screen mode, click on the button in the lower right hand corner. To control the volume of the soundtrack, click on the button just to the left of it. I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Cooper's hawk
Close up of talon with prey

Albuquerque seems to be an ideal spot for the Cooper’s Hawk! I do indeed live in an “urban forest” area, and my own yard could be described as such. I feed many small birds at a variety of feeders, an enjoy seeing them daily and as they change seasonally.

I had accidentally seen this hawk fly into the tree. When I heard my scrub jays going nuts, I was concerned about a little fledgling scrub jay I have been attempting to encourage to come closer by feeding peanuts when I was out. I had been out and taken a few images, but the bird was hidden enough I did not try for more, initially. But, when I heard the jays, I thought if I went out, perhaps the hawk would fly someplace else for dinner that particular day. I took my camera, although I thought good images would not be possible.

The hawk had moved to a much better spot for photography. Still concerned about the fledgling jay, and with the hawk showing no signs of leaving, I decided to keep moving closer and closer. When I got close enough, this hawk put on an amazing display, which I interpreted (and still do) as a challenge to me. It was beautiful and mesmerizing; I had never seen anything like it. It seemed to go on forever, and I kept photographing. In reality, the entire display lasted 18 seconds!!!

Study on Cooper’s hawks in Albuquerque

Cornell Labs Information Page on Cooper’s Hawks

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