Posts tagged “Cooper’s Hawk

Proceed at Your Peril

**BE WARNED… this one is going to get gruesome y’all.

Raptors look as raptors do because raptors do what raptors do. They kill things daily. They look fierce because that brow ridge protects their precious eyes during all manner of prey related entanglements. That down-curved bill tapering to a point makes short work of anything that resembles flesh.

“they look so regal…” “they look so dignified and proud…” “they look so cool”

Yup, they look that way because they are predators. IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH TURN BACK NOW. SERIOUSLY. Two pictures down is a mouse getting its head and face removed. No joke.

A Red-tailed Hawk doesn’t have the slightest thing resembling mercy. It has a thing called hunger, and it must be satisfied. Cue head and face removal photo…

There is no caption that can fix this.

This girl Cooper’s Hawk is too young to hunt on her own so she gets meals delivered by her parents.

The adults often prepared the food by removing the feathers and head (a commission for the hunt). Any guesses on dinner? House Sparrow? House Finch?

Red-shouldered Hawk looking regal? Noble? Dignified?

Here it is eating a freshly caught pigeon. It worked on it for a long… long time.

This is all that remained.

All that pigeon now resides in the hawk’s crop and it is not a flattering look. I honestly wondered if it could even fly.

The answer was no… it could only waddle up into a tree and sit for hours. How’s that for dignified?

I’ll leave you with another fairly intense image of another bird of prey – the fiendishly cold-blooded Great Blue Heron.

Cooper’s Hawk on the Hunt

A scene from a songbird’s nightmare – a hatch-year male Cooper’s Hawk set on finding its next meal.

Coop Delight

There are reasons to love commuting to work. Red-eyed adult Cooper’s Hawks are among those reasons.

Point Reyes Moments

Wandering around Point Reyes with friends we found this adult Cooper’s Hawk watching the bird strewn hillside below. As high strung as they are (the Coops, not my friends) this one sat at the crest of this tree for 20 minutes… Normally we would have engaged in an epic sit-off but my role as host meant not subjecting my guests to the thrilling motionlessness of an epic sit-off. We moved on.

The Elk are always impressive and when the day gives way to evening, the changing light renders them even more so.

Near Laird’s Landing on Tomales Bay, a Common Loon called out. The sound carried over the water, echoed off rocks and returned, stretching the melancholic power of the call until it was washed over by the sound of Scoter wings thrumming in the distance. It brought me back to my Minnesota roots and a 2nd year Bald Eagle flying past only compounded the feeling.

Reflections turned the rising tide into a pool of liquid gold near the shore.

A Western Gull returns to earth in a land full of Turkey Vultures and bobcats, coyotes, foxes and raccoons.

The sun, having transformed the lagoon into a golden wonder, seemed to fall into the sea after the effort.

Urban Birds (Sneak Peek)

I’m going to start a three-part series on urban birds tomorrow. Here is a preview, a Cooper’s Hawk in San Francisco, waiting on the 21.

Kid Cooper’s Hawks

This newly fledged female Cooper’s Hawk is mantling to show her sibling it is time to back off. The two of them have been chasing each other through the trees and play time is over. Raptors usually mantle over prey that they want to hide from others. It makes them look bigger, more threatening, and covers up their meal. So it is a bit unusual to see this behaviour from below. I’m amazed at the feather tracts on the back of the head and neck. What a moment.

Is it some kind of woodland peacock or a Cooper’s Hawk? She kept it up for a solid minute, hopping gradually down the branch.

Here she is transformed into a different creature. She is still keeping an eye on her sister though. There are 4 fledglings, 3 females and a male. The females are busy chasing each other and constantly begging. The male is further along – out on his own, hunting, flying with purpose as he patrols a different patch of the arboretum. I think the males develop more quickly because they are smaller. It is probably advantageous to leave the nest before your three gigantic, voracious and, fierce sisters get their act together.

Here is the male out on patrol. Gaze fixed firmly on a distant hedgerow full of songbirds.

One of the females swoops overhead screaming all the way.

Another sister gets in a little quiet flight practice near a reservoir. Photographing Coops is challenging. They are so quick and unpredictable and once they get a little sense they become nearly invisible. I never once saw the parents who keep a very low profile. I hope the kids stick around awhile.

Fledgling Cooper’s Hawk with prey

A young Cooper’s Hawk with a pre-plucked and prepared meal from its parents.