Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cooper's Hawk

On Thursday, July 24th, K. and I watched a hawk chasing a dove. It disappeared behind the trees. A few minutes later, all the birds at our feeders took off and disappeared. We looked out and saw this beautiful bird on the power line behind our house.It's not a hawk I've seen before and at first I thought it was a falcon. t.beth (Firefly Forest) kindly identified it for me:
"Your bird in the photo is a bit strange, and overall I think that it looks like a transition between an immature and adult Cooper's Hawk. Cooper's Hawks have proportionally longer tails than falcons, and your bird has quite a long tail. The one odd feature of your bird is the dark line running downward from below the eye, which is characteristic of falcons. However, Merlins and Peregrines have very dark eyes, and your bird has a yellow eye like that of an immature Cooper's Hawk. Merlins are not found in Tucson during the summer (only in the winter), but Peregrines are rare year-round residents. Cooper's Hawks are common here in Tucson, and they nest in riparian areas."
On Friday morning, when it was pouring with rain, we saw the pair flying again. We watched one of the hawks land in a mesquite tree behind our property, spreading its beautifully banded wings and tail. It was a magnificent sight to see through binoculars, but not one I could photograph through the branches. However, I found a beautiful photo of a Cooper's Hawk in flight by Jim Zipp that shows just what it looked like. The pair hung out for a couple of days in the tall eucalyptus across the street.

The conservation status of Cooper's Hawks is described on Cornell's All About Birds web site:
Declines of the Cooper's Hawk in the late 1940s and 1950s were blamed on DDT and pesticide contamination. Populations started increasing in the late 1960s, but it is still listed as threatened or of special concern in a number of states. Appears to be adapting to breeding in urban areas, which may help increase populations. Project FeederWatch data indicate stable or increasing numbers over the last 15 years.


Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Beautiful bird, Pam. Those hawk-types sure scare the other birds.

robin andrea said...

We have Cooper's Hawks in our yard quite often. They come and sit on our bird feeder, hide in fruit trees, or lurk on one of the large rocks next to the feeder. In the two years we've been watching, we only saw a Cooper's get one bird. All of the birds had scattered fairly widely. Only one bird was far off on a tree branch. It took off, the hawk took off at the same time, and caught it in mid-air. It was startling and fast.

LauraHinNJ said...

Great pic, Pam! These show up in my yard too, but always in the top of the tallest tree and never with so much beautiful color as this one!

Pam in Tucson said...

cynthia - First time I'd seen a Cooper's Hawk, although they're common in Tucson. I thought it was beautiful, too.

ra - How wonderful to see them so frequently. The hunt and catch must have been an amazing event to witness.

laurahinnj - It was a beautiful sight both times we saw them. They haven't returned, unfortunately. Possibly the Red-tailed Hawks drove them away, although they've gone now, too.

Mario Profaca said...

Hi Pam!
Greetings from who-know-where-is-it Zagreb, Croatia!
Just thought you might like to see hawk's nest built at my balcony at 20th floor three years ago. Two squadrons of hawks have been born there on my balcony this so called 'wild birds' chosed for their home.
Obviously, there is no Empty Nest Sindrome here!
(Unfortunately, only in Croatian language so far).