Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cooper's Hawks in our Backyard (summary post)

Last July, 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 as a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.

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.
A juvenile Cooper's Hawk is now a regular visitor to our neighbourhood. I usually can tell when it's nearby because I hear the flap of hundreds of wings as all the birds feeding in our patio take off instantly to seek cover.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was getting out of the shower, I saw this beauty on the telephone wire right outside our bedroom window. I ran for the camera - no time to dry off - and took photos through the window. (The fuzzy blobs in the back are doves on the power lines behind our house. The hawk doesn't go after them if they're stationary.)

The Cooper's Hawk flew to the patio wall and waited. It spotted its prospective prey and took off.

It took off in a flash. My next photo was of a blank wall. He disappeared from my view, so I don't know if his hunt was successful.

Another Cooper's Hawk flew into the yard last week and spent some time hunting finches (unsuccessfully) in a small xylosma bush.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get close enough for a decent photo, but these show its fantastic red eyes and dark grey back, indicating it's an adult. (Juvenile Cooper's Hawks have brown backs and golden eyes.) It wasn't until I processed the photo that I noticed that this hawk's been banded.


Daniel said...

These are wonderful pictures, Pam. I really liked the bats you had in an earlier post. They are often flying around here at dusk which is a very beautiful sight.

MrsGreenThumb said...

Beautiful images. Love the butterflies as well. Gotta keep that camera handy, never know when an opportunity will appear.

I'm in the market for a new digital camera, what are you using? Are you happy with it?

robin andrea said...

Absolutely beautiful shots of the hawk, Pam. They must scope out neighborhoods and find the place where the birds gather at the feeders.

I just left a comment on the bat post. Wow. You are definitely getting some amazingly good photographs.

Endment said...


Rhea said...

I am envious of someone who lives in a place where birds like this happen by. I live in Boston and, believe it or not, I've seen a falcon, an owl and some nice hawks around here, but one day I hope to be in a very natural setting.

Karina said...

What spectacular images! Hawks are so special. Beautiful.

Pam in Tucson said...

daniel - Thank you! Aren't our local bats neat? I'm going to have to study them a bit, now that CPBvK's given me more ID information (in his comment on my bat post).

mrs. greenthumb - My SLR is a Canon Rebel XT. Very happy with it. I have a couple of different lenses for it. Canon's just come out with a new version, the Rebel XTI. It's got even better features.

robin andrea - I just read on a web site that if you don't want the hawks around, you should stop feeding the birds for a few days. But I think it's important that the hawk comes round - it's part of the cycle of nature and it does good work, thinning the weaker and sicker doves from the population.

endment - Thanks again! I'm happy you visit my blog.

rhea - Thanks for commenting. I used to live in NYC and saw falcons there, but never hawks. I can hear an owl in our neighbourhood and I've seen it fly at dusk, but I've never been able to find where it lands.

karina - Thank you for your visit and thus for introducing me to your own fascinating and beautiful blog. I'll be reading it regularly. The NM high desert is one of our very favourite areas. What a wonderful place to live!

LauraHinNJ said...

I love that pic of him turning around on the wire!

I'm surprised with how skinny their legs are - that pic shows it so well.