Words and Images from Ed Felker

Close Encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk

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Every now and then our bird feeders go suddenly quiet. We don’t always see the hawk that has arrived in the area that all the birds are hiding from, but there is such regular traffic to our feeders in the winter that interruptions are conspicuous. Today this bold and beautiful adult male Cooper’s Hawk decided to hunt from the feeder. I took photos with my iPhone, then realized he was going to be there for a while. So I rushed and got my camera and took more. Then I realized he was still going to be there for a while, so I changed lenses and came back with my zoom lens. This patient, handsome fellow was still there and permitted me to get some lovely close shots. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him for a time. What a beautiful creature, and an efficient hunting machine. Just look at those talons! The last two photos below show him poised to strike a hapless titmouse who must have been texting or something as he didn’t see the bird eater perched right where he was headed. It didn’t end well for the titmouse, and I’m sorry about that. But hawks gotta eat too!

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3 Responses

  1. Carole Pivarnik

    What a gorgeous bird and great photos!

    January 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

  2. Dave Kelley

    I’ve experienced the same nearly every mid-to-late afternoon (in the hills west of Lovettsville), as the hawk picks off some hapless titmouse, chickadee, cardinal, snowbird or, once in a great while, a dove. Some really interesting tactics to ensure prey flushes where it can nab them. Hawk appears the same type but, because the end of the tail is square, I thought it was a sharp-shinned hawk. How to really tell the difference? No big deal, just curious.

    January 29, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    • Dispatches from the Potomac

      Hi Dave, thanks for your comment. I have a very tough time with identifying hawks. They are really similar, and now that I look into it a bit more I’m not exactly sure. Size was a factor in my labeling it, plus the fact that I found a nearly identical photo on a bird site. I sent it to a few birdy people I know and they concurred, but I absolutely could be wrong.

      My wife and I were driving once and witnessed a large hawk catch a dove in mid-air above the highway. Feathers everywhere. It was one of those amazing nature moments, you feel bad for the dove, but hawks gotta eat too! It was something.

      January 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm