My Certified Wildlife Habitat garden is usually filled with activity as birds bustle back and forth from feeders to bird bath to bushes, but suddenly one day, all went quiet. Then this guy - a Cooper's Hawk - appeared on the bird bath! He stayed several minutes, even allowing me to slowly walk up to within 8 feet of him, taking photographs!
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website, among the bird world's most skillful fliers, Cooper's Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You're most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).
After I had taken enough photos of this one, I took one step closer and it flapped it's wings and took off. Seconds later a frantic sparrow shot out from underneath the holly bush beside the birdbath to tell it's friends about it's brush with death.
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December 5th, 2013
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