Thursday, March 04, 2010

Cooper's Hawk Portraits

This Cooper's Hawk (a male, I believe) has been hunting songbirds at our store's feeders for the past several days. I've debated taking the feeders down until the hawk loses interest and moves on. No matter what I do, though, the hawk is still going to find something to eat somewhere. On one hand, wintering songbirds can benefit from birdseed feeders, but they're not a necessity for their survival. On the other hand, its super interesting to observe the Coop's urbanized hunting strategy. Do you think it's a nasty bird? A winged thug? Collisions with man-made objects account for 70% of Cooper's Hawk deaths in urban areas.

The keen predator seems to know exactly where and when House Sparrows are hiding under various vehicles in our parking lot and patiently waits for them to reemerge. Sometimes the hawk takes to running on the pavement and darts beneath parked cars in hopes of flushing sparrows into the open where more they're easily taken. It's prey is usually a Morning Dove or House Sparrow, but I recently saw it fly off with a Dark-eyed Junco in its talons.

(Digiscoped with Swarovski AT80 HD & Nikon Coolpix 8400)

All images © 2010 Mike McDowell


  1. OK, that does it.

    I need to get me another spotting scope.

  2. Beautiful photos. This hawk can have some of my house sparrows. I watched one last summer skim down low across our lawn and grab a young starling.

  3. Hey, a guy has got to eat!

    It is always a thrill when I spot a hawk in my yard. I'm surprised there are not more as my yard is full of sparrows and finches around my feeders.

  4. Great photos. I have had a Cooper in my neighborhood for several years. It always thrills AND horrifies me to witness a its hunting techniques. A year ago I watched it dive into an evergreen bush near my feeder to get at the sparrows hiding there. Incredible!

  5. Thanks, you helped me ID the hawk from my backyard. P.S. Great photos.