Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cooper's Hawk

The Cooper's hawk is a daily visitor at our place these days -- and why not, when there is such a rich buffet in our back yard?

We have a couple of bird feeders and a birdbath by our patio out back, and we've enjoyed the regular visits of goldfinches, house finches, red-wing blackbirds, mourning doves, robins, chickadees, juncoes and sparrows (plus a few less enjoyable visitors such as cowbirds, rabbits and mice). Cardinals and downy woodpeckers occasionally check out the place, and we get excited about the rarer visits of hummingbirds, European goldfinches, indigo bunting and bluebirds.

There are plenty of hawks around, too, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that our back yard would get the attention of at least one of them.

For a while, he was dropping in daily between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. He zipped in front of my car as I was about to pull into the driveway the other day. He made a beeline into "the bistro" (a sheltered area next to the front door), shot up over the roof and dove down toward the back patio. When I got out of the car, I could see him being hectored by smaller birds as he left northward.

He came by on his usual round while I was mowing the front lawn Saturday afternoon. A dozen or so downy brown and gray feathers by the vegetable garden suggested that a sparrow had come to an untimely end.

Last night, as I ate dinner outside in our bistro, he came toward the house -- a few hours late? Perhaps because I was in the bistro, he decided to go around the south side of the house instead. I ran around the house in time to see a small flock of goldfinches fleeing ahead of him toward the evergreens up the road.

Weeks ago, I came home to find him standing in the middle of the back yard amid a mess of large gray feathers. It didn't seem that he had caught anything, so I thought perhaps he'd been in a fight or a testy mating attempt. Or perhaps he tried to seize one of the little metal bird statuettes welded to the new shepherd's hook, and shook loose several of his own feathers.

Usually, if one of us him in the back yard, just looking up is enough to prompt him to take off immediately. But this time, he stood there for several minutes -- long enough for me to get a camera and take four pictures.

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