Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

A gang of young crows hang out in my backyard. They enjoy the husked sunflower seeds I set out. These black adolescents are not endearing. They make a lot of racket and they scare off the smaller birds. Periodically I chase them off.

Recently, a Cooper's Hawk did the job for me. At dawn, I looked out and saw several of the crows sitting on the metal arch at the back gate. Suddenly, they scattered. A Cooper's Hawk arrived and for a few moments, the sky above the gate was a flurry of birds as the crows disappeared in a variety of directions. The Cooper's Hawk took up the same perch on the metal arch.

The Cooper's Hawk arrived from the East, and was likely perched along the fence in my neighbour's yard. The fence is a favoured perch for the Cooper's Hawks and Merlins who prey on the smaller birds who enjoy the sunflower seeds. Smaller birds avoid the yard when the crows are present. A such, the crows were inconvenient for the Cooper's Hawk.
The short rounded wings of accipiters are well-adapted for quick maneuvering in dense forests, and the tight turns the Cooper's Hawk made above my fence were a perfect example of this attribute. Surprise is the hallmark of an accipiter.


The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Dunne P, Sibley D, Sutton C. Hawks in Flight. Houghton Mifflin. New York. 1988.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2000.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

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