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Cooper’s hawk grabs a bird in a local backyard

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 6:28 am in Cooper's hawk, Hawks.

Cooper’s hawk feeds on bird. Photo by Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, CA
1coop michelle foy pleasanton

I was sitting in my family room at home (near the foothills in Pleasanton) working on taxes this afternoon, when a saw a flurry of activity and what turned out to be a cloud of feathers out the window. I went out in the backyard to see what the commotion was, and I saw what I believe was a Cooper’s Hawk on top of the fence with his prey. I went back in and got my camera and proceeded to watch him de-feather and eviscerate what I fear may have been a baby bird. He didn’t seemed concerned that I was standing there and I was, for once, finally able to get the great backyard wildlife photo I was trying for. Eventually he flew off with what remained of his prey. It was a cool moment, although I still felt bad for the victim!
Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, California

We can always feel bad for the “victim,” but that’s how life works in the great outdoors. Everything has to eat something else in order to survive. The hawk eats the bird that eats the bugs that eat the grass … ad infinitum. And the turkey vultures and the dermestid beetles are always standing around in the wings, waiting to pick up the pieces. Life goes on. /Gary

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4 Responses to “Cooper’s hawk grabs a bird in a local backyard”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Neat photo, Michelle! And, right … with capture in claw/paw, birds/animals often don’t get concerned with human presence. Years back I lived near the Reliez Valley Rd entrance to Briones. Early one morning I pulled up alongside two foxes eating a dead something in the middle of the road. I didn’t faze them in the least. So far as they were concerned, I was probably just a customer waiting to be served by something else.

  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    Barbara: And Cooper’s hawks are REALLY like that. Afraid of nothing and totally focused when feeding or taking their prey. “Get lost, you 2-legged whatever. I’m eating!” /Gary

  3. Barbara Says:

    “Afraid of nothing and totally focused when feeding or taking their prey.”

    Interestingly enough, in one instance it didn’t even involve the immediate need for road kill. We had a local Cathartes aura that kind of disproved the theory of turkey vultures as being shy. I thought I made a fantastic discovery as one gracefully glided across the street entry, like a living, breathing C-130, to the area where I live.

    He perched himself on a neighbor’s birch tree limb, and started preening. I parked my car, grabbed my camera, and started shooting photos. The neighbor came out of her house probably wondering if I was potential cop material planning to commit a 602 PC.

    “Look!” I said. “You have a turkey vulture in your tree.” “Oh, yeah,” responded the neighbor. “This has been his favorite spot for about six months. He flies around the hillside and then returns.”

    (Not that this has become a sore subject, and I don’t harbor ill will, but what would have been *polite* would have been for my dear neighbor to have acted surprised, astonished – and share in my discovery … my first ever, up close and personal, episode involving a turkey vulture. So I went home … and opened my mail … and started dinner … and …).

    But if there’s one thing I’ve learned with my encounter involving a turkey vulture – “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. He has (almost) obliterated my human misperception that “if it ain’t cute, it ain’t worth it.”

  4. E. D. Richardson Says:

    We live in a condo next to a heavily wooded area. We have birdfeeders in a tray form that attract a great variety of birds, including the mourning doves that are driving us crazy. We had recent evidence of bird kills and lo and behold, there was a Cooper’s Hawk standing righteously on the railing of our deck. Love the look of his pantaloons. What we now have is a large birdhouse made by our grandson that would be a perfect house for the hawk.The question is, would he go in it and how far up the tree should it go? Anyone got any suggestions. We’re tired of cleaning up bird do from the doves! E. D. Richardson

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