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Sharp-shinned hawk lands & walks into bushes after its prey

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 6:56 am in Cooper's hawk, Sharp-shinned hawk.

Sharp-shinned hawk stalking towhees, sparrows and quail from back of boat trailer. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1sharpie dave harper oakley

… at Del Valle Reservoir in the Livermore area … I witnessed something I had never seen before. A sharpie (sharp-shinned hawk) lands on a boat trailer (above) and watches the towhees, sparrows and quail running beneath the brush. Then this bird who is built to fly through branches and catch its prey on the wing, gets so impatient it lands on the ground and walks into the brush after them. He made the mistake of entering “their world” and after much commotion, the sharpie flew out frustrated and returned empty handed to the treetops.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

Sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks, both accipiters (members of the family Accipitridae), are like that. They get so focused on taking their prey, they forget everything else, including the right and wrong way to do things. One time I was standing in an oak woodland area watching a ground squirrel digging a hole to bury an acorn. A Cooper’s hawk, which had been sitting on a branch above and slightly behind me, and apparently was so focused on the squirrel it didn’t even see me, came diving in to grab the squirrel. It was so low, it brushed the top of my head!

Another time, I saw a Cooper’s hawk try to follow a ground squirrel it had been chasing down its hole. That was definitely entering “their world.” Crazy birds. They never give up! /Gary

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