A bird of prey comes to visit
Friday, July 30, 2010 4:55:57 AM
So that's why there weren't any birds at the bird feeder! The hawk pictured above was perched on a fence that borders our yard on one side. I was taking these photos through a screened window, and it was raining at the time.
I believe it is a Cooper's hawk. If I have identified this large bird correctly, it is still a juvenile. The juveniles have eyes that start out yellow, then turn dark red as they mature.
The adults are 14 to 20 inches tall (36 to 50 cm), and they have a wing span of up to 2.5 feet (76 cm). It typically resides in woodlands, but it will also hunt yard birds that are attracted to bird feeders. They are ambush predators. According to the Wikipedia article that I linked to above, about a quarter of the Cooper's hawks end up fracturing chest bones while pursuing prey through heavy growth (although these fractures appear to heal on their own). Besides eating birds, these hawks also eat rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, so we seem to have a complete ecosystem in our yard.
In the past it was also referred to as a "chicken hawk"; however, the term has fallen out of use since its predation of farmyard poultry is fairly minimal.
For those of you who are fans of Loony Tunes, a young Cooper's Hawk (referred to as a "chicken hawk") appeared in the role of Henery Hawk, pictured below.