Young Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk juvenile male (Accipiter cooperii)

Why bother flying around to find prey when you can sit on a pole and wait? That seems to be the philosophy of this young Cooper’s Hawk on a pole on the south edge of the North Basin. Its pale coloring and its yellow eye mark it as a juvenile. The adults have a reddish eye and reddish patterns on the chest. Sharp-shinned Hawks look very similar, and this may be one, but the legs and feet look a bit more solid than the sharp-shinned bird’s, and the habit of pole-sitting is more Cooperish than sharp-shinny. One can be wrong about that.

Either way, these hawks are mostly bird eaters. They’re awesomely skillful fliers. Once pursued, a small bird would have to take refuge in a solid shelter of some kind to avoid capture, and even that might not be enough. Cooper’s as well as sharp-shinned capture and kill their prey with their talons, not their beaks. They can reach into cavities or through wire mesh. They squeeze their prey with their talons until it stops breathing. Sometimes they hold their prey underwater to drown it. No pigeon, no sparrow, no other small bird is safe when these guys are around. Things are even worse when the females are present. Female hawks are considerably bigger than males, so much so that the males have to be sure that their mate is in a good mood before approaching, or they may be had for dinner.

More about Cooper’s Hawks: Cornell Audubon Wikipedia In Chavez Park

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