The Cooper’s Hawk

Riding down the trail towards my truck, movement caught my eye and a pair of birds emerged from a sycamore tree. A Cooper’s hawk was on the tail of a magpie, but he failed to catch it.

After the miss, the hawk rose into the air and soared overhead. I grabbed my camera and got a couple photos of the gliding bird.

Cooper's hawks are members of the accipiter family, which includes goshawks.

 On a archery deer hunt, I sat in my treestand watching a flock of quail quietly work their way up a trail towards the spring I overlooked.

A Cooper’s hawk flew in and landed a few feet from the quail, sending them into hiding.

I could see none of the quail, but the Cooper’s hawk knew they were there and waited patiently. Eventually a quail took off and flew into the chaparal below, then another and another.

The Cooper’s hawk sat like a slugger waiting for the right pitch. Just as it seemed that the quail might have all escaped, one of the remaining quail burst from hiding and the hawk had it in it’s grasp instantly.

I’ve banded a couple Cooper’s hawks, so I know first hand the sharpness of their claws – they make you bleed if they get a hold of you.

Cooper's hawks have narrow bodies and short stubby wings which allow them to manuever through trees.

At the duck club I once watched a Cooper’s hawk chase a pheasant on the ground running. They ran under a bush and then both of them came bursting out the top with the hawk only inches from the rooster, but the rooster got away.

Cooper's hawk hunting from a perch.

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