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Cooper’s Hawk

Hawk hunts backyard chickens

A very fun thing to see this past weekend although I didn’t get images of all the action. I spotted a gorgeous Cooper’s Hawk hanging out in a suburban park so naturally stopped to get a picture.

It flew off immediately toward some neighboring houses and I was going to give up until I hear some chickens making a huge ruckus. I walked toward the noise and see just over the short fence three chickens huddled up under a bush, clearly distraught. I knew then that hawk had to be there.

Sure enough, I see it standing in the yard, probably trying to figure out how it can enjoy a nice breakfast of poultry. Unfortunately when the Cooper’s Hawk saw me it hopped up into a tree, then decided it didn’t want witnesses to the slaughter it was contemplating and headed off. While I didn’t get any action shots, I did get some decent images of the raptor.

Interestingly enough, the term ‘chicken hawk’ actually refers to the Cooper’s Hawk. Apparently that is fitting.

A Cooper's Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little hawk, big eagle

A marked contrast in size between these two raptors to say the least. I was taking pics of the beautiful Bald Eagle when this young Cooper’s Hawk landed nearby. While I wish they were closer together, the image does do a nice job showing the difference in sizes between the two.

While the eagle has a wingspan between 6 and 7 feet, the much smaller Cooper’s is less than half that big. At one point the hawk gave me a wide-eyed look as if to say, “Check out how big that eagle is!” 😉

While not often seen, the Cooper’s Hawk is actually quite common. Typically associated with forests and woodlands, they have proven themselves to be very adaptable and indeed seem to thrive in suburban and urban environments. However, they typically opt to hang out within the cover of tree branches and leaves, not normally out in the open.

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk and adult Bald Eagle pose near each other. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk and adult Bald Eagle pose near each other. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk keeps watch on a nearby Bald Eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on a nearby Bald Eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

A wide-eyed juvenile Cooper's Hawk. (© Tony’s Takes)

A wide-eyed juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Cooper’s Hawk gives a photographer a hand

Finding Great Horned Owls can be a challenge, particularly in heavily wooded areas. They have a knack for positioning themselves in just the right spot to avoid detection and more than once I have walked right by one.

Sometimes, another creature though can give you a hand in finding them. I have always found Magpies to be useful for this as they do not like the big owls and raise a ruckus when one is in their domain – follow the sound, find the owl.

On this day, it was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk that helped a friend and I, directing us to the nocturnal predator. I have seen this same hawk hassling the female owl at her nest before and on this day, she was out and about and once again, the hawk did not appreciate her presence. It was making a lot of noise, standing on a nearby branch, making sure the owl knew it was not wanted.

The noise led us right to her and allowed us to get some nice captures. The owl would eventually tire of being pestered, move to a new spot and the hawk would pursue, again raising a ruckus. It was kind of fun to watch although clearly the owl was not amused. 😉

A young Cooper's Hawk stares into the camera. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Cooper’s Hawk stares into the camera. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Horned Owl tries to ignore a Cooper's Hawk that is hassling it. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Horned Owl tries to ignore a Cooper’s Hawk that is hassling it. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk makes some noise at a nearby owl. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk makes some noise at a nearby owl. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Horned Owl keeps watch on a hawk that is hassling it. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Horned Owl keeps watch on a hawk that is hassling it. (© Tony’s Takes)

Cooper’s Hawk on watch

A relatively common raptor but not one that you normally get an opportunity to see. These small hawks are not ones to stay out in the open, preferring the interior of trees where they can stay hidden and ready to hit their prey.

This particular one was keeping close watch for a meal and in fact it did dive after a Northern Flicker, action which I unfortunately missed.

Cooper’s Hawks have proven to have adapted to urban and suburban life quite well and are probably the most common #raptors to be found in those types of areas. It isn’t unusual to hear stories about folks with bird feeders seeing one of these on their fence, ready to snatch one of the smaller birds as they come by for a meal.

Taken in Longmont, Colorado.

A Cooper's Hawk on the look out for a meal in Longmont, Colorado.

A Cooper’s Hawk on the look out for a meal in Longmont, Colorado.

A Cooper's Hawk on the look out for a meal in Longmont, Colorado.

A Cooper’s Hawk on the look out for a meal in Longmont, Colorado.

Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on its territory

Twice now I have witnessed a bit of conflict between this small hawk and the Great Horned Owls at a nearby open space. Everybody gets along fine until the male owl takes flight. That seems to draw out the Cooper’s and they chase it and pester the much bigger raptor incessantly. I know the owls have a nest at the location and I suspect the hawks do as well thus leading to the conflict.

On this particular morning the hawk had chased off the owl but knew exactly where it had gone and was keeping a close eye on it to ensure it did not return. That allowed me to get a couple of pictures of the Cooper’s Hawk, a common but somewhat elusive raptor.

A Cooper's Hawk looks toward the early morning sun in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk looks toward the early morning sun in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk looks keeps watch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Cool pair of Cooper’s

These medium sized hawks are quite common across much of the United States and Mexico. Finding them however is not an easy task. They tend to prefer to hide within the wooded areas, usually well within the trees making them hard to spot.

I’ve in fact only seen a handful. That made happening across this pair that much more fun and, best of all, they were relatively in the open allowing me to grab some pictures. I was coming down a dirt road near Denver International Airport when I saw one, then the other, both in the same tree. They can be quite skittish but this pair didn’t seem to mind me much at all.

Cooper’s Hawks have proven to have adapted to urban and suburban life quite well and are probably the most common #raptors to be found in those types of areas. It isn’t unusual to hear stories about folks with bird feeders seeing one of these on their fence, ready to snatch one of the smaller birds as they come by for a meal.

A Cooper's Hawk looks skyward in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk looks skyward in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk looks intently in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk looks intently in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Cooper’s Hawk takes in the morning sun

My photo excursion yesterday was not as eventful as I would have liked. The one saving grace was finding this cool Cooper’s Hawk. It isn’t often that they are seen out in the open like this one was and since I have only captured images of them a few times, I was happy to get this series.

A Cooper's Hawk sits atop a utility pole in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk sits atop a utility pole in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk sits atop a utility pole in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk sits atop a utility pole in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk gift

I call these Cooper’s Hawks a ‘gift’ because a couple of friends messaged me after work letting me know where to find them. Up until now I had only seen and photographed juveniles and longed to get pictures of adults. Those eyes are absolutely fascinating to me!

The pics aren’t the greatest as we had pretty heavy overcast skies today making for tough shooting conditions but this is one more raptor I can cross off my list.  Scroll down to view the complete series of images.

An adult Cooper's Hawk keeps close watch in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

An adult Cooper’s Hawk keeps close watch in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

 

Young Cooper’s Hawk takes in the warm sun

Following a couple of weeks of cold and snowy weather, blue skies and warmth finally returned to the Colorado Front Range this week. This juvenile #hawk seemed to be soaking it all in and reveling in the mild temps – I can’t blame it! 😉

Cooper’s Hawks prey on smaller birds and prefer to hang out in wooded areas which makes them pretty tough to spot. I myself have only seen a few.

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk looks skyward into the sun.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk looks skyward into the sun. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Cooper’s Hawk out on a limb

I have not had much luck getting pictures of this type of hawk, let alone finding them despite knowing they are out there.  They are in fact relatively common in urban and suburban areas of North America.

Today I noticed a dark spot in a tree and stopped to investigate finding this young one hanging out.  Cruddy gray skies today didn’t make for a nice backdrop but I was happy to just find one and get a pic of it.

You can learn more about Cooper’s Hawks here.

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk in Adams County, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)