Backyard Birds | Cooper’s Hawk

When Jim and I looked for a different home more than a decade ago, one thing Jim insisted he wanted was a view to the west. Having grown up on a midwestern farm, he learned to love the broad horizon, with its window on the setting sun and on incoming storms. What we actually got, though, is quite different from that. Instead, we have trees nearly touching our house on the west side. With summer’s leaves unfurled, the view beyond our property is completely obscured.

My view to the west, late spring, early evening.

We can’t see oncoming storms, but we do have yard birds. If you read the descriptions in bird books or at one of our favorite sites, All About Birds, you would see that most of our birds like the margins between woods and grasslands. They find familiar territory here.

Some of our birds are seasonal, migrating to or through the area, while others are around all year. Recently Jim posted about a pair of Eastern Phoebes that are nesting under our deck. The phoebes are new to us, though this is within their summer region.

As I worked in the kitchen a few days ago, I hollered at him to get his camera. A Cooper’s Hawk was perched on the tree out back. Usually when we see them, they are too far away too see clearly, or they are swooping through, intent on catching a meal. But this one was still, and at my eye level. It also was directly above one of our bird feeders. No, it doesn’t find its meal in the feeder; it finds it at the feeder. Coopers eat smaller birds and rodents. Once we watched one land on, firmly grasp, and fly off with a struggling squirrel. Surprisingly, they’re not terribly big birds, only about the size of a crow. Click any photo to embiggen.

Besides the great photos, Jim also was able to get this short video.

We don’t have the setting sun, but we have an ever-interesting assembly of birds out our window.


13 thoughts on “Backyard Birds | Cooper’s Hawk

  1. Mrs. P

    Beautiful shots! We love Cooper Hawks and in our area, the juveniles are quite fun to watch as they are clumsy and uncertain about catching prey. We had one that would step side to side on a chain link fence, not sure of what to make of it. I also watched another perched on our fence and at the opposite end was a squirrel. He watched the squirrel as it slowly began walking in his direction. About 15 feet away, the squirrel started climbing downward toward the grass and suddenly turned and ran upward about five feet away from the hawk. The sudden move frightened the hawk and he flew away. We have been able to enjoy many hours just watching the backyard wildlife interact. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Susan M Shullaw

    I too loved this post — we have a Cooper’s Hawk here in our Northside neighborhood as well. He’s so fun to watch. And it’s amazing how all the little birds disappear whenever he shows up to sun himself and scan for chipmunks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, the little birds disappear, or if not, freeze in place, so they can escape notice. This morning we went for a walk and watched a different kind of interaction. A small hawk, maybe a Cooper’s, was flying after a red tail to chase out of territory. That was new and interesting for us.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      We watched a fat cat in our yard a few days ago. It found some kind of rodent or mole or vole to pounce, but it was pretty ineffective. I saw the small thing bound away. We’ll have to depend on the hawks to get them, instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. shoreacres

    When I looked at your Cooper’s hawk, I suddenly wasn’t sure if I’ve seen sharp-shinned hawks in the past, or Cooper’s. When I consulted the good people at Cornell, I discovered that making a distinction between the two can be tough. What is sure is that both make a habit of lurking around feeders, which is where I saw mine in the past. They’re beautiful birds; you’re lucky to have one so close, and to be able to get such fine photos.

  4. underswansea

    Wonderful photos and video! Cooper’s hawk are rare where we live. I can only wish to be so lucky to see one close up like you have. Thanks for sharing your sighting and description. Great post!


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