Cooper’s Hawk Visit

December 22nd, 2007

   A respite of warmer weather yesterday and today before the temperature drops again, and maybe snow tonight.  I’m hoping to get out on the tractor and “vacuum” a few more leaves.   I keep a feeder near the house for the birds, and I can tell the weather will be colder or warmer simply by how many birds attend to the feeder each day.  Especially within 12 hours of a winter storm, the little Junco’s flock all around the feeder.  It must be tough to sit huddled through the cold nights in a tree! 

    Speaking of birds, we had a special visitor the other day- what I believe was a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) based on size, but possibly a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  It can be difficult to tell the difference.  It flew into a tall Oak near the house- watching the birds on the feeder of course, and sat for about 10 minutes.  The Cooper’s Hawk is a member of the Accipiter family- a specialized group of birds of prey that hunt other birds.  The Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks live in forested areas primarily, and can be secretive.  I’ve only seen them a half-dozen times before, typically while hiking or hunting deep in the forest.  Here at Fox Haven I typically see them chasing the birds that gather because of the feeder.   I don’t know why, but I’ve always identified with these birds.  I worked as a volunteer at the World Bird Sanctuary when I was younger, and we would have to actually raise small quail in order to feed the Accipiters that were undergoing rehabilitation.  It sounds harsh, but for some birds it was the only method to enable them to eat and survive.  Some of the Accipiters have bordered on threatened status in various parts of the country.  Because the Accipiters catch their prey “on the wing” we would “fly” the quail through a hole in the enclosure, and the Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawks would swoop down and catch them.  It was fascinating, if not somewhat difficult to watch, but very necessary.   Ultimately, we would rehabilitate a sick or injured raptor and then release it back to the wild if possible. 

 Cooper™s Hawk in Oak tree in Missouri

With the warming weather this week, the ice on the pond has been melting.  At night the ice freezes again, and then melts during the day.  I like how the water pools on the surface of the ice to show the reflections of the trees.

Ice melting on the pond

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