We see hawks in the back garden, but usually they are perched on a distant branch, or sometimes they come swiftly gliding through, hoping to snatch some unfortunate smaller bird.
But yesterday there was a rather large hawk perched first on our fence, and then on a gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), looking to all the world as if she owned the place. Usually when some exciting bird appears, I run to alert Judy or get the camera myself, returning just as the guest of honor flies off.
This time, however, she was still perching calmly when I returned with the camera. In fact, I’d say she must have sat there, unperturbed, for a good 15 or 20 minutes.
I’m pretty sure she was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. I say she because of her size – the males are smaller.
Cooper’s Hawks live year round in the Chicago area. They are woodland raptors, though they have made themselves at home in leafy suburbs. Their prey consists of medium-sized birds like mourning doves and starlings, which they are welcome to as far as I am concerned.
Sad to say they will also eat robins, flickers, bluejays, and many other birds. They also hunt rodents like squirrels, rabbits, mice, and chipmunks. This particular Cooper’s Hawk seemed to be intently scanning the ground for any such four-legged meals. Eventually, she flew away with empty talons.
No doubt our bird feeders made our garden attractive to this Cooper’s Hawk. The website All About Birds advises us to remove feeders for a few days in order to encourage raptors to move on.
I don’t do this, however. Hawks have to eat too, and they are exciting to have around.
Do hawks or other raptors make an appearance in your garden, and do they just rush through or sit and stay a while?