Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Corralitas Drive: Young Cooper's Hawk?

Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 17, 2012, 2:46 PM.  What appears to be a Cooper's Hawk was harassed by Mockingbirds all day yesterday.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

For years, I've been unable to get a good photo of the elusive Cooper's Hawks in the Red Car Property neighborhood.  Tuesday, I got tons of photos in my own backyard.

Just before 10 AM, a neighbor and I witnessed a small hawk chased through my yard and into a Eucalyptus by a gang of Mockingbirds, hummingbirds, Cedar Waxwings and a variety of other small birds.  It took us about 10 minutes to locate the hawk in the tree, despite all the birds taking turns dive bombing it.  Even one of the Red Tailed Hawks made a few low, slow circles around the tree.

For the rest of the day, the harassment continued in various trees in my yard and my neighbors' yards.  
Photo: Diane Edwardson, July 17, 2012, 10:47 AM.  I'm speculating it's a young Cooper's Hawk because it was the right size and had a horizontally striped tail.  I think it's a recently fledged bird, since none of the other birds had any fear of it.  Cooper's Hawks hunt birds.

I even ran into the same bird around 5:30 PM.  It was sitting on top of the telephone pole at the top of the Corralitas Public Staircase.  Of course, I had no camera with me.  It eventually flew to Red Car Canyon, which is prime Cooper's Hawk territory.

Each time I saw it today, I had more than enough time to go inside, grab my camera and shoot dozens of frames before it either flew to another tree or I got bored shooting.  This has never happened to me before with the elusive Cooper's Hawks.  It was an extraordinary experience.

Read more about Cooper's Hawks: Cornell Lab of Ornithology