Friday, April 3, 2015

Cooper's Hawk near Dry Creek in the Sierra Nevada Foothills

I'm digging into the archives today for some of my favorite shots from the last year. Last March 30, I was doing my daily walking north of Waterford at Dry Creek. There is a chick-processing plant north of the creek, and whoever lives next to it has their own little golf course. They left a dead tree standing next to a pond, and on that day I saw a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) for the first time.

Cooper's Hawks are said to be notoriously difficult to distinguish from a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), and I admit to feeling not completely confident in my identification here, going mostly by the rounded tail feathers. I'm open, of course, to gentle correction.
Cooper's Hawks generally feed on smaller birds, and they are expert fliers in heavy vegetation. They'll occasionally take small mammals as well. They range from southern Mexico to just north of the Canadian border.
It was a gorgeous bird. I felt lucky to get so many close up shots (from 80 yards away!).

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