Monday, October 10, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

I don't know who Cooper is, but I found his Hawk, or rather, it found me. Since the Middle Ages, someone who made or repaired casks and barrels was called a cooper (is that where recuperate comes from?). I doubt there's much correlation here though.
According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab, the Cooper's Hawk is one of the more skillful flyers in the raptor group. Regrettably I didn't get to see any dexterous displays, but it was nice to get such a cool new bird while looking for wrens of all things.
The Cooper's Hawk looks very similar to the Sharp-Shinned Hawk with its rusty marked breast/belly and chin. It also had has the darker wings and banded tail. Despite this potentially tricky identification, the hawk was close enough that I could tell its size (20 inches), which is substantially larger than the 16-17 inch Sharp-Shinned Hawks. The rounded tail is also a helpful clue, since the Sharp-Shinned Hawk's tail has a squared edge.
The Cooper's is an accipiter, which means it has a longer body and longer legs, but shorter and more compact wings, which all serve to help it fly quickly through tree canopies and in wooded country.
The talons on this bird seem to be exceptionally long as well.

A couple of weeks later I saw a juvenile Cooper's at the same location.

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