Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hanging Out with Mrs Cooper

Well, I started feeding the birds again this past Friday and it only took 5 days for the Cooper's Hawk to get the 411 that the backyard diner is back in full swing with a tree that is perfect for perching no less. I was washing dishes this morning when I saw her fly in from the woods across the street and land on my tree.
The pictures are lousy but still post worthy because I want to point out to you how square the tail looks in the photo above. One of the many ways people attempt to tell the difference between a Cooper's Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk is by the shape of the tail. The Cooper's is round at the end and the Sharp-shinned is squared-right? Well yes in most circumstances but there are things that can effect that such as feather wear, molting, how it's perched or flying how it is in position to you. Here she is eyeballing the House Sparrows who are constantly in the shrubs in my neighbors yard.
Now look at this photo and see how it looks round. Confused yet?? I knew this was a Cooper's Hawk immediately based on its size. I will also bet it's the female Cooper's Hawk because she was very large like the same size as an American Crow but stockier. Also notice the neck and large head this accipiter has vs a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The female sharpie and male Cooper's can be very similar in size with the Male Cooper's Hawk and the female Sharp-shinned Hawk being the size of a Rock Pigeon. A Rock Pigeon the misses above wasn't!
And taking some time to preen a little before figuring out where her next stop would be because she soon gave up on having a House Sparrow for breakfast.
And here is 1 member of the gang of 12 who have done a number on my safflower! They were there this morning before the Cooper's arrived and once she came into my yard off they flew and into cover. The House Sparrows will continue to raid my feeders but will not be as frequent once winter comes. Why I don't know but that's what happened last year. Once winter starts the European Starlings come and take their place.
And one of the females too. I was keeping my eyes open for the leucistic female House Sparrow that was a regular in my yard last year. Her wings were totally white so she was the only House Sparrow I could identify. Plus, she used to get bullied a lot by the other HOSP's so I developed a liking to her because not only did she look different, but behaved different too. Not here this year, but as you can see, others were more than willing to take her place. More food for the hawks I suppose!

Take care all!


Chris Petrak said...

How right you are about the challenge of IDing the coops. I have a series I took this fall where the tail is round - open & ragged, and same bird going away with square tail. Size helps, big head, and that elusive giss - it feels like a coop, whatever exactly that means!! I enjoy your "let's figure this out" posts

Hilke Breder said...

Kelly, I always learn something from your posts, usually thought- provoking and challenging. It's fon.

Rich said...

Kim: Great! Keep that camera handy!


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