|Cooper's hawk, on "refuge" Christmas tree, near the box elder by the front door. I made this shot a few weeks ago, when there was snow on the ground.|
Recently, during the course of answering someone's comment to another post, I replied that our mild winter had apparently made meal gathering easier on the Cooper's hawk, as it had been awhile since I'd observed it terrorizing the feeder-visiting birds and squirrels.
My casual words obviously reminded the raptors they'd been missing some easy pickin's. This past week, I've watched a Cooper's on the hunt a dozen times—zooming past my deskside window like a feathered jet on a strafing run, leaving the usual mess of mayhem in its wake…discombobulated small creatures scattering every whichaway, and sometimes a few gray-brown feathers floating in silent testimony to that unlucky one which regrettably zigged when it should have zagged.
Today I've witnessed a double-header.
About noon a Cooper's flashed around the corner and startled the usual mixed feeder flock into a confused mass retreat. Like a heat-seeking missile, the hawk locked onto a fleeing junco, pacing it turn-for-turn, quickly overtaking to nail the bird in mid-air, a few wing-flaps from where the chase began.
Then, a hour ago, another Cooper's—or maybe the same one—did a reverse surprise assault, coming around the streamside end of the cottage, and plucking a plump gray squirrel from the hanging suet block where he'd been greedily gorging. I watched the hawk carry his limp prize across the river.
Two-for-two…and the day's not yet over!