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The Cooper's Hawk (Encore)


After brunch this Saturday, I was looking out the kitchen window while rinsing some dishes. Perching in a tree overlooking one of our bird feeders was a crow-sized hawk I hadn’t noticed before. From my vantage point, it appeared lightly colored in the front, with dark wings. I turned off the faucet to lean forward and get a closer look, when the hawk swooped into action. It flew toward the feeder, scattering visiting songbirds in all directions. A cardinal took off for the bushes and some house sparrows shot for the forest line.

But one unlucky dove was not quite fast enough to flee to safety. Instead, the hawk grabbed it in midair. In just seconds, the dove was in the hawk’s sharp talons and both were back in the nearby tree branches.

Even practiced birders sometimes aren’t sure which kind of bird this is. But I’ve seen it twice since, and with help from a birding guide and some natural history experts, I have identified it as a Cooper’s hawk.