A Cooper’s Hawk in the Yard

When I got home, I noticed there seemed to be no small birds around the feeder or in the yard. Everything looked pretty quiet, but that’s not too unusual. So I was surprised when I got almost to the bottom of the driveway, and a fairly large gray bird suddenly flushed up from the ground behind some hollies and into a low branch of a water oak not far away.

It was a Cooper’s Hawk, and though I know size can be hard to judge, it looked quite large, with smooth gray wings and back, a long tail with bands of dark and light gray, and a ruddy-barred breast. From where I stood, the head looked dark and strong, and I could even see the red of its eye. It perched on the branch for several moments, turning its head to look around, with many of its feathers looking slightly puffed out, and ruffled by the wind.

When it finally flew, it spread its wings and sailed swiftly down, flaring the banded tail. It seemed to disappear into some large shrubs around the house next door, but I couldn’t tell exactly where.

It might have been hunting the Mourning Doves that hang out under the feeder, or Robins, or smaller birds – or maybe the chipmunks that we often see around these hollies and the edge of the driveway, right around where the hawk had been.

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