Tuesday, February 19, 2013


This afternoon I glanced out the back window and observed this youngster perched on a brushpile I have along our back fence. A few minutes prior to this the yard was filled with a wider variety of bird species than I have observed all winter. Now the diversity was down to two species - this young Cooper's Hawk Sharp-shinned Hawk and whatever bird was ensconced in the tangle of grass and twigs below him. She was determined to dig his prey out of the sticks and pretty much oblivious to me.

First she worked from the top of the brushpile, peering into the maze of sticks.

Then she started working at the side of the pile.

She must have narrowed down where the bird was hiding and he concentrated on this small area for a while. She wasn't able to pull anything out of here and finally appeared to get frustrated and she quickly darted to the top of the brushpile and began jumping up and down and flapping her wings at which point the House Sparrow she had cornered darted into the nearby hedge. The hawk gave pursuit, but the sparrow had the advantage then and easily outmaneuvered the hawk.

She came back to the brushpile and looked around a bit more, but then retreated to the fence along the backyard where she stayed for a short while before darting into the neighborhood, undoubtedly heading towards the nearest bird feeder.


MTWaggin said...

What an interesting thing to get to observe. Funny how his jumping up and down finally scared the sparrow out. He is a lovely hawk though and glad to see your shots as I've not seen one before.

Mark Churchill said...

I wouldn't say the sparrow was "scared out"; sounds to me like it chose its moment well and left with the confidence that the hawk was out of position.

For more on Cooper's hawk tactics: http://markgchurchill.blogspot.com/2010/11/credit-where-credit-is-due-coopers-hawk.html

Anonymous said...

Great photos! It really looks more like a female sharp-shin to me, the spindly legs and round white spots on the back are what make me think so.


John Carlson said...

You are correct and you weren't the only one to point out my error. Thanks for catching this one and letting me know.