YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
When you think of hawks, you probably think of majestic soaring and breathtaking dives.
But this week’s featured animal breaks that stereotype by preferring to sneak up on its prey from nearby trees and strike from close range.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Cooper’s Hawk so Wowzerful!
Also known as the big blue darter, chicken hawk, flying cross, hen hawk, or quail hawk, the Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized woodland hawk native to most of North America, though they typically spend colder months in the southern regions of the United States and Mexico.
Averaging 35 to 48 centimetres (14 to 19 inches) in length, these stealthy birds of prey use dense cover to hide their movements and strike in a powerful burst of speed.
They mostly hunt medium-sized birds—approximately the size of jays or robins—and small mammals, including chipmunks, mice, bats, tree squirrels, and ground squirrels.
Unlike many falcons, Cooper’s Hawks don’t inflict fatal wounds with their beaks. Instead, they squeeze their prey to death, or even drown it.
Most Cooper’s Hawk pairs will mate for life, raising one brood of hatchlings per year.
They can live for as long as 12 years in the wild, though the average lifespan isjustshy of two years.
They prefer to build their nests 20 to 60 feet above the ground in forks and branch junctions of trees.
Nests are a team affair and are mostly composed of sticks, with a soft liner of bark, long grasses, or pine needles.
Eggs typically incubate for 34 to 36 days with the female hawk providing warmth and protection while the male provides food.
Newborn hawks are ready to fly in just 4 to 5 weeks after hatching, and are typically fully independent and ready to leave the nest at 8 weeks.
Talk about growing up fast!
The biggest threats to Cooper’s Hawks are forest fires and urbanization. However, these birds have no problem finding homes in woodlands and suburban parks as well.
They’re even known for camping out near backyard birdfeeders, as they look to snatch up an unsuspecting snack.
As a common bird throughout Southern Canada and all of the United States, there’s a good chance you’re in an area where these hawks might hang out.
They’re very discrete and stealthy birds, however, so you’ll need a keen eye if you hope to spot any in the treetops nearby!
Crashing through treetops after snacks is risky! According to All About Birds, in a study of 300+ skeletons, researchers found that nearly 25% of them had healed-over fractures on their chest bones.
Cooper’s Hawks are born with yellow eyes, but as they grow into adults, their eyes turn red! How’s that for intimidating?
Falconers are known to befriend and train Cooper’s Hawks to help them hunt quail, offering them tasty treats for their catches.
Coopers Hawks are known to cruise through the open sky at speeds of up to 88 kilometres per hour (54.7 miles per hour.) But that’s nothing compared to the speed at which they can strike at prey from the treetops. Unfortunately, exact speeds are hard to gauge since they love to hunt in dense foliage.
Watch a Cooper’s Hawk family in Seattle raise their brood from nest building to soaring through the sky.