On Saturday morning, I was roused from slumber before 7:00 AM by the unnerving machine gun style alarm calls of the Bulbuls (of which there are now four free-flying in my living room). I stumbled off of the sofa, peered out of the window, and looked for a cat. I did not see one, and yet I heard a panicked rush of aviary birds, and Bulbuls were still firing away in a relentless, distressing ensemble. So I crouched down and tried to find their line of sight, and then I saw the threat. It was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) perched on the fence. By Sunday morning, I knew to grab my camera when I heard the Bulbuls’ call to arms. He had returned, and even with an accomplice, I noticed as they fled.
The beam on which I hang laundry to dry doubles as a perch for a young Cooper’s Hawk. The yellow irides and breast plumage striations indicate that this visitor is a juvenile, and I surmised from body shape that he is not a Sharp-shinned Hawk. 29 August 2010
If my new morning guest returned yesterday, I managed to sleep through it, but this morning, I was awakened dutifully by the Bulbul sentry team in order to receive our young Cooper’s Hawk. This time, he was perched out on the blackberry bush trellis. I watched him move to the nearby compost pile and waited to see if he was only basking in the early morning sunshine or trying to hunt for the resident rodents. Within a few minutes, I watched him lunge at something in the bulk of the pile. After some clumsy floundering in the tangle of weeds, he managed to catch some breakfast. I hope that he will learn that his interest in the nonvolant prey in my yard is more rewarding. Anyway, that meaty mouse is more nutritive than finch hors d’œuvre.
In the video, the rounded white-tipped tail feathers, another distinguishing (especially from the Sharp-shinned Hawk) characteristic of the Cooper’s Hawk, is visible. Without knowing the field marks of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, anyone could guess that this little novice hunter is not an adult; this behavior is unmistakably the inexperience of youth in action.