Some of my readers who have been with me for a long time will already know this, but for those of you who do not, here is a little tidbit of personal information. In my backyard, I have a loft containing over 50 homing pigeons. I do not race them, but I do enjoy watching them fly. That enjoyment is tempered this time of year because of a certain predator that comes calling during these months, namely the Cooper’s Hawk. When talking about the hawk family of birds, the one you hear about more often is the Peregrine Falcon. While the Cooper’s Hawk doesn’t have the name recognition of a Peregrine, nor it’s 200 mph dive bomb to kill it’s prey, it is a wonder in it’s own right. Before we get to the links for this week, let’s take a look at this amazing bird.
The Cooper’s Hawk is a very secretive bird. It prefers the dense forest, where it flys with quick, short beats of it’s wings, looking for something to eat. When it finds what it’s looking for, it has speed and agility on it’s side, as it chases down the unfortunate animal that will be it’s next meal. It also has the surprise factor, as it is indeed, very quite and sneaky. Just because it likes the forest doesn’t mean the Cooper’s Hawk will not come out into the open. They know my back yard very well. Looking back at the years that I have had homing pigeons, I know for sure of five birds that I have lost to a Cooper’s Hawk, but the low number is not for their lack of trying. I have had one land on the landing board my birds use, while I was at the end of the loft, cleaning it out. They will sit on top of the loft, trying to figure out how to get to the birds and if given the chance, they will follow them inside. I received a phone call one afternoon from my wife, saying she had went to check on the birds, since they were flying. She found one of the hawks inside the aviary, eating one of my birds. She locked him inside and said she would let him out later, saying he needed to know what it felt like to be locked up. When I got home from work, she had already let him out.
Looking at the pictures of the Cooper’s Hawk, you can see how sharp and powerful their beak and talons are. One would never know that is not how they kill their prey. Once they have captured it with their talons, they repeatedly squeeze it, while holding it away from their body. In effect, they suffocate their prey. They have also been observed drowning birds in a bird bath. Talk about improvisation, these birds use what they have at hand to get the job done.
Here are a few interesting facts about the Cooper’s Hawk, taken from Bird Web.
The Cooper’s Hawk is the most widespread of the three North American accipiters. Females are up to one third larger than males, one of the largest sexual dimorphism size differences of any hawk. Adults have solid gray upperparts, barred with reddish-brown. Their long tails are barred gray and black, rounded at the ends, with a white band at the tips. Their eyes are red. Immature birds are brown above with brown streaking on their white underparts; they have yellow eyes. Cooper’s Hawks have short, rounded wings that are set slightly farther back on their bodies than those of the smaller, but similar-looking, Sharp-shinned Hawk. Their heads are relatively larger and their gray caps are darker and a little more prominent than those of the Sharp-shinned. The white tip of the tail of the Cooper’s Hawk is usually wider than that of the Sharp-shinned Hawk, especially in the fall. All of these differences are quite subtle, and with the size difference between males and females, it can be difficult to distinguish a male Cooper’s Hawk from a female Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Cooper’s Hawks are generally found in forested areas up to 3,000 feet, especially near edges and rivers. Unlike the Sharp-shinned Hawk, which prefers conifers, the Cooper’s Hawk prefers hardwood stands when they are available, but will use conifers too. The species prefers mature forests, but can be found in urban and suburban areas where there are tall trees for nesting. During the nesting season, Cooper’s Hawks are often more common in open areas than Sharp-shinned Hawks. In winter, Sharp-shinned Hawks are seen in more open areas.
The hunting Cooper’s Hawk approaches its prey stealthily, moving quietly through dense cover until it is close enough to overcome its target with a burst of speed. The secretive traits that allow the Cooper’s Hawk to surprise its prey also make it difficult to observe. It is most easily seen during migration.
Courtship is lengthy for Cooper’s Hawks, and the male may feed the female for up to a month before she begins to lay eggs. They nest in a tree, 25-50 feet off the ground. The nest is often built on top of an old nest or clump of mistletoe. Both sexes help build the stick nest lined with pieces of bark. The female incubates the 3 to 5 eggs for 30 to 33 days. The male brings food and incubates the eggs when the female leaves the nest to eat. Once the 3 to 5 eggs hatch, the female broods for about two weeks. During this time, the male continues to bring food for the female and the young. He gives the food to the female, and she feeds it to the nestlings. The young start to climb about the nest at four weeks of age, and begin to make short flights soon after. The parents continue to feed the young for up to seven weeks.
Please note that all but one of the images I am using today come from Lloyd Spitalnik’s Wildlife Galleries. You should go check out his pictures, as he is one amazing photographer. Now to the hunt for links.
4Walls and A View tells Dominique’s story of her grief over losing Mr. Dekker
American and Proud tells us how he views the shooting this week at a Florida school board meeting.
America’s Watchtower says the movement in New Hampshire to free Ward Bird is picking up steam.
Bunkerville reports that a family making $14,500 a year has more disposable income than one might imagine.
Capitol Commentary talks about not raising taxes on the “rich”.
Conservative Hideout has the story of the the health care mandate being declared unconstitutional.
Conservatives on Fire says bloggers can make a difference.
The Conservative Pup discusses the coming economic meltdown.
A Conservative Teacher thinks it’s a pretty bad thing when more people believe in ghosts than believe Congress is doing a good job.
The Country Thinker gives us a very detailed explanation of why we need tort reform in America.
Fleece Me has been pretty upset with the progressives.
The Independent Bloghorn has more detailed information about the debate over school lunches.
Maggie’s Notebook tells us the story of the little worm that could and did.
Matt’s Musings gives us some tips on how to write better articles.
Motor City Times thinks it’s funny because the Democrats are wondering why they have trouble finding support from religious voters.
One Mom gives us her take on the new law concerning nutrition in school lunches.
Questioning With Boldness says any fool can understand the commerce clause.
Reporter 37 wants to know when it comes to cutting spending in our country, just who the pie belongs to.
Republican Redefined is really starting to love Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee.
rjjrdq’s America II wants to know why some of our stimulus money went to China.
Spellchek has an interesting theory of why American troops are still in Afghanistan and are not scheduled to be gone until 2014.
A View from the Right thinks it’s about time we reign in the judiciary.
WyBlog says the Democrats are riding the deficit train.