Cooper’s Hawk

Gray Squirrel

Earlier this week I opened my door to go to the grocery store, and saw a struggle for life and death in the natural world mere feet away.  I went and got my camera- no travel necessary for this one.

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Here’s the tail end of the incident- a hawk flying at a squirrel on the ground, trying to grab it.

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The hawk flew up to the Maple Tree out front, not far from my front door.

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Here’s the hawk’s intended target, a Gray Squirrel– a common yard visitor who had been looking for peanuts.

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The hawk kept watch on the squirrel below.

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It was very intent on the squirrel…

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This is a Cooper’s Hawk, a common suburban bird of prey and the bane of many bird feeders.

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It seems to be staring directly at me- this bird is an immature (first year), not having its full adult plumage yet.

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It sat still enough for me to get a closeup- it’s a gorgeous creature.

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This bird was extremely alert.

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After a bit it stood on one leg- notice the sharp talons.

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It wasn’t giving up easy!

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What a fierce look…

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Here’s its target once again- this was a first-year squirrel on the smaller side, so I think the hawk thought it was worth a try to grab it.  Normally they leave full-sized squirrels alone.  The squirrel was pretty calm about the whole thing and didn’t seem to show any signs of panic, so perhaps it had learned that as long as it kept moving, the hawk was no big threat.  I’d seen squirrels running around tree trunks evading hawks before- the hawks seem to come up on the losing end in these kind of contests not involving surprise and stealth.

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The hawk took off across the street, following the squirrel- no luck though, it couldn’t grab it, so it flew off between the apartment houses.  It’s an amazingly agile flyer.  Since it is an immature bird, perhaps it’s still learning what is an optimal target and what isn’t.  Live and learn.

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Here’s the squirrel, finally free to go bury its peanut.  Be careful out there!