A juvenile cooper’s hawk recently stepped into our birdbath.
This was the first time since the trail cameras were installed that we had a sighting on film. We had already seen one fly into the oleander hedge and swiftly emerge with something in its talons. I’d never seen a raptor in a birdbath.
The colors of the plumage, together with the yellow eyes, indicate that the bird is a juvenile.
Cooper’s hawks are year-round residents of much of the United States. Accomplished aerial foragers, they are known to surprise their prey by flying over, through and under hedges to catch their meal on the other side. Their diet includes medium-sized birds, and in the West, “chipmunks, hares, mice, squirrels and bats” according to All About Birds.
Like many raptors, Cooper’s hawks were negatively impacted by DDT. The pesticide, widely used by farmers over three decades until it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972, diminished raptors’ calcium absorption. As a result, birds laid eggs with shells so thin that they broke when parents incubated the eggs.