Suburban Cooper’s hawk

I had an experience yesterday which was both amazing and kind of strange.

Sarah and I went to a friend’s house for dinner.  The area they live in is really open with large yards and few trees.  As we walked up to the house I noticed some kind of raptor near the bushes next to the house.  The sun wasn’t quite right and all I saw was a silhouette of a largish bird. I decided to get closer to see what it was.  Turns out it was a huge Cooper’s hawk.  I got within 10′ or so before it decided that was close enough <i>and it ran across the yard</i> (20 feet or so).  I thought that was really weird, so I walked up to it again, and it ran a bit further.  Walked up again and it flew the last few feet to some bushes, but pulled up short in front of them.  I thought I could get close again and snuck around the bush, making sure I didn’t see it fly away.  I came around the bush and it wasn’t there anymore.  I walked up to where it had been standing and looked around.  A second later it hopped up to the top of the bush, which is maybe 5′ tall, with it’s back to me.  It was only 3′ or so away.  I saw the striped tail but noticed the the eyes were brown and the breast was streaked with brown and thought that was strange – I found out when I got home those are characteristics of an immature bird.  It looked at me for a few seconds, long enough for me to make those observations, pull my phone out and get it ready to take a photo, before lazily flying off to stand on the roof of the house across the street.

I posed this to the Arkansas Hawking Association forum to see what other people thought.  It seems to me to be really strange behavior for a Cooper’s hawk.  It might be that it’s an inexperienced juvenile and didn’t know how to handle the situation.  I thought it might also be a case of acclimatization – it was in a suburban area and so around people a lot, maybe it’s just use to humans.


Immature Cooper’s hawk. © William Jobes. The original photo can be found here


Immature Cooper’s hawk in flight. © Gerard R. Dewaghe. Original photo can be found here


This is the angle I saw the hawk from when it was in the bush. © invisiblewoman. Original photo can be found here

Adult cooper's hawk

Here’s an adult Cooper’s for comparison. The eyes are red, wings and back are slate grey. ©Onafly. The original photo can be found here


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