Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Cooper's Hawks square off in our half-dead weeping willow tree...

Tuesday, as I got out of the car with groceries in hand, I heard strange hawk sounds coming from the backyard so I ducked out of the garage to have a look. Two Cooper's Hawks were fighting over the prime viewing branch in our great big beautiful half-dead weeping willow tree. "Oh my gosh...I've got to get this" was going through my mind, so I quickly carefully/gently (sort of) dropped the grocery bags on the driveway and dashed inside to get the camera. I shot through the kitchen window and caught the end of the fight. It's the first time I've ever seen two hawks fighting over the branch, but not the first time I've seen two hawks in the tree at the same time. I've often seen an adult and juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched on different branches, and once a Red-shouldered Hawk joined them without any squabbles. This time the juvenile was challenging the adult for "the branch," but she didn't dislodge the adult...he remained king, showing off a few awesome threat displays and not budging when she directly attacked him.

"I'm bigger than you, kid. Beat it."

"Reiteration...bigger, badder, meaner, smarter. Beat it!"

"Actually, pops, I'm bigger." Glare.

Attack!

...another "Art of the Flying Fan Dance" shot (remember the first one?).

"Uh huh...that's what I thought..."

...slyly checking to make sure the interloper was loping away.

King for another day...

Beak Bit
Larry of The Birder's Report let me know he was just reading about Cooper's Hawks and discovered their eye color can be an indicator of their age. Larry wrote, quoting "Birds of North America Online," the eyes are:
"bluish-gray in fledglings, increasingly replaced by yellow in immatures. In brief, yellow or light orange in yearlings, shifting progressively to darker shades of orange and red with age, males averaging darker than females of the same age, and detectable change ceasing at about 5 yr of age."
So our king of the perch may only be a yearling or an older brother of the immature female. Since the younger bird was already larger than the older hawk, I decided she was a female since female hawks are usually larger than the males of the species.

41 comments:

Sue said...

Such a nice set of photos....but oh my, I really wouldn't want them hanging around in my yard. We've got problems right now with a hawk at our feeders. It's NOT cute, but you should see my little black caps FREEZE like a statue. They can really hold that position for a long time!

Roy said...

Heh, heh! Great shots, Kelly! I don't think I've ever seen hawks fight each other. Bullied by crows, yes. But like you, I've mostly seen them sharing the same trees.

Montanagirl said...

Fantastic, Kelly! You really did a great job on catching all the action. Loved it!
P.S. I did send you my mailing address for the notecards and the book, right? My memory isn't what it used to be! lol

Marie said...

Sweet shots Kelly! And I see you have a great view from your backyard.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Sue....I know what you mean. I keep an eye on them. They seem to snare House Finches and House Sparrows a lot. Our Chickadees and Titmice always seem to escape.

Roy...they share the tree often. I love it when the Cooper's and Red-shouldered are together.

Mona... :-) You sent them. I have ADHD (without hyperactivity)...and Christmas and all the "happenings" made everything else fall off the radar. All the books and cards are packed and ready to go. You should be getting them soon.

Kelly said...

...thanks, Marie!! Our house is on a hill, so we do have a good view. I wish all the woods were mine, but we are just in a subdivision. Boo!

Margaret Bednar said...

That last shot with all the movement. The feather's design and the Weeping Willow "branches". Phenomenal. Very, very grand birds!

Laure Ferlita said...

Gee whiz, girl! Now you've got them COMING to you?!!! How do you do that?!!

Great shots! Love that menacing look on the older hawks face. Wow!

Steve Borichevsky said...

Whooh!

Ginnymo said...

Fantastic shots Kelly!! Sure glad you got home in time to catch that sight!!

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly,

Wow such a special treat! Getting such great photos made it even more of a bomus!!

John (Tucker) said...

Now that's a great homecoming. Hope you didn't damage dinner when you dropped the bag. Nice set of pics.

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly...Now that is quite the display of wings and feathers!!
Looks like you got there just in time!!
Great going Girl!!

Carol Mattingly said...

The winner took all. Beautiful images Kelly. Carol

Wanda..... said...

You always have the best photos, Kelly!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh My Goodness.... I would love to have seen that, Kelly.... Bet they were LOUD.... So the KING is still KING???? Guess the Juvie has alot to learn --if he wants to be KING someday!!!! ha

Great pictures..
Hugs,
Betsy

Dave said...

Fantastic Kelly!
We've had two juveniles visiting our bird feeders lately. No action like that as of yet!

Elaine said...

Wow!!! Fantastic action sequence! You got home just in the nick of time.

Mike B. @ slugyard.com said...

Magnificent shots!

holdingmoments said...

Fantastic captures Kelly. You've really caught the power and threat in those beautiful birds.
An amazing sight to experience.

Chris said...

Wow fantastic observations and gorgeous shots Kelly... I would be as excited as when I see waxwing if I was to see what you witnessed!

Jayne said...

WOW, wow, wow!! What a sight THAT must have been! I've never seen two fighting for space like that. Great shots Kelly!

Ken Januski said...

A great story, verbally and visually, to start the day!

Gary said...

What a magnificient series of photos. Boom & Gary of The Vermilon River, Canada.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

WOWZA Kelly- this is a fabulous series of photos.

Elva Paulson said...

Those are great photos. What an unusual sighting. Wow!

Roy said...

Wow, dramatic stuff Kelly and great shots of it.

Jen said...

Great story and amazing photos!

Larry said...

Unbelievably incredible series of the Cooper's Hawks Kelly! Wow, I would have been running for my camera too!

Coincidentally, I recently read up on Cooper's Hawks and discovered that their eye color can be an indicator of their age.

To quote Birds of North America Online, the eyes are "bluish-gray in fledglings, increasingly replaced by yellow in immatures. In brief, yellow or light orange in yearlings, shifting progressively to darker shades of orange and red with age, males averaging darker than females of the same age, and detectable change ceasing at about 5 yr of age."

Looking at the color of these bird's eyes, it looks like the older "winner" of the perch may only be a yearling or only a year older than the immature bird it chased off. I imagine the immature bird would not even attempted to challenge an older adult.

Do you think these two birds may have been related?

SouthernHeart said...

SPECTACULAR set of photos!

Blessings,
Dianne
www.mysouthernheart.com

eileeninmd said...

Kelly, cool sight to see and amazing photos of your hawks. I am just glad they are not in my yard.

Kelly said...

Larry...definitely. Our Cooper's Hawk population has increased. I've photographed red-eyed Cooper's before, and we've had lots of juvies, so my guess is older brother! Thanks!!

Chad said...

Oh my gosh. How often does anyone get this opportunity? Let alone, the chance to photograph the event. Very, very cool. We have a Coopers that routinely takes advantage of our backyard feeders. We love having him around.

JKoenig said...

Wow! Was that ever good timing!

Bill said...

What a terrific sequence of photographs. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! Skillfully taken, these photos show the true nature of one of most stealth raptors,the Cooper's Hawk. Wish I could've been there, but this is almost as good!

Tammie said...

you really capture amazing moments in life. it is such a thrill to see what you share with us!

Lois Evensen said...

What wonderful pictures! Fantastic!

Appalachian Lady said...

Those are the best photos of have seen of the Cooper's hawk. That will help me with identifying them. I have never seen two hawks fighting--usually crows fighting with a single hawk. Thanks so much for dropping the groceries to take these shots!

laubaine said...

magnifique scène de vie

Kelly said...

Thank you, everyone! It was a crazy sight. Normally...the hawks are quite content to share a tree, but not that day!

texwisgirl said...

Oh my gosh! Stopped over from Jayne's site today - you are a wonder! Both in your bird photography and your incredible paintings!!! 100 paintings in a year!!!! Amazing!

I've just picked up my pencils again after 10 yrs of not drawing anything. I'm so impressed by folks like you!!!