Swift hawk, Striker

“The resemblance between Cooper’s Hawk and the Sharp-shinned is not confined to color, but extends to habit, the Cooper being, if anything, because of its superior size, fiercer and more destructive. It will dash into the farmyard like a bolt, passing within a few feet of individuals and carrying off a young chicken with incredible swiftness.”

“The attack is accomplished so suddenly that, unless the gun is in hand, the robber always escapes. There is no time to run even a few yards for a weapon – the thief is gone before it can be reached. If there is plenty of thick cover in the run, the chickens will often escape, especially the more active breeds, like Leghorns. At my home, I have repeatedly seen them strike, but as the foliage is dense and brushy they have invariably been unsuccessful in securing the quarry. In four years we have not lost a chicken by Hawks.”

An idea, maybe, Kev?

“Cooper’s Hawk is preeminently a “chicken hawk” and is by far the most destructive species we have to contend with. Although not so large as the Goshawk, it is strong enough to carry away a good-sized chicken, grouse, or cottontail rabbit. It is especially fond of domesticated Doves, and when it finds a cote easy of approach or near its nesting site, the inmates usually disappear at the rate of one or two a day until the owner takes a hand in the game.”

How field guides have changed in 90-some years!

Hawks, however, haven’t changed in all those years. Late winter is lean for them and they’re getting desperate. Backyard chickens make for an easy meal. I’m glad my brother saves his ire for the woodchucks that raid his garden and reaches for his camera when Cooper comes-a-calling, rather than a weapon.

Reference info from Birds of America, first published in 1917.

All pics by the Reluctant Chicken Farmer.

11 thoughts on “Swift hawk, Striker”

  1. Interesting post and pictures. A chicken dinner must be quite a feast compared to a dove. I am sure most urban Cooper Hawks have never seen a chicken these days.

  2. Yikes!

    I guess nature lovers have to deal with all aspects of nature.

    Toothed and clawed.

    Unfortunately I’ve got a soft place in my heart for the groundhogs around our rural property.

    My neighbors haven’t and it’s my misfortune that the wounded and or poisoned critters escape to expire under my deck.


  3. The cooper must have done the deed the previous day. During my morning chicken chores (opening, checking water & feed), I found the deceased rooster inside the run. Obvious hawk attack since the rooster’s head and neck were the main course. I moved the rooster outside the covered run and went back in the house to get a box to bury the bird. When I returned, the hawk had already returned to his prey to continue with the previous day’s meal. Then I got my camera. I have not buried the bird yet. He snacked all day on the ground when he was unable to carry the remains away. Haven’t told my daughter yet. It was her favorite rooster. His name was Ming Ming.

  4. I think I saw one of these last week in action. Right in front of my window a hawk grabbed a small bird out of the air. Or maybe just hit it, I don’t know. The air was full of feathers floating down to the ground. By the time I got my camera, the hawk was had settled across the street to eat. More red than your photos, I think it may have been a young sharp-shinned hawk.
    It sure ruined the sandwich I was eating!

  5. Ruth: I don’t know… quite a few people I know keep them.

    Cathy: Oh no….

    Kev: Ming Ming was quite colorful and handsome… sorry you’ll have to tell Elyse that he’s part of the food chain now.

    Have you figured out how they’re getting in to the coop?

    Sandy: I bet that did ruin your lunch!

    I always hated finding that ring of feathers beneath the feeder.

  6. Such a story …

    It’s a tough life in Nature! Quite a few active hawks and eagles around here now and I’m petty sure they aren’t eating at Micky D’s …

  7. Great shots! Cooper’s have to be my favorite raptor, though I can’t for the life of me explain that. And I laughed reading the quotes from the old birding guide. I had no idea. It’s hilarious and telling.

  8. WOW… I can’t imagine them carrying off something that large! I am sure it made for some mighty fancy eating. Sorry for the loss of Ming Ming, but great shots!!

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