|An immature cooper's hawk, Accipiter cooperii. Click to enlarge.|
The bird in the photo was sitting about six feet from the ground in a tree beside a residential street in Cape May Point, New Jersey, on a Sunday afternoon in January.
Cooper's hawks are good fliers, adept at weaving through trees in pursuit of the birds they hunt and kill for food. They are famous for appearing at active bird feeders where they can find prey species. Robins, European starlings, doves and pigeons are among their favorites. They also capture and eat flickers, quail, chickens, pheasants, and grouse. Their diet includes mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and bats.
Although most people understand that raptors need to eat, few are willing to contribute to the killing or want to see it happen in their yards. So if a cooper's hawk starts hanging around your bird feeder, capturing the birds that come to eat -- stop putting food out for a few days. The birds will stop coming and the hawk will move on. You can resume feeding when the coast is clear.