Cooper's Hawk (+ Praying Mantis) | Suburban backyard predators
While I was recording this video of a sneaky praying mantis being sneaky in our backyard here in Powadise...
I heard the soft ruffle of feathers and saw a blur behind me when I turned to see a most beautiful - probably juvenile - Cooper's Hawk. Fun fact about Cooper's Hawks: their penchant for racing through trees to catch birds is dangerous. "In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest ... especially of the wishbone."
It (sorry to be so vague, but I can't sex this bird) was clutching something in its talons. Cooper's Hawks catch their prey with their feet and kill it by repeated squeezing.
Whatever this hawk was clutching had also had a wing... that looked suspiciously like a dove wing. I can't fault it for that! Add this raptor to the long list of creatures that recognize the delicacy that is dove meat.
This raptor re-adjusted its grip a few times and never dropped the bird. But it did get some soft, downy feathers caught in its beak like a bird dog will do when out in the field retrieving.
It then devoured the prey, scattering feathers hither and to in the process.
Interestingly, while falcons deliver a kill bite, the Cooper’s Hawk kills almost exclusively with their talons and keep their head away from the prey while it is still alive. They’ve even been observed drowning prey by holding it underwater until it no longer moved.
Then it wiped its face and cleaned away the bits of flesh and feathers around its beak by rubbing against the branches, like a cat would with its paws.
It seemed to rest for a little while before taking off, and amazingly did not seem to mind my presence at all.
Hope you enjoyed this little raptor moment.
Thanks for looking! xo