ARTISTS AND BIRDS

Feathered Tiger

Cooper's Hawk

        What's on your entertainment list for tonight?  Watching a sunset... or watching a Feathered Tiger?

        Just as the sun was thinking about setting, and we were driving on Bloomington Drive, my honey saw a flash of white in the air coming toward our vehicle. It had to be a large raptor.... making a catch in mid air!   We made a U-turn and slowly drove back to the grassy parkway on the east side of the road and stopped. There on the hawkground was the raptor with his catch. We were within 20 feet of the scene, and what a scene it was. It was a Cooper's Hawk.... with a dove in his talons. The hawk was already plucking the feathers from its prey in preparation of consuming it.

        This was a great experience to be so close to a Cooper's Hawk while feeding. When the majority of the bird's feathers were plucked, it was time for the meal.  With each morsel of food he took, the raptor would raise its head and scan the surrounding area for any sign of danger. Cars racing by did not disturb the feeding (must have been used to Bloomington Drive), but it stayed extremely wary of any danger. We sat and watched for about 15 minutes. The beautiful markings on the back, breast, legs, and the tail made it a striking scene of nature. The prey seemed almost as large as the Hawk (Cooper's 14-20 inches... Dove 12 inches).  Then unfortunately, some noisy young people came down the street, and the Cooper's Hawk took the remainder of its prey and flew across the street, into a tree.

        I think of Cooper's Hawks as Feathered Tigers. Their hunting techniques are similar.... ambush and then a speedy attack. These fierce hunters of the sky, are constantly on the alert for inattentive or ill prey, which must be harvested each day, if the Cooper's Hawk is to survive. This winter, at your bird feeders, understand that the hunters are a necessity and part of nature's way of keeping bird populations healthy and in check.

        The Cooper's Hawk was drawn by Artist Brenda Rusnell. Thank you Brenda for this great picture. If you have questions or stories about the Cooper's Hawk, call Marilyn Davis - 435 673-0996.

        "Raptors of the Skies" will be presented by Cordell Peterson for Red Cliffs Audubon, on Wednesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Drive in St. George. Public is invited.


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