There was a persistent kik-kik-kik sound in the backyard Sunday. I ignored it for a while, but it got increasingly loud. Turns out, it was a cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii), sitting within the bare, criss-crossed branches of a large Japanese maple.
Cooper hawks have a fierce, intent look in their eyes — all the better to watch the small birds and mammals they prey on. This young hawk was probably eyeing chipmunks: they’re always scurrying around, looking out for seeds that fall from the feeder attached to the eaves of the house. Since I had just tossed out several cupfuls of safflower seeds, they were probably intercepting those too. Squirrels don’t usually like safflower; chipmunks don’t care if it’s that or the most prime selection of black oil sunflower. If it’s edible, they go for it.
This is the first cooper’s hawk I’ve seen on our property — at least upclose. They’re probably regular visitors, but either blend into the background or stay too high in the treetops for us to see or identify.
Immature cooper hawks (like this one) have yellow eyes and white chests with thin, brown streaks. Their backs are usually dark with white markings. They nest near the edge of deciduous or mixed woods like ours. Coopers are fairly common in Tennessee, more so during the months of September and October.
I hope this hawk comes back. I want to learn its call so, next time, I’ll recognize it right away.
Note: Wish I could have gotten a better shot of the Cooper’s Hawk, but it was taken from a window and without appropriate camera lens.