Letter: Cooper’s hawk spotted
A few days ago I spotted an adult male Cooper’s hawk in town. It flew across the road, down by El Dorado Beach, and was a beautiful sight to see.
Now, for those of you who don’t know a lot about the Cooper’s hawk, here is some information.
First of all, the Cooper’s hawk is an accipiter (meaning short-winged, long-tailed). It is also what is called a “bird hawk,” meaning it loves to prey on birds — anything from pigeons down to blackbird-size. It will take squirrels or rabbits though if it can’t find a bird to chase. The Cooper’s hawk is about 20 inches long and has a 28-inch wing span, a little over 2 1/2 feet or so for the female and a little less for the male.
It’s orange or russet below and slate gray above (adults) with a cap of black feathers on its head. Its mid-size between the sharp-shinned hawk and the goshawk. The three of them together make up the woods hawk or accipiter family. All three prefer catching birds for prey. The Cooper’s is the one originally called “chicken hawk,” as it loves to take young chickens whenever it can. It also likes to use the “still-hunting” method, which is to wait hidden among tree branches until something passes below, then dash down upon it in a furious rush (burst of energy). All three of the accipiters work that way.
Well, my Tahoe friends, keep your eyes open for these fast-flying hawks (they’re also called Blue Darters!) because they’re back in the woods in just a few seconds. They love the woods.
Lake Tahoe, you rock! So do the accipiters!
Theodore R. Harris, III
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.