Raptor Wednesday

Accipiter cooperiiThis tangle of a pair of trees by the Terrace Bridge in Prospect Park, complete with what looks like a fairly-secure snapped-off Y-shaped limb, is a fine raptor hang-out. I’ve seen a Red-tailed Hawk, Merlin, and now a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) up here in recent weeks, each separately. Yes, the Coop is in this picture: click on it for a larger view.

Location, location, location: the view’s grand, taking in the Nethermead, slope of Lookout, the Lake, the Peninsula meadow, bits of the Lullwater, and, tragically, Breeze Hill’s abomination of a parking lot; additionally, the bird feeders are nearby, meaning a density of song bird prey this time of year.Accipiter cooperiiHere are a pair of closer views of the Coop.Accipiter cooperiiAccipiters, or forest hawks, are characteristically active birds, moving with great agility through woodlands, and usually perching only briefly, but this bird sat here for a good long while. I surmise that it was satiated with food and enjoying the direct, warming sun on a chilly winter’s day. Raptors, given to a high-protein diet, don’t have to eat every day to survive –I’ve read that Kestrels, our smallest raptor, for instance, can go four days without meat — but daily food is probably optimal. Of course, most raptor runs at prey are misses. They really have to work it. Some digestion time is a good thing.

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