Stellar in Flight

The fierce looking Cooper’s Hawk

This is an animal superbly designed for flight. Cooper’s Hawks prey on other birds, and many live and hunt in forests, so they must be able to fly with extreme agility. Notice the boney ridge above the eye.  This supra-orbital ridge protects the eyeball from twigs and branches as the raptor careens through the trees. It also shades the eye from sunlight, just like a ball cap. 

With this close up you can see even the nostril is protected by bristly feathers. And did you know, a bird’s ear is below and behind the eye, and protected by the tawny ear patch feathers shown here. Short wings and a long tail also help the Cooper’s Hawk make the quick turns and adjustments necessary to survive.

Cooper’s Hawks that live in the Southwest eat mammals and lizards in addition to birds, but are very fond of Mourning Doves, Rock Pigeons and Gambel’s Quails, all birds that provide a hefty meal. The female Cooper’s is larger than the male, and since this is a bird that eats other birds, the male must be very careful during breeding season. Maybe this is why the pair sings duets during courtship and continue singing together in the mornings for the entire month of incubation of the eggs, just to stay on the same page. 

This particular Cooper’s Hawk is an education ambassador at Liberty Wildlife. He was found with a wing injury at Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona, so is named Monk. Unfortunately, Monk did not heal in the top-notch form that would allow him to survive in the wild. So it is that Monk has gracefully taken on a new role. As an education ambassador, he agrees to show off for visitors at the wildlife rehabilitation facility, and in school classrooms across the state. He has been trained to sit quietly on the handler’s glove, and is rewarded with fresh meals daily.

Note the talons, this is how a raptor kills its prey
Wild Cooper’s Hawk on a light post near South Mountain

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