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melanie kelley

Gray, TN, United States


I know among we FeederWatch participants Cooper’s hawks are not likely to make anyone smile. They are however part of my habitat.

In June of 2016 I watched in horror as a Cooper’s flew overhead with a snake in it’s grasp. It was headed to the neighbor’s pine trees about 500 ft away. When it approached the pines it dropped the snake to the ground! We can’t say the snake was lucky but I can say I suddenly realized that I was now going to have to watch for snakes falling from the sky! WOW.

July 8, 2016 high winds and a big storm took the upper half off most of that stand of pines. The Cooper’s adult pair was crisscrossing the open area between us and the pines. Back and forth and being very vocal. The more I watched the better I understood they were landing in a huge maple near the pines and calling their young who had not yet fledged. When the chainsaws started the adults became very agitated but soon I saw their two young take what had to be first flights from the damaged pines into the maple. They could be seen there for the next few weeks.

March 2017 I caught sight of one of the Cooper’s carrying limbs into my large ash tree. Yep. They claimed a new home.

In my habitat I commonly have large numbers of both White Throated sparrows and Chipping Sparrows as winter residents. By early April I could not find any WTS, Chippies or even Song Sparrows. They simply left early to head to places that were safer. I have no doubts about that.

Summer of 2017 brought me an incredible education on the life of Cooper’s hawks because day in and day out, we share the same habitat.

Folks, if you don’t use you are missing a wonderful opportunity to better understand your habitat and how you can improve it for not only our birds but for our butterflies, humblebumbles and native bees as well. The Flying Circus Show goes on all year long. Don’t miss it!


Predatory birds


Life With Cooper’s Hawks

You put your right leg in then you pull your right leg out...

One reply on “Life with Cooper’s hawks”

Nelson French says:

Just saw a white-headed chipping sparrow at our back yard feeder yesterday in urban ‘downtown’ Lexington, KY; only time we’ve seen one in almost twenty two years at this same location. Our backyard, though small, is registered as a Wildlife Urban Refuge, and we see many birds migrating through it, because of the number and variety of feeding stations we have long established; you suppose ‘the word gets around’ somehow?

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