Tag Archives: Cooper’s Hawk

Good News About Trees

trees-atlantaIf you live inside the city limits, Trees Atlanta will give you up to 3 free trees for your front yard and even plant them for you!  It’s part of Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program.  Check it out and sign up for your trees at www.treesatlanta.org/freeyardtree.  These are all wonderful shade trees free for the asking! Now how can you beat that?

While you are on their site, please consider signing Trees Atlanta’s Canopy Alliance Pledge (www.treesatlanta.org/pledge).  These signatures will show Atlanta’s policy makers and influencers your support for protecting our urban canopy!   It only takes a minute, costs nothing and will really help.

Linda's lot prior to construction

Tree-save fence – Darlington Rd. White Oak

Another piece of good news is shown in the photo to the left.  It’s a picture of a tree-save fence around a wonderful White Oak on Darlington Rd.  We estimate the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) between 36 and 42 inches, making the estimated age about 100 years!

The owners were very careful to make sure that the new house will be situated to save this tree.  Given the recent spate of clear cutting, it’s a very encouraging sight.

Not only the tree is being saved, but so are the countless birds and critters that depend on it.  Photos below show some glamour shots as well as birds enjoying this magnificent tree. Thanks to the owners, and welcome to Peachtree Park!

Future posts will report on the neighborhood’s efforts to significantly improve tree preservation.  In the meantime, you can add to our canopy and increase your property value with free Trees Atlanta trees.

Trees Atlanta –
Free Yard Tree Program
Tree Species List

Raptors in Harm’s Way

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii

Late in the day on Monday we were driving on the Georgia Tech campus and a Cooper’s Hawk flew low right in front of the car, barely missing us.  A split second prior to seeing the bird, a squirrel raced across the street in a straight-line hurry.   He was not doing the indecisive squirrel thing that they do in the middle of the road, but running full out.  Clearly the squirrel was in the hawk’s sights.

How often does this happen?  A little homework revealed that it happens much more often than  you might think.  Here’s what we’ve learned.

Urban raptors that we see here are mainly hawks (Cooper’s, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered) and owls (Screech-, Barred and Great Horned).  Hawks are daytime hunters while owls hunt at night, but both may be seen in the twilight hours of dusk and dawn.

Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owl – Bubo virginianus

Cooper’s Hawks and owls look for prey from a perch and then move quickly to pounce on a prey animal (‘perch-and-pounce’).  During a chase, these birds are laser focused on their prey, and because their eyes are fixed to the front they often miss objects coming from the side.

Cooper’s Hawks will fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side. [1]

The side of a highway or a city street is an ideal spot for urban perch-and-pounce raptors.  This time of year, the leaves are off the trees and rodents and squirrels have less tall grass and ground cover in which to hide.

Wildlife rescue organizations say that winter brings an uptick in raptor collisions with vehicles.  Speculation is that the increase is attributed to two groups: young first-year birds who don’t yet know the ropes and migrants.  Both groups would be unfamiliar with the territory and the roads. [2]

Although raptors are fast and agile, they are no match for fast-moving vehicles.

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii

So, when driving in town, especially in urban neighborhoods with lots of trees and good hunting spots, slow down.  If you see a squirrel, chipmunk or small rodent racing across the street, hit the brakes.  Not just to save the squirrel, but because a raptor may be close behind.  Drive like your children and wildlife live here.

If you hit a raptor and it is still alive, try to get it to an animal rescue facility quickly.

References and Additional Information

[1]  Cornell – All About Birds:  Cooper’s Hawk
[2]  Audubon Society of Portland:  Winter Raptors
[3]  HawkWatch:  Risks to Raptors
[4]  City Wildlife:  Raptors in Our City

Monthly Journal – December, 2016

Neighbors and friends contributed great photos of wildlife in December:  Sandhill Cranes flying south over Peachtree Park,  a possum looking for birdseed, a Cooper’s Hawk hunting in a parking deck at Lenox mall and an owl box newly mounted way up high at owl-height.  Credits and photo descriptions are at the bottom of the post.  Thank you all and Happy New Year!

Photo Credits

[1]  Greg Thomas heard the unmistakable sound of Sandhill Cranes flying high over Peachtree Park on December 22 and snapped this great photo with his iPhone.
[2]  Stella and Jack Wissner have a guest living in their back yard.  Stella took two great photos their resident possum looking for food under their bird feeder and resting in a tree.
[3]  Cindy Mayer convinced somebody to mount her Barred Owl box very high in a pine; we reckon somewhere between 30 and 40 feet judging from the photo.  See our post: Here’s Looking at You for more on Cindy’s Barred owls.
[4]  Jan Kuttnauer sent us a photo of a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on an automobile as she was coming back to her car from an exercise session at Lenox mall.  Think he’s hunting for rodents?

Monthly Journal – July, 2016

July has been full of birds. We think our yard has never been as full of birds as this past month.  A cake of suet lasts about a day and a half and we’re filling large feeders every 4 days. Catbirds are everywhere, and we are getting up at sunrise to beat them and the robins to our ripening figs.

Birds are still fledging, and some bird houses up and down the street and on the Nature Trail are hosting their third brood of this season.  Two of the photos below, shot through our window, are of a baby catbird who wasn’t quite quite ready to fly and wound up in boxwood for a few hours.  His parents continued to feed him and eventually he got his wings and left.

What’s missing are butterflies and dragonflies.  They were everywhere this time last year and this year we are seeing very few.  Maybe the birds are eating the larvae.  We are hoping that mosquito spraying is not involved in their disappearance.

The last photo is of the newly resurfaced Nature Trail.  If you are in the neighborhood, you should go see it.

Children at Play

We just knew you’d be interested in a further report on the recently fledged Cooper’s Hawks  (see Monthly Journal, – June 2016 and Cooper’s Hawk Triplets). Yesterday Bruce sent more great photos of two of them enjoying themselves in his bird bath.  Thanks Bruce!

Monthly Journal – June, 2016

June was hot and dry.  Everybody’s looking for shade and water.  As a follow up to our last post, Bruce Hallett sent us three great photos of one of the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks enjoying his birdbath, which are below.  There is still nesting going on and the birdhouse on the Nature Trail closest to the garden area has a brood of Carolina Wren chicks.  They are keeping their parents busy and making so much noise you can hear them 25 feet away.  Remember there are those who are just beginning to nest, such as American Goldfinches ( see our blog from July last year Late Starters).

Cooper’s Hawk Triplets

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - June, 2016

Cooper’s Hawk with a food delivery

Our neighbors across the street sent us a message last night that they were watching three juvenile Cooper’s Hawks playing on a limb 90 feet above their house in a tall pine.  90 feet is so high it hurts your neck to look up.

Our ornithologist friend who lives next door to the nesting hawks said he has seen a lot of them lately in his back yard. He’s had a great time watching them in his trees and bird bath.

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - June, 2016

1 of 3 juvenile Cooper’s Hawks

His observation is that the three juveniles have just fledged and are getting their sea legs.  They’ll stay close by for a while and may even rendezvous at the nest for a few days.  The parents will most likely supplement their food supply a bit longer.  Today they were all in the trees calling to each other back and forth.  We were unable to get a picture of the three together, but will keep a close eye out and post an update if we do.

Fifty years ago Cooper’s Hawks were in real trouble–their numbers were low and declining. But they have adapted to urban living and now seem to be doing very well.  We see them all the time in our neighborhood.

Pine 7

Cooper’s Hawk nest 90 feet up

This emphasizes the importance of pines.  Some people prefer hardwoods, but pines are also a critical part of our area’s  ecology and are a significant resource for nesters, including these Cooper’s Hawks, Barred Owls, and all sorts of wildlife.

The neighbors with the hawks planted a Longleaf Pine when they moved here several years ago.  It’s quite tall and stately now, and will be magnificent some day.  Consider planting one in your yard.