A Raptor Rendezvous

This young hawk investigates to learn what’s attracting the things that are attracting him

Sometimes nature comes knocking.

Every morning I put seeds out for the birds that inhabit my little backyard patch, and because I’m a softie, I leave some “easy pickins” at the end of my deck for chipmunks and squirrels (which in practical effect helps keep the rascals from raiding my bird feeders). So while it’s not uncommon for me to look out my back door and see a yard full of birds and a chipmunk or two, I recently found something staring back at me that took me completely by surprise:  an inquisitive Cooper’s hawk.

With so many birds gravitating to my back yard bounty, there are of course raptors lurking in the foliage overhead most all the time, and more than a few collared doves have thus been transformed into fluttering clouds of feathers in the breeze.

While the hawks are usually here-and-gone like lightning, they will occasionally lower landing gear and drop down to ground level to check things out, up close and personal. They appear to me to be getting a closer look at whatever is attracting all the potential meals that are attracting them, as if to fine tune their strategies for future surprise attacks.

This handsome bird takes the prize for boldest yet. After inspecting the bird seed closely enough that left me wondering for a moment if it might actually nibble on some (trail mix for predators?), it thoroughly scrutinized the surrounding yard with laser intensity, tucked away details for future reference, then with a sudden flap of wings returned to an aerial perspective. Leaving me with a handful of photos, eyes wide open in wonder, and a poignant reminder that sometimes a Nature’s Coast experience awaits in my own back yard.

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