Last fall our neighborhood Cooper’s Hawk took to hanging out in the pomegranate tree where he could easily keep track of birds at the feeders.
The Cooper’s Hawk is a sleek rapid flying hawk that negotiates tree limbs at high speed when chasing its prey. One of its favorite prey is the Mourning Dove. Our backyard feeders attract Mourning Doves so this means that Cooper’s Hawks are on the prowl. I have a saying that if you want to attract Cooper’s Hawks, throw a lot of sunflower seeds on the ground.
When the backyard birds spot a Cooper’s Hawk they are gone in the blink of an eye. One second there are 2-3 dozen birds on the ground and at the feeders and an eye blink later there are zero birds. When this happens I know to look out for a Cooper’s Hawk on the prowl.
This is a small acrylic painting made from my hawk sketch and Dave’s photo
I guess it’s time for a interlude from things tropical, well at least for a few posts. Floy and I did our annual trip to the migratory birding areas of San Louis and Merced National Wildlife Refuges and the Panoche Valley, all of which are in Central California. Panoche Valley is semi-desolate with some cattle farming. This area attracts birds that are not often seen in the San Jose, California area such as Horned Larks, Mountain Plovers, Mountain Bluebirds, etc. It’s not unusual to see the Ferruginous Hawk there in the winter. After rain, the Panoche area can be emerald green. Beware of the mid-summer because it can get very hot and dry there.
This is the same hawk Floy presented in her sketch below. Unlike other hawks of the area, this one spends a great deal of time standing in open fields. Scanning the vast fields of the valley it’s not uncommon to see them standing as a white pillar in the distance.
In general I don’t like using Dave’s photos as references for my paintings - except when the photo is flawed in some way.. In this case the hawk in the photo was lopped off on the right side. But I loved the pose and used it as reference for this quick sketch. It was amazing to see this hawk up close on our trip through Panoche Valley.
Walking across the Stone Bridge at the La Selva Research Station. I was more or less not paying attention to what was in front of me and you can imagine my surprise when I lifted my head and came eye to eye with an adult Broad-winged Hawk.
This hawk migrates across Costa Rica in large numbers and will flock with other hawks and Turkey Vultures. Some of these migrants will winter in Costa Rica and others keep going to locations further south.