Thursday, January 04, 2007

Navigating Tree Branches

The Cooper’s Hawk visiting the Colvin Run Habitat has now been photographed on December 23, 24, 26, 30, and January 1, and observed (but not photographed) on January 2. The January 1 photos are, without a doubt, the best photos.

Here are the photos from the December 30 visit when this hawk perched in the nearby oak trees at about 50 feet off of the ground (first photo). I waited around until the hawk left and caught the last three photos. When the hawk left its perch, it dropped down into the tree branches and stayed below treetop level. These photos are an interesting addition to the first photo and the January 1 photos where the hawk is perched and stationary.

Look closely, as the tree branches are considerable. In the second photo, the hawk has just left the perch and is in a stooping-like position. In the third photo, the hawk is beginning to flap its wings. Finally, in the fourth photo, the hawk is gliding with its wings extended and steady. The amount of branches look worst than it is because the camera is shooting up and through lots of lower branches. However, if you look closely, you will clearly see that the hawk is below a number of the larger branches.

As seen in the January 1 photos, this hawk came into the birdfeeder area and perched only 5 feet off of the ground. To see this bird hunt in the close quarters of tree branches, with a wingspan of 2½ feet, is truly a thing of beauty. In fact, reports, “Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a rather dangerous lifestyle. A recent study found that 23 percent of all Cooper's Hawks examined had healed fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula or wishbone.”

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