Factoid: The oldest known Cooper’s Hawk was 20 years, 4 months old. I’ve learned quite a lot about this predator, unfortunately first-hand. That said, the Cooper’s Hawk can come across as a complete idiot, a goofball… looks harmless here, right?
But the facts are this: 1) These hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. 2) Putting out seed for birds in your backyard raises the chance the Cooper’s Hawk will be attracted. Catching smaller birds is just doing what comes naturally for this hawk, but I would have preferred not to share the responsibility for the death. 3) A Cooper’s Hawk captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. They hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown their prey, holding a bird underwater until it stopped moving.
I hadn’t thought of that. The birdbath was up and to the left (note puddles) – one frightened bird hit our window which startled me enough to get up to make sure it was ok (it was; it just wanted out of there – fast!). Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next. Not sure if the hawk snatched the bird from the bath first; I just saw the death squeeze. Knocking on the window didn’t discourage it, nor did I believe if I ran out the back door that it would simply let go and fly off. As a photographer, I kept shooting. It tears me up (hmm – tears as in torn, or tears as in cry), but I captured something I hope to never see again. It’s one thing to see a bird of prey with a mouse or chipmunk, but a songbird playing in our birdbath not 6 feet away?