Thursday, February 3, 2011

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

f/8, 1/1000s, ISO 400, Full Frame
I skipped out of work a little early to enjoy the sunshine (since it's been such a rare event this winter) and try and find a Short Eared Owl which has been seen sparingly along Dune Rd. in recent weeks.  Well surprise surprise no owl (I've yet to find one while in the act of pursuing one) but my trip was salvaged by a cooperative juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched on a telephone line directly north of the Tiana Beach parking lot.  The bird hungout for a little but when I tried to drive past it and continue east it took off into the thickets not to be seen again.  (Below is a quick video - not terribly exciting!)

I'm far from an expert on birds but it seems to me that there has been an increase in the number of Cooper's Hawks seen along Dune Rd. during non-migration times which is not their standard habitat.  Certainly during fall migration, Cooper's Hawks are seen in good numbers at places like the Robert Moses Hawk Watch but I find it interesting that these birds are frequenting the Dunes and marshes of Hampton Bays and East Quogue and competing with the likes of Northern Harriers, Merlins and Peregrines for prey.  If anyone knows more or wants to weigh in feel free to leave a comment.  In my opinion Cooper's Hawks have been expanding their range to include the barrier beaches at least on a very local scale.  Below are two images from last winter of an Adult Cooper's Hawk chasing off a Northern Harrier about 1/4 mile West of where the above bird was seen.

 Full Extension from the Cooper's:

For those looking for a good book to help you ID birds (and not just raptors) I use a few but to nail down the ID of this particular juv. Cooper's Hawk (which can be tough given their similarities to Sharp-Shinned Hawks) I used Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America which I highly recommend (book review to come!)



  1. My sense is that Cooper's Hawk has indeed become much more common on Long Island in general. Hard to believe the DEC once considered them a species of concern. Although resident year round, winter numbers are probably higher than summer.

    Angus Wilson

  2. Thanks Angus. I have been a casual observer for maybe 3 winters now... the first winter all I saw were Northern Harriers, last winter there was a smattering of Peregrines and Cooper's, this winter I have seen Peregrines, Merlins, Coopers and Harriers in addition to the reported SEO (which I've only seen photos of). Certainly the unusual weather is playing a role and it's unknown if when I see a Merlin I am seeing the same one or if there are several individuals. It's interesting in the least.