Two Coopers In One Day

Cooper's hawk in my back yard Copyright (c) B. E. Nelson 2014

Cooper’s hawk in my back yard
Copyright (c) B. E. Nelson 2014

Oh, the visitors I have had lately! The first was a sweet Golden Retriever that had slipped his leash. As we opened the garage door for my daughter to go to work, this pretty boy trotted right in as if he belonged here. He nuzzled and licked – very friendly, this guy. His owner arrived in short measure with his leash as I was fending off his doggie-in-overdrive affections. Apparently, he had been unhappy that another dog had entered his domain, so he ran away from home.

His name was Cooper. If I ever have another dog, I think Cooper would make a great name. We had our Daisy, a Border Collie/Lab mix, for 17 years. She was another real sweetheart, just like Cooper seemed to be. Seeing Cooper made me miss my Daisy. It was a little sad when he left with his owner. It had been awhile since I was last smooched by a dog. Then I caught a whiff of my hands from petting him. Damp dog smell. I really hadn’t missed that. A good hand washing was in order, but it was worth it. He had put a smile on my face.

Later in the afternoon, our second visitor caused quite a commotion outside. I heard some banging out in the side yard, so I made a dash to the window in time to see a small hawk, with something dangling from its talons, fly into the low branches of our pine tree. While I didn’t see the capture, it had been savage enough to jolt me out of my chair.

After ensuring that its prey was dead with a few well-placed pecks, the hawk dropped to the ground and proceeded to, as hawk do, tear it apart and eat it. It sat in the yard and ate for thirty minutes, and I admit, I was fascinated by this feathered predator.

Only our small deck separates the pine from the house, a distance of about 15 – 20 feet, so I could see the bird pretty well. I could not – thankfully – make out the small animal that it held clutched in its talons because I’m pretty sure I would have gagged. I believe now that it was a Cooper’s hawk. I also believe that its prey, probably a small bird, was surprised to be on the lunch menu.

So, of course, I had to document. I grabbed my camera and took some photos using the telephoto lens through the screen on the window. Some of the shots weren’t very good, since a hawk has no interest in saying ‘cheese’ when it has a juicy morsel in its mouth. The choice of dairy or protein is not a hard one for a hawk.

Despite the gruesome nature of what brought it to my yard, the bird lover in me enjoyed watching it.

Finally, I opened the back door and took the clear photo that you see here. My little point and shoot did such a good job that I thought a few more pictures couldn’t hurt, right? When I opened the back door the second time, the hawk decided not to stick around for dessert and flew off into a nearby tree in a huff, having been sated with its main course.

With the hawk gone (off looking to expand the lunch menu, I assume), we will have a mess to clean up in the back yard. The new snow has covered up the remains for now. I’m hoping that we don’t get any more unexpected visitors, but I enjoyed the two we had. I’d have enjoyed the hawk more if it had bussed its own table.

The sweet Cooper and the savage Cooper’s. Both beautiful in their own ways.

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