I don’t often see accipiters in my suburban neighbourhood. It’s too open, as the few mature trees dotted here and there are too far apart to provide the type of canopy they prefer; however, every now and then one shows up to check out my feeder. The last one I positively identified was a juvenile sitting on the back fence with a dead female or juvenile House Sparrow in its bill, while a male House Sparrow scolded it from a safe distance. That was back in July 2014.
This morning I was working at my computer, which is in a spare room overlooking the street, while keeping an eye on a large flock of starlings in the trees across the road. I wasn’t the only one watching the starlings, as a larger bird flew in and landed in the same tree. It was partially obscured by the branches of the two trees on my front lawn, but something about it didn’t look right for American Crow, which is the most common large bird in our subdivision. I grabbed my binoculars, focused on the bird through the branches, and was stunned when I realized it was a hawk. I grabbed my camera and headed outside. Fortunately it didn’t see me skulking at the end of my driveway as I took a few shots.
It was an adult, as evidenced by the brownish-orange chest and slate-coloured back. The large size and dark capped appearance identified it as a Cooper’s Hawk, the most commonly seen accipiter in my neighbourhood (or at least the one I’ve most often successfully identified). The starlings all flew out of the tree in a panic, and about ten minutes later the Cooper’s Hawk flew off as well. It was a bright moment in an otherwise dull day, and I only hope that the Cooper’s Hawk doesn’t wait another 17 months before its next appearance.