Thursday, July 3, 2014

Woosh! Poof! The Brutal and Beautiful Wild Life 10 feet out the Window!

Feral Rock Pigeon -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston, SC -- June 19. 2008

           With bird feeders outside our dining room windows, we are frequently entertained and informed by the birds who come to visit.  They also often provide us with fabulous photo ops!  Though the Feral Rock Pigeons have a hard time perching on our feeders, they take advantage of the seed that is spilled to the ground from above.  We get to know  and even develop relationships with our regulars such as Princess Bluebird who begged at the window for mealworms.

"Princess"  -- Eastern Bluebird -- tapping at window to beg for mealworms -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston -- April 2013
For more about her, see this blog post from April 2013 and this one from May 2013.  (I will give you an update on Princess at the end of today's blog post.)  Another regular whom we often see perched in the live oak above the feeders is this beautiful killer Cooper's Hawk.  Now remember, before the squeamish among you protest, yes, big birds eat little birds, anoles, frogs, ducklings, etc.  And everybody has to eat to survive.  Big birds sometimes kill little birds so that they can feed their families.  It is the way of nature. 

Cooper's Hawk -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston, SC -- January 22, 2011

          This brings me to yesterday evening's show during our dinner.  Woosh!  A sudden movement right outside the window caught my attention and caused me to look up.  I missed what it was .... but Poof! ..... a sudden release of small bird feathers floated up.  I immediately knew that our Cooper's Hawk had come to dine himself.  We looked down out the window and sure enough, there was the Cooper's on top of a struggling feral Rock Pigeon who may have outweighed him!  Impressive!  Carl's camera was thankfully handy. 

Cooper's Hawk with kill, a Feral Rock Pigeon -- Parc Perlière -- July 2, 2014 -- Photo by Carl Miller

 Not only did Carl take the shot above, he also took some video which will show you how the hawk struggled with the size of his prey!  For the more squeamish among you, the pigeon is already dead in this clip so you will not see it struggle, if you choose to watch it.

The Cooper's Hawk did manage to fly off with his prey!

      Update on our Princess Bluebird:  Just a couple of weeks ago while I was napping on the sofa, I heard an insistent and familiar tap, tap, tap on the dining room window.  Could it be Princess Bluebird?  I got up to look and sure enough, there she was!  Tapping for mealworms!  But where has she been all Spring?   We have had some bluebirds investigating our box as potential residents this Spring.  But it was the Carolina Chickadees who used the box this Spring.  That day, I watched Princess and her mate fly to the bluebird box.   Yes, indeed, these two had decided to begin building a nest in mid-June (which is a bit late) and Princess tapped at my window daily.  And then it stopped.  I have seen her mate but not her.  It is possible that she met her end.  Was it the Cooper's Hawk?  We have no evidence of that.  He is not the only predator out there.  There's a young Red-shouldered Hawk that likes to hang out on the bluebird box across the street in the churchyard.  Yet, it is possible that Princess may have died in the Cooper's talons.  We must remember when we observe wildlife that the ways of nature can be beautiful and brutal.  Killing is how they survive. 


  1. Nice "homey" story and impressive Cooper's Hawk. He seems to be a relatively young one but strong enough.

    1. Thank you! I am glad to hear that you liked this post! This Cooper's Hawk is small, but he is decidedly an adult. A juvenile Cooper's Hawk's plumage is quite different. Check out the Cornell's Lab of Ornithology site on Cooper's Hawk to view the differences in plumage: