[Tweeters] Crows and Cooper's Hawk

Ruth Taylor rutht at seanet.com
Sun Nov 11 16:22:44 PST 2007

Hi Doug and Tweets:

I've certainly seen crows mob plenty of birds of prey, and there are both lots of crows and increasing numbers of Cooper's Hawks in my Ballard neighborhood.
Based on what I've seen since moving to Ballard and before when I lived in the Greenlake area, I think that crows base the intensity of their harassment of Cooper's Hawks on the age of the Coop more than on other factors. In general, I think they give adult Coops a lot of respect when on the wing, often flying parallel to the hawk but a safe distance away, while they actively dive on flying juveniles. Also, if I see crows swooping at a perched adult Coop, usually there are only 1, 2 or 3 crows, as opposed to 5 or 10 when the Coop is a juvenile. A few weeks ago, I watched an adult female Coop shoot straight up a doug-fir to displace a crow on the very top that was looking down at her. She landed right in its face, and the crow vacated immediately. I loved it!
Cooper's Hawks appear to be increasingly substantially as breeding birds here, rather than just being here in the winter. As we all know, there are tons of crows here. It should be interesting to see how they interact with each other.
BTW, be sure to look for color bands on Cooper's Hawks and try to read the alpha-numeric combo on the band. Jack Bettesworth is doing a study locally. Also, Andy Stewart in Victoria is doing a study and has had a couple of reports from the Seattle area. The WOS website has contact information and more details on these studies. Plus, if you see the bird again and read the band again, you know for sure that it's the same individual.

Ruth Taylor
rutht at seanet.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Plummer <2doug at dougplummer.com>
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Date: Friday, November 09, 2007 4:00 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Crows and Cooper's Hawk

Our street has a resident Cooper's Hawk. It often perches in the chestnut tree in the neighbor's yard, where it has an unfettered view of my bird feeders. Days go by with not a peep nor a visit to the feeders, and I know that the hawk is around.

This morning I heard a loud, frantic call, and looked out my kitchen window to see the Cooper's on the ground with a Starling pinned beneath it. Not a bad choice of prey, I thought. As it kneaded the bird with its talons and the cries grew weaker and ceased, the two resident crows joined to watch. They did not harass the hawk, they just were paying attention. When he flew off with the limp Starling, the crows followed.

I've seen this before--our neighborhood crows are like our beat cops. They know the resident thugs, the accipiters that winter on the street, and monitor them. They don't mob or harass them, but they're always nearby, keeping watch. Yes, we know you have a job to do, and you have a right to be here. But we're keeping an eye on you.

If a strange hawk, say a red-tailed, shows up on the street, then the beat cops shout for backup. There'll be 20 crows raising an alarm, and the hawk eventually flies off in disgust. But they've accepted the ones that winter over and obey the rules, whatever they are.

Doug Plummer
Doug Plummer, Photographer

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