Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Cooper's Hawk
 
 

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  Order Falconiformes (Accipitriformes) - Diurnal Birds of Prey
   Family Accipitridae - Hawks, Eagles, Kites
      Subfamily Accipitrinae - Kites, Harriers, Sea Eagles, Buteos, Eagles
         Accipiters
  Diurnal Birds of Prey include raptors with talons and hooked bill. Most hunt animal prey using acute vision which may be supplemented by hearing. (Several Old World forms have specialized for carrion eating with bare heads and long necks. They lack talons. These buteos are properly called "buzzards," not our New World Vultures.)
   The Tree of Life includes the diurnal birds of prey (and New World Vultures) in the Accipitriformes. The Encyclopedia of Life includes them in the Ciconiiformes.
Accipitrids (osprey, kites, harriers, sea eagles, buteos, and eagles) are found in all parts of the world except Antarctica and some islands. 
Accipiters are relatively short-winged and long-tailed and feed largely on birds ("bird-hawks"). They hunt prey by ambush. 
     
     
  Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii
 
 Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Fairly common, breeds
            MATURE FOREST, MIXED - EDGES (more open areas in winter)
 
 
   The Cooper's Hawk is about the size of a Laughing Gull or Fish Crow (with a shorter wing spread). When perched, they look much like Sharp-shinned Hawks. The adult male has a pale nape that might be evident. Its wing beats are stiff and choppy and it tends to hold the wings in a slight dihedral when gliding and elevated when soaring. They have a characteristic flight pattern - "flap, flap, glide..." Cooper's Hawks are larger headed than the Sharp-shinned Hawk in proportion. The tail tends to be longer and more rounded.
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
 
Cooper's Hawk.
 
Photo by Chris Miller. © Low Country Wild
Sea Loft Villas. Photo by Irene Haskins
   
  RANGE: Cooper's Hawks breed across the US, extending into southern Canada and the mountains of Mexico. They are more southerly breeders than sharpies. They winter through Mexico to Guatamala and Honduras. They were on the Blue List from 1972-81 and Special Concern 1982. Population declines were linked to DDT.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. The male selects the nest site in a tree, 25-50 feet up - sometimes placed on an old nest or a clump of mistletoe. Both sexes (?) build a bulky platform nest of sticks lined with softer materials and strips of bark. Females lay 3-5 (1-7) eggs which are incubated mostly by the female for 32-36 days. The male brings food during incubation and may sit on the eggs while his mate eats. Development is semialtricial. The female remains with the young to brood for up to 2 weeks after hatching with the male bring food which she feeds the chicks. Young may climb around in about 4 weeks and fly after 27-34 days and are tended by both parents. The male does most of the hunting for food during incubation and the early nestling period. Young hatch nearly synchronously but may differ in size. They depend on their parents up to 40 days after fledging.
  DIET: Cooper's Hawks feed on larger birds (doves, blackbirds, young poultry - "chicken hawk") and small mammals and insects. They hunt by stealth - moving in dense cover, listening and watching, then catching prey with a rapid dash. They sometimes forage over open ground, taking prey by surprise.
  VOICE: Generally silent except at the nest.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook (breeds). Kiawah - uncommon year round (breeds).
      Coastal - uncommon and local winter resident. Hilton Head - fairly common permanent resident.
         Cape Romain
- occasional year-round, breeds. Huntington Beach - uncommon September - February; rare March - July.
      Caw Caw - fairly common/absent/fairly common/fairly common. ACE - occasional year-round.
   CBC: ACE 3, 2, 4, 2, 1, 6, 3, 1; Charleston 2, 6, 4, 4, 2, 3, 8, 0;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 2, 1; Hilton Head 7, 9, 7, 18, 5, 10,12, 13; Sun City/Okatie 0, 1, 0, 2, 0, 4, 4, 1;
            McClellanville 6, 1, 3, 3, nc, 2, 7, 6; Winyah Bay x, x, 1, 5, 4, 4, 3, 7; Litchfield/Pawley's 4, 3, 8, 1, 4, 6, 8, 5.
   SCBBA: Colleton, Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry Counties - coast. Also above fall line.
   P&G: Uncommon winter visitor, more during fall migration. Rare breeder. Egg dates 1 Marcy - 6 May. Maximum, Kiawah Island, 22 birds, 16 October 1983.
   Avendex: 8 published records (most July-September).
   Potter: Inhabitant of dense woods and adjacent edges. Uncommon winter resident and rare summer resident, mainly in the mountains and piedmont.
  ●  Fairly common. I have seen Cooper's Hawks regularly along Capn' Sam's Creek and on Jenkins Point. They are likely over our brushy edges  and estuaries. Look for this crow-sized accipiter along edges and fields. Cooper's are more common on Seabrook than sharpies which do not breed here.
   In 2009, one nesting Cooper's female regularly attacked walkers and bicycle riders near Palmetto Lake in the vicinity of her nest. In 2010, a pair was resident along the Ocean Winds course.
     
Cooper's and eagle
 
     
Bald Eagle being chased by a Cooper's Hawk.
Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary, SC
Photo by Ed Konrad
Eagle and accipiter
 
 
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KEY:    ■ Seabrook list     □ Kiawah list