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Thread: Cooper's Hawk diet (puppies?)

  1. #1
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    Cooper's Hawk diet (puppies?)

    I came home from work yesterday, after spending 2 hours setting up my father's iPod (rant unto itself) to find a Cooper's Hawk hanging out in my back yard.

    Our dog is a chihuahua Italian greyhound mix, with a sort of brown-tan-white faded color scheme. He's just under 11 pounds.

    I looked up diets of Cooper's hawks and found that they eat small birds and mammals, but it wasn't quite as specific about exactly what a "small mammal" might be.

    The bird was actually a bit smaller than the dog, but the GF is really worried, and I'm a little concerned. He didn't show any interest in the dog yesterday, but that might not always be the case. Will a Cooper's hawk take a small dog?
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  2. #2
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    While I'm sure a hwk that size could kill a dog that size, I doubt that it would since there is no way it could carry it off.

  3. #3
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    Not if you have a lot of birds in your area.

    I wrote a long post or two about my local cooper's hawk that showed up after the local redtailed hawks were displaced by new construction. Nothing tells you you're 50 years old and twenty feet up a tree quite like having a larger female perch next to your head and look you square in the face.

    From your picture I'd say she is staking the area out for birds coming to feed on those dried what'sits that's hanging from that bush she's perched in.

    A friend of mine who tracks told me how to not blame the cat for small bird mortalities and that is if you find a LOT of feathers are lying around it was more than likely a bird of prey as cats aren't thorough in plucking birds. So if you find patchs of feathers that include even the downy ones it's probably the cooper's hawk.

  4. #4
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    Cooper's Hawks generally eat small birds, particularly song birds. They often hang out around backyard birdfeeders, to well... feed upon the birds. If they go after small mammals, it would be something the size of a mouse.

    If for some reason they thought of your dog as a threat they might attack it, though I'd be a little surprised, but it would not be to eat it. If, for example, it was nesting near by, it might try to threaten the dog to chase it away (it might even try the same to you), but I would be surprised if it actually physically attacked. At 11 pounds, your dog probably outweighs the bird by a lot.

    You need to go up to something like a Redtail Hawk before you get to hawks big enough to even go after animals as big as rabbits.
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  5. #5
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    And small mammals usually refers to small insectivores like shrews and rodents. If that was a redtailed hawk I'd have a concern. Not the cooper's hawk though.

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    Good to know thanks.

    Don, those whatsits are apples in the apple tree that stands about 30 feet tall. The bird was about 10 feet up. We've also got a bird feeder in the backyard that attracts chickadees, the things I recently found out aren't starlings, and some little brown birds with red heads and chests. The feral cats have made at least two kills because I've seem them carting off the bodies.

    We also have a pair of doves that hang out now and then, or we might, and a big tree in the yard next door attracts a lot of crows, but they mainly just drop stuff in our yard to see what the dog does with it. Doll heads. Half a fish. Hamburger buns.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    A friend of mine who tracks told me how to not blame the cat for small bird mortalities and that is if you find a LOT of feathers are lying around it was more than likely a bird of prey as cats aren't thorough in plucking birds. So if you find patchs of feathers that include even the downy ones it's probably the cooper's hawk.
    A few years ago at the nature center where I volunteer, a Redtail Hawk killed one of the Mallard ducks that hung around the area, and did it right by our "Window on Wildlife" which is a wall of windows looking out on our birdfeeders. The hawk sat there for a couple of hours slowly plucking the duck and eating it. There were feathers and blood everywhere. About half of our visitors were fascinated, the rest were too disgusted to watch. I, of course, watched the whole thing and took pictures.
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    Look up "house finch" to see if those aren't your little red-headed guys.

    The cooper's hawk at my folks house got used to me and would take prey even when I was working in the yard. I've seen mine take starlings on the wing, which is an amazing sight to see. Sometimes there was drama and sometimes the birds just went out like they were Vulcan nerve pinched.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    The cooper's hawk at my folks house got used to me and would take prey even when I was working in the yard. I've seen mine take starlings on the wing, which is an amazing sight to see.
    I was watching our feeder at home one day when a Sharp-shinned Hawk (related to the Cooper's) took a starling right off the feeder.
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  10. #10
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    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-coopers-hawk.htm
    Typically, the Cooper's hawk will kill its prey by squeezing it to death, biting, or even drowning. The hawk's diet consists mostly of other medium-sized birds including robins, meadowlarks, and blackbirds. The hawk also feeds on a variety of other animals, including chipmunks, mice, and squirrels, as well as insects, lizards, and bats.

    I think Jack is a little outside of it's usual diet.

  11. #11
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    Just applying a little common sense and some research using a birding book or the internet: Cooper's hawk adults weigh between 0.5 and 0.75 pounds. At risk of invoking unladen swallows or swallows carrying coconuts on a line, there's no way a 14 ounce bird is going to carry away (or even attack) 11 pound dog.

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    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
    King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
    King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
    You knew it was coming....

  13. #13
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    *facepalms*

    CJSF

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    I've seen Cooper's Hawks take mammals as large as Fox Squirrels (which weigh as much as the hawk). A birding friend of mine has seen a housecat carcass in a Cooper's Hawk nest, but that may have been a nest raid gone wrong. He probably has photos, but they're not up on his website for some reason.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rommel543 View Post
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
    King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
    King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
    You knew it was coming....
    BEDEMIR: How do know so much about swallows?
    ARTHUR: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king you know.
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  16. #16
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    African or European? .. American!... Aaaaaaaaargh -- brought to you by the classic scene mix-up crew.

    Wish I could take a pic of that bird. Beautiful, Tog.
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  17. #17
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    I think I've mentioned in another thread that I feed our backyard varmints pretty well. As a result, we get a fairly steady population of birds and squirrels, and the occasional hawk.

    Last week, I saw a hawk perched on a branch of the crape myrtle... beautiful bird. Then I noticed, perched in the silver maple about 20 feet away, a squirrel, hunched over and not moving. The BW made me go outside and shoo the hawk away.

    Then, earlier today, I was out back removing the plastic rain covering from the flowers in the rose bed. When I finished, I turned around and saw a mound of dove feathers. That's all, just the feathers.

    The hawk came back.

    Oh, I take my Lab to the dog park routinely. There are two parks, one for dogs under 25 pounds and one for the big dogs. In the small dog park there is a sign, "Beware of Hawks."
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tog View Post
    We also have a pair of doves that hang out now and then, or we might, and a big tree in the yard next door attracts a lot of crows, but they mainly just drop stuff in our yard to see what the dog does with it. Doll heads. Half a fish. Hamburger buns.
    Maybe they're preparing the dog for dinner...



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  19. #19
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    Red tailed hawks, on the other hand, while maybe a threat to pups also eat a tremendous amount of large snakes. Which are also a threat to pups.

    I've seen my local red tails flying overhead with large thrashing black snakes at least three times. 6 to 7 footers. (Impressive snakes for local guys.) Plus I've seen them kill snakes two other times. Those were swallowed in place so were undoubtably much smaller snakes. The only mammals I recall see being taken by red tailed hawks were squirrels and pocket gophers. Two big friends to the gardener, no?

  20. #20
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    Growing up we tended to loose cats to barn owls. As for dogs we've always had labs so even as puppies there was no concern about them being taken. The only other concern that we had was coyotes. Again they would go after the cats but were scared of the dogs. The last one my parents had was the one that I trained. She was a black lab/newfoundlander cross. She got the lab coat and shape with the size of the neufie. For fun she would go out to the pasture and dig up badgers, yet in was gentle enough that kids could crawl over her. Just don't come to the house when no one is home. She almost went though the window at our neighbor once when he knocked on our door. She got through the first panes of glass but not the second, and this is someone who was over at the house almost every day and played with her in the yard.

  21. #21
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    Growing up we tended to loose cats to barn owls.
    Sorry, but as read, this indicates you've let your cats loose to attack the barn owls. I think you mean you "tended to lose cats" to barn owls, who were the aggressors. I don't mean to be a grammar policeman, or a Gillian wanna-be (ha! as if), but this "loose for lose" thing is really getting out of hand, in my opinion.

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    Growing up on a wheat farm in Kansas, we always had a plethora of cats, and there seemed to be a steady turnover. Rarely were we sure what had happened to them. Red-tailed hawks we seemed to have plenty of (I think that is correct) as well as coyotes. Rattle snakes were not uncommon, and at least once, we discovered a medium sized speciman in the cinder blocks that were part of the back deck, with what seemed to be some kitty leftovers.

    Coyotes were not bothersome, unless they got into the chicken house, and the hawks were strictly off limits, legally and by my fathers rule. Rattlers were fair game, as were coyotes. A few times we discovered coyote dens, and had fun laying off with binoculars watching the little ones play. I wish had been into photography then.

    On rare occasion a possum would get into the chicken house, and a large uproar would ensue. I can remember dad picking them up by the tail, while the possum did his best to twist and use what seemed to be a rather impressive set of teeth. Then drop it into a 5 gallon bucket, add a lid with a breathing hole, a kid on top of the lid just in case, and a trip in the pickup a couple miles away to drop it off. I hated having to sit on the lid, being pretty sure that those teeth were going to get some use.... (side note, I have never actually seen a possum "playing" possum, although I have seen many of them)

    TJ

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    I don't believe I've seen a possum "playing possum" either. Nearly all of the ones I've seen were actually dead. They do appear to have a wicked looking set of teeth. Too bad they don't have a brain to match.

    I'd never seen a possum in these parts until about 25-30 years ago, when suddenly there were lots of them dead along the roadsides. I'm still not sure if they were originally native here. Lately I think the population has declined and they've been replaced by raccoons, which are very much smarter.
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    Last Saturday, I was walking my dog around the duck pond (a regular thing) when I noticed an empty plastic booze bottle on the grass. I picked it up and tossed it in a trash barrel we passed. There was no liner and I glanced inside the barrel. There was a beer bottle in there already. (Yeah, yeah, no alcohol in the park.)

    The next day we were on our walk and passed the same barrel. I glanced inside to see what might have been added. There was a very large possum curled up around the bottles in the bottom of the barrel, either napping or drunk or both. He opened his eyes, looked at me, bared his (very long and impressively sharp) teeth and hissed.

    We kept walking.
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  25. #25
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    I couldn't say if a Cooper's Hawk will take puppies or not, but general consensus here (and on wiki) was that a fox was unlikely to take neighborhood pets.

    The summer after I'd asked the question, the fox family (now four) that had taken residence near my parents' home a few years ago were seen to have taken a neighborhood cat, had confronted a full sized golden retriever... plus the human doing the walking... and were in the process of mugging my neighbor's dog (chained up) when my father and neighbor intervened to save it. The dog was unhurt, but it was very, very lucky all the same.

    If there's any doubt in your mind that a Cooper's Hawk could someday take a puppy, take steps to protect the puppy before you have to find out empirically.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Last Saturday, I was walking my dog around the duck pond (a regular thing) when I noticed an empty plastic booze bottle on the grass. I picked it up and tossed it in a trash barrel we passed. There was no liner and I glanced inside the barrel. There was a beer bottle in there already. (Yeah, yeah, no alcohol in the park.)

    The next day we were on our walk and passed the same barrel. I glanced inside to see what might have been added. There was a very large possum curled up around the bottles in the bottom of the barrel, either napping or drunk or both. He opened his eyes, looked at me, bared his (very long and impressively sharp) teeth and hissed.

    We kept walking.
    A few years ago, when my niece was living in my parents' basement, she heard a noise and went to investigate. There was a large possum trapped in the window well. (For those without basements, the window well is a recessed area in the ground around a basement window, lined with concrete or metal.)

    She tried putting a board down for it to crawl out, but it seemed to be in bad shape. Eventually she put on gloves and lifted it out, then gave it cat food and water!
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    If there's any doubt in your mind that a Cooper's Hawk could someday take a puppy, take steps to protect the puppy before you have to find out empirically.
    I thought I'd be witty and post something about dog collars with GPS locators... and discovered they exist... I wonder if any have ever been tracked up to some eagle's nest.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I don't believe I've seen a possum "playing possum" either. Nearly all of the ones I've seen were actually dead. They do appear to have a wicked looking set of teeth. Too bad they don't have a brain to match.
    I have, sort of, once. When I lived in Louisiana, I was hiking in a park one day and took a break by sitting on a picnic table (yes, I was actually sitting on the table). After sitting there for a few minutes, I got up and as I walked away, I heard and watched a possum run out from under the table and run away. Apparently, he was playing possum under the table the whole time I sat there, and when I left, he made his move.

    Possums are pretty common around here. Last year we had one sitting on our front steps.
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  29. #29
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    Bring this back for a bit of an update and another pretty odd question.

    A few weeks ago I was in the back yard and I noticed all the birds chirping the same pattern. Chirp-chirp squawk-squawk-squawk. I couldn't see which birds, but I'm pretty sure it was the chickadees. While I was looking around for a bird to confirm this, I saw the hawk, way up in a tree almost straight above me. I looked at him for a bit, then he flew off. As soon as he flew, the "chirp-chirp squawk-squawk-squawk" stopped.

    Just now, I was outside again and heard that same pattern, but only from one bird. I started looking around for the hawk, and sure enough, he was circling high overhead and drifting a little further away with each orbit. I'd guess he was about 1/4 mile from the house when the other bird stopped that pattern.

    I'm going t see if they make that same pattern when the cat is around, but if they don't, did I learn the Chickadee word for "hawk"? "cause, that would be sort of cool.
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  30. #30
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    You probably learned the chickadee/Paridae "word" for "predator" which may or may not be the same as "feline overlord" ;-). I notice around here that Cardinals and other finches give a similar harsh "chip" note when a hawk is around or a snake or a cat. Warblers have similar alarm notes, but tend to be higher pitched. I've noticed thrushes and jays each have their own alarm calls that are very distinct from other groups of birds.

    Most likely you heard a general "hey! predator here! stay away!"

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