Toshimi Kristof took these photos near her home in Bear Valley Springs of Cooper's Hawk as it paused on an oak limb in the late afternoon light.
Cooper's Hawks (Accipiter cooperii) are a type of accipiter which becomes much more common in the Tehachapi Mountains in the late autumn and winter months. They can be very difficult to distinguish from the smaller but similar Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus).
Both of these birds primarily hunt other birds, and are often drawn to backyard bird feeders where they prey on the smaller birds attracted to seed feeders. Accipiters, which include Northern Goshawks, are full-throttle birds with incredible flight skills that are able to routinely catch other birds in flight.
The bird in these photos appears to be a juvenile-plummaged Cooper's Hawk, and it accommodated Toshimi and her husband Les while they were on an afternoon walk by presenting both its front and back.
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks are fearless in their pursuit of prey, and from time to time become impaled on sharp sticks and branches when they chase other birds into brush piles and thickets.
Several years ago, House Sparrows and House Finches were feeding on spilled birdseed by the back loading doors at the Tehachapi Kmart, and a Cooper's Hawk chased a couple of them into the warehouse area. It lived there for about a week, eating songbirds that it found inside, but was unable to free itself despite the doors being open. A friend and I finally were finally able to trap it in the loft and release it unharmed.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.