Cooper’s Hawks are primarily woodland birds but so long as you have clumps of trees they can find a habitat. Here in Bosque County Texas, we are in the Edwards Plateau, which is characterized by mostly savanna scattered with trees. Hawks are abundant here. The county is named for the Bosque River, which runs north to south roughly in the center of the county. Along its eastern border, you’ll find the Brazos River which feeds the destination spot Lake Whitney.
Charles Lucien Bonaparte named the Accipiter species in 1828 in honor of fellow ornithologist and friend William Cooper. Other names it is called by include: chicken hawk; hen hawk, quail hawk, swift hawk and striker. The Accipiter genus are sometimes called “true hawks,” of which there are 50 species.
You might wonder what this bird’s diet consists of… Well, it’s mostly (bedside occasional rodents) other birds! That includes starlings, mourning doves, robins, jays, grouse, and of course — chickens. Perhaps this is why they are also called chicken hawks.
Here at the sanctuary, we have lost plenty of chickens to both Red-tailed Hawks, Owls, and of course the ever-present Cooper’s Hawk. That all ended about a year ago when the chickens’ aviary was built. This structure is an extension off of the chicken house situated at the new barn. It is draped with stainless steel wire – even on the doors. The same wire sweeps the ground at your feet for several feet all along the bottom of the structure. This means it would be very difficult for any predator to enter the aviary.
So far so good! We’ve suffered no predation for over a year now that the chickens and ducks are in the aviary. The roosters down at the hangar barn also have secure enclosures so the hawks, despite their hanging out there, cannot get a meal.
Notice how bold this bird is. Despite me approaching him – only five feet away, he stood his ground for quite a while. Instead of flying away, he simply moved his position a few times. He was eyeing and listening to the chickens so I guess my presence was more of an annoyance than anything else.