A violent meeting at a bird feeder between a Cooper’s hawk and a dove equals an explosion of feathers and nature untamed in a backyard.
It makes sense that a backyard bird feeder would be an ideal hunting ground for predators, winged or otherwise. It’s basically a baited stand or mini-food plot, after all.
A Cooper’s hawk took advantage of the bird feeder in this backyard to make a meal of a dove. The homeowner grabbed his camera immediately after seeing what he called “an explosion of white feathers, and then the hawk just crashed into the ground with the dove.”
The dove was an Eurasian collared dove, which according to the homeowner narrator are “big birds,” with a wingspan of around 20 inches and weighing upwards of a half-pound. That’s about half the size of a female Cooper’s hawk, which can have a wingspan of two to three feet and weigh a shade over a pound.
Cooper’s hawks feed primarily upon other birds. They hunt and attack by using the element of surprise to their advantage, by flying through vegetation to strike their oblivious prey with great force.
Cornell University conducted a study of Cooper’s hawk skeletons and found that this form of violent surprise attack isn’t easy on the hawk either. 23 percent of the hawk skeletons they studied showed “old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the…wishbone.”
The narrator indicates that the hawk accelerated and struck the dove from a distance of only around 10 feet away. Yet the impact was so violent that it resulted in “an explosion of white feathers” from the dove.
Interestingly, and also clearly evident in the video, is the manner in which Cooper’s hawks kill their prey once in hand. Most hawks will kill still-living prey by holding it and tearing at it with their beaks. Cooper’s hawks, on the other hand, finish off their prey by squeezing the life from it with their taloned feet.
We see that trait quite clearly here, as the hawk firmly presses the struggling dove to the ground, with a couple of adjustments to its grip and body position, until it flies off with its victim’s limp body in its talons.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology also indicates that a Cooper’s hawk will sometimes even drown its prey by holding it underwater until it expires.