Bird #275 — Cooper’s Hawk

accipiter (hawk) cooperii (in honor of William Cooper, of New York, who shot the bird which Charles Lucien Bonaparte described for science in 1828)

Sunday, April 1, 1984 — 11:45 am

Patagonia, Arizona — Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary

This is one of the “can’t miss” birding spots in North America, but my first impression was not overwhelmingly excitement.  A dinky, muddy little creek winds through scruffy woods.  It looks a lot like a Cook County forest preserve.  But it is one of the only patches of this type of habitat left in southern Arizona, and it is a magnet for birds.

We left Dad whittling by the van and walked the trails.  A serious flood had swept through the valley the previous year and things were looking scruffier than usual.  Near an old bridge abutment, the creek widened out into a little pool.  We were enjoying the view when we saw two hawks zip through the cottonwoods, one chasing the other.  The chaser flew to a limb of a tree and sat for a few minutes, calling loudly.  It sat upright on the branch and gave us a good view.  I suspect the chasee may have been an immature Gray Hawk.  (I saw three there a little while later.)

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