In August of 2011, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a family of Coopers Hawks nesting in the trees 5 minutes away from my home in Irvine, California. Over the next six weeks, I witnessed and photographed all kinds of interactions between the mother and her young. However, the feeding process is what captivated me more than anything else. It was fascinating to watch, and a typical scene would unfold something like this: The two juveniles would sit in the trees squawking for something to eat. Within minutes, Mama Cooper would usually fly in and drop off a small sparrow-sized bird that she had recently killed. The two hungry chicks would immediately fight for the prize and once one bird had secured the meal, it was showtime.
The victorious Cooper, with small bird held securely in sharp talons, would then fly to a favorite feeding branch to begin the ‘meal preparation’. Note: this tree branch happened to be only about 15 feet above the ground, and as long as I moved in slowly, I was able to position myself to capture all the graphic action without scaring the bird away. The thick canopy coverage and dark shadows at first seemed like a serious hurdle, but armed with my flash and 400mm zoom lens, it was a non-issue.
Back to the action. The Cooper would settle in and spend the first 2 to 3 minutes defeathering the small bird. Then it was time to devour the meal. Nothing other than the removed feathers was wasted. The Cooper would eat the beak, bones and even the small pointed claws of the fallen sparrow. After the meal was completed, junior Cooper would clean his beak on the side of a smaller tree branch, then squawk a victory cry or two and fly off.
Although some of these pictures are quite graphic, this is the reality in which these animals exist…the circle of life. If interested, more photos of these and other magnificent raptors may be viewed on my fine art web site at http://martophotography.
Share on social media:
You may also like:
Paul has been passionate about photography since the early 80's. Nature, wildlife and action shots are his favorites. He loves the challenge that arises from the unpredictability of his subjects when he is trying to capture the perfect wildlife moment. He is a native of California and has spent the last 28 years in Orange County. Mr. Marto grew up in Carmel Valley, so it is no surprise that he gravitated towards wildlife photography. Mountain bike riding, hiking, tennis and playing the electric guitar round out the list of pursuits for this UC San Diego graduate. He has a beautiful wife and two adorable children. Paul’s work has recently been highlighted by National Geographic, Sea & Sage Audubon Society, The Environmental Nature Center, The O.C. Register, Irvine World News, WildlifePhotographyNews.net, Irvine Valley College and Photo of the Day.com. He is a recent winner in the City of Irvine 40th Anniversary Photo Contest and his works have won numerous on line photo contests as well. Juried into a number of organizations including LagunaArt.com, AmericaFineArt.org, Artists of America, Gallery 104, RAWArtists.org and TurningArt.com. He is active within the Irvine Unified School District and gives presentations on wildlife photography. "Through my photography, I am trying to bring awareness to the abundant collection of wildlife that cohabit the Orange County area. The more we know about these amazing animals and their requirements, the better prepared we will be to live a peaceful coexistence with them. I strive to present brilliant photographs of these wonderful creatures, large and small, in a way that will both inspire and educate.”
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [1383 Views]
- Karma Strikes Again: Trophy Hunter Killed by Elephant [1120 Views]
- POLL: Should the Grizzly Bear be removed from the Endangered Species List? [1007 Views]
- POLL: Should all circuses with wild animals be closed down? [967 Views]
- ‘Kill them, kill them, kill them’: the volunteer army plotting to wipe out Britain’s grey squirrels [817 Views]
- $10,000 reward offered to find killer of famous Yellowstone white wolf [701 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [626 Views]
- Elephants Can’t Wait to Meet New Rescued Baby at Sanctuary [617 Views]
- Heroic Boat Captain Rescues Entangled Great White Shark [614 Views]
- Live donkey fed to tigers in shareholder protest at Chinese zoo [587 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42100 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16884 Views]
- POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11134 Views]
- POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [10607 Views]
- POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8675 Views]
- POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8246 Views]
- POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7444 Views]
- POLL: Should the killing of giraffes be outlawed? [4685 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes be stopped? [4657 Views]
- POLL: Should Spain’s “Running of the Bulls” festival be banned? [4609 Views]