Cooper’s Hawk and Widow Skimmer

Top Photo: Before you continue, see if you can identify the above hawk.

That’s correct, it’s a Cooper’s hawk in immature plumage. This hawk, along with another in the same plumage was flying from perch to perch in the woods next to the path, squeakily calling as it went. The two young hawks were recently fledged from a nearby nest.

One of the young Cooper’s hawks stares back at me.

I didn’t see an adult, nor do I know where the nest was. I did, however, see an adult in the same area on the 28th of March. This is a good indication that Cooper’s hawks have successfully nested locally.

Adult Cooper’s hawk (3.28.20).

Cooper’s hawks are one of three members of a family of hawks know as accipiters (Accipitridae). The smallest is the sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk is in the middle, and the northern goshawk, is the largest. Only Cooper’s hawks nest locally. Sharp-shinned and goshawks may be found in the state during the winter.

All three are essentially forest birds and all have relatively short wings and long tails which allows for greater manoeuvrability in their forest habitat.

Along the weedy edge of the pond I came across a male widow skimmer, easy to identify once you know what to look for. No other dragonfly in our area has the same wing pattern. Even the female, which lacks white in the wings, is unique in having the base of all four of its wings black. Females and young males do not have blue on their thorax or abdomen.

Male widow skimmer.

Skimmers are a large family of dragonflies (Libellulidae) which are conspicuous and familiar to most people. They’re common, most of them are showy in appearance (with reds, whites, blues, yellows and greens) most are fairly large, and one species or another (usually several) are present at nearly every pond, lake, or river. If you haven’t seen a skimmer, you haven’t been looking.

Widow skimmer from above.

I often see widow skimmers some distance from water.

So, keep at least one eye open when near, or away from, water during summer, you might be surprised at what you see.

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