Cooper’s Hawk Takes Flight in Northern Utah

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Cooper's Hawk perched on a lichen covered boulderCooper’s Hawk perched on a lichen covered boulder – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I spent the morning in Box Elder County in northern Utah looking for birds to photograph, I was hoping to find a first of the year Swanson’s Hawk or Turkey Vulture or perhaps even find the Golden Eagle pair I found earlier this month. I didn’t see them but I did see Red-tailed Hawks, a few Rough-legged Hawks, one juvenile Bald Eagle, Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels and one Cooper’s Hawk.

Cooper’s Hawks are forest and woodland birds that have adapted well to urban and suburban areas and they are also found in desert areas of the southwest. The road I was on has smatterings of small trees next to it that attract smaller songbirds and the Cooper’s Hawk diet consists of those small birds.

Cooper's Hawk stretchingCooper’s Hawk stretching – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

When I first saw this Cooper’s Hawk it had taken flight from the east side of the road and landed in a tree that was snugged up close to a cliff face but was hidden from view, when the hawk took off from the tree it landed on a lichen covered boulder that was on a rocky outcrop on the west side of the road in beautiful light. I was able to take several images of the Cooper’s as it perched and stretched on the boulder.

Cooper's Hawk in flight in northern UtahCooper’s Hawk in flight in northern Utah – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The Cooper’s Hawk took flight without much warning at all and for a second I lost it while tracking the hawk but regained focus as it flew south past me. The background in this frame shows lichen covered rocks and some sagebrush.

Cooper's Hawk fly byCooper’s Hawk fly by – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The hawk continued flying south after the image above was taken and although I couldn’t relocate it I was happy to have been able to get these images of it in flight. It was a beautiful morning.

Life is good.



  1. Rick Remington March 17, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Outstanding images of this coopers hawk. I am always impressed with your flight shots. I have a nikon d 500 and struggle with flight shots that are clear and sharp like yours. Do you use matrix metering and the 25 point focus sensor? Any tips you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


    Rick Remington

  2. Utahbooklover March 13, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Incredible images of Cooper’s hawk – well done Mia!

  3. Pepe Forte March 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    It’s in the eyes. It’s always in the eyes….incredible shots Mia. Thanks.

  4. Elephant's Child March 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    How inconsiderate of it to launch without notifying you.
    Well captured though – and what a glorious sight.

  5. M. Bruce March 12, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    The fact that you got those great flight shots after it “took flight without much warning” is a testament of your uncommon skill – kudos to you!

  6. Jerry Ellison March 12, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Beautiful shots Mia…beautiful subject. Great sequence!

  7. Patty Chadwick March 12, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Boy! Mia! You sure caught some good ones!!! That guy looks very well fed…bad news for the liile birds!!! Wonderful detail…especially like the last two…and the lichen covered rocks…

  8. Liz Cormack March 12, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Fantastic in-flight photos!

  9. Bob mcpherson March 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Beautiful images miA.

  10. Esther March 12, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Wonderful shots especially in flight! It was a good morning for you.

  11. Steven Kessel March 12, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Great in-inflight images! Those are really hard to get with this species. Where we live is the Cooper’s Hawk capitol of the entire known universe but I’m forever missing the jump shots and in-flight images with these birds.

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