Cooper’s Hawk With Prey Plus An Unintentional Blur Photo

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Cooper's Hawk with prey in Salt Lake CountyCooper’s Hawk with prey in Salt Lake County – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/200, ISO 2500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It was a bitter cold January morning in 2016 when I photographed this Cooper’s Hawk on prey that I found not far from where I live. I spotted the hawk on the ground well before the sun had risen over the mountains as I was heading to Antelope Island SP and Farmington Bay to photograph birds and finding this one close to home was a great way to start the day. The thing was that in the low light I had to bump my ISO up high but I also knew that the Nikon D810 handled high ISO’s well and it did. I would have liked better light on the hawk but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to photograph the hawk on prey.

The Cooper’s Hawk tore pieces of the dove apart to eat as feathers flew in the pre-dawn light. My keeper rate was low and a large number of the images I took of the hawk were unusable but it was fun to observe this hawk consuming its prey. Some people may be squeamish about that but to me it is only a small part of this hawk’s behavior and another interesting part of nature. Hawk’s do have to eat after all.

Cooper's Hawk blurCooper’s Hawk blur – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/125, ISO 2500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

My shutter speed was pretty low as I photographed the Cooper’s Hawk so my best images were taken when the hawk wasn’t moving much but as it ate there were times the bird would shake its head and I’d fire away because you just never know when you might catch something interesting. This unintentional blur photo of the Cooper’s Hawk appealed to me because of the way the hawk twisted its head. I know that not everyone likes blur photos but I liked this one and wanted to share it today. That spinning hawk’s head just makes me laugh out loud.

I see Cooper’s Hawks near home on a regular basis but usually they aren’t very cooperative and fly away immediately, I’m glad this one was hungry that winter morning so I could photograph it close to home.

Life is good.



  1. Laura Ganz April 12, 2018 at 9:02 am

    These are really great shots, Mia.

  2. Pepe Forte April 8, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Sweet shots Mia. I am always fond of your hawk photos but got particular enjoyment out of the blur pic. Reminded me of the first time my granddaughter tasted lima beans. Never saw a kid spit something out so fast in my life. Clearly the hawk was having a better go at it. Thanks for the laugh.

  3. Elephants Child April 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Love the ‘exorcist’ photo.
    And yes, they need to eat and aren’t anything like as wasteful as our own species.

  4. Laura Culley April 8, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Oh, as for prey, just how is it different from our chicken dinner, or hamburger? That bird put its life on the line to catch that, which gives it a whole ‘nother meaning, especially when you compare it to our treatment of our captive food source(s).

  5. Laura Culley April 8, 2018 at 11:56 am

    LOL Patty…would it make you feel any better that I’m right there with you on the Cooper’s/Sharpies? Even if they’re side-by-side, from a distance, yeah, all those subtle differentiations are impossible. It’s slightly easier if it’s a falconry bird 😉
    Speaking of falconry Cooper’s hawks, the one I held for a couple of brief flights was stunning. The only way I can describe its head feathers is that there was a quality of gray that was beyond description! So very lovely. That said, while I admire the sheer beauty of the accipiters, I simply cannot think fast enough to be a good falconer with one. Their sight-to-action ratio is way faster than I can process with this paltry little human brain! But they are magical!

  6. April Olson April 8, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Fun photos. I have one that lives in my back yard at my feeders. It has almost annihilated the Eurasian dove population. We have to be careful not to go out with our parrot when it is about, our parrot is not flighted but the hawk could take it off our bodies in a flash.

  7. Marty K April 8, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Very cool! I really enjoy watching animals eating. I feel like it’s such a great opportunity to gain a little insight. To me, feeding is at once both powerful and vulnerable, which makes it that much more interesting.

  8. Patty Chadwick April 8, 2018 at 8:05 am

    You earn a boatload of brownie points from me for identifying a Coopers from a Sharp-shinned hawk…unless they’re sitting side by side, I have a terrible time telling the two apart…since they are never side by side, I’m clueless…size, thickness of legs, shape of tail be damned!!!!

  9. Bob mcpherson April 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Nice photos, Mia.

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