Amazing Cooper’s Hawks Rule South Wilson Avenue

cooper's hawks rule South Wison Avenue

UPDATE: I wondered what the Cooper’s Hawks would do when all the smaller birds and rodents were gone, and now we know. Rather unceremoniously, the hawks left. Seemingly, every single one. It was literally like over night. Maybe this is that circle of life.

With the departure of the hawks, the other birds are quickly back, demanding triple food. A few squirrels are around, no longer “low crawling” in fear. Who knows if and when they will return?

Original Post: We knew there had to be a predator around our house, and now we know it is a family of Cooper’s Hawks. We’ve become acquainted with a brash new kettle of these stealthy aggressive birds of prey. Starting this spring, they took over the four, five, and six hundred blocks of South Wilson Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The new ruling order was confirmed for us early on Sunday morning, 7/10/22. I stepped into our front yard around 6AM to get the Detroit Free Press. A mottled gray bird glided out of a tree over and across the street. It was one of those hawks. And with two firm down beats, it went into a northerly trajectory up Wilson, in a bold straight line, just under the canopy. Silently gone.

Paula joined me on the back deck where we usually have coffee. Today we decided to sit in front where we could see the wood lined street. In the breaking new day, we watched from our porch, as Cooper’s Hawks methodically went up and down both sides of the street. This was totally unexpected and breathtaking.

Three or maybe four of the healthy birds were surreptitiously crisscrossing from porch roofs to trees to car tops. They patrolled every address on the 500 block. A pair of nervous black squirrels was their main target.

One or two hawks would take strategic perches to observe the squirrels, as another one or two hawks were trying to actually grab a squirrel. As the squirrels were distracted, a hawk would take one or two wing beats and zoom in from the side. Almost a triangulation. They had squirrels trapped under cars at times. All this was before 6:30AM.

Cooper’s Hawks – A New South Wilson Reality

Cooper’s Hawks are more common than you might realize. Other names for the Cooper’s Hawk include: big blue darter, chicken hawk, flying cross, hen hawk, quail hawk, striker, and swift hawk. Wikipedia provides a good thorough description of these famously agile, relatively small hawks. Check out the recording of their voice. Sometimes lately the hawk’s screech is the dominant bird call.

Early this spring, just before the trees started to leaf out, we saw nest building start in the upper reaches of the canopy of the Veterans Park. There in the tall middle of the small park, on the east side of the 600 block of south Wilson, we watched the medium sized birds build and move in. We weren’t really sure what they were or the significance.

We’ve had a very active feeder off of our back deck for years. As we watched it one morning, all the birds suddenly left. Then, for a fleeting moment, a Cooper’s Hawk landed on a fence next to us. It seemed like brief eye contact before it quickly departed. Still, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance.

The reality of a strong Cooper’s Hawk presence took us by surprise. We went from filling the bird feeder every day, to just freshening it every other week.

Cooper's Hawks are thriving on South Wilson Avenue

A Cooper’s Hawk at ease in a yard in the 400 block of South Wilson, Royal Oak, Michigan.

Rodents are down, but so are the smaller song birds.