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  1. Almost every morning for two weeks, a local Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) and I have arrived at the LSU Parade Grounds at the same time: 6:20am.

    Cooper’s hawks start hunting before sun-up (I’ve tracked them with telemetry in pitch dark, hunting by 5am), and they generally make a kill in short order. Unless rearing chicks, they’ll spend the rest of the day roosting or soaring, unless they need to hunt again in the evening.

    They are masters of the surprise attack. The one I watch each morning hits the same 4 live oaks, each of them packed full of roosting mourning doves. She comes in low (between 5-15 feet off the ground) and zips up beneath the canopy to attack from below. Cooper’s hawks are counter-shaded like orcas, and this is why.

    She has yet to catch one while I watch, but I’ve seen dozens of consecutive attempts as she blasts from branch to branch, eventually scattering them all before zipping over to the next tree. I see her only in brief sprints, turning into her pursuits at incredible speed and pulling out of them just as fast. That she ever misses is amazing, but like all predators, Cooper’s hawks miss most of the time.

    Anyway, there are a LOT of mourning doves to chase here. 🙂

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