Meet the Coopers

Cooper’s hawks soar above a neighborhood in Seattle. More than 40 nesting pairs live in the city.

In this year of the coronavirus, of sheltering in place and social distancing, our neighborhood welcomed a new family to the block.

The Coopers arrived quietly in early spring from parts unknown. The industrious young couple quickly built a treetop residence across the street. They kept their distance, as required by coronavirus protocols, but occasionally procured a fresh meal at a neighbor’s outdoor feeder.

The family and neighborhood dynamics changed when the Coopers became the proud parents of quadruplets. They were a noisy and demanding foursome! Mrs. Cooper remained at home with the young ones while Mr. Cooper provided for the entire family.

Many neighborhood dwellers took great pains to avoid catching Mr. Cooper’s attention. Local songbirds went from performing boisterous morning symphonies to whispering soft tunes. Squirrels and other small critters kept antics to a minimum.

Bipedal neighbors, on the other hand, took great interest in the Cooper family. We listened for the youngsters calling for their parents. Many of us kept binoculars handy in hopes of catching sight of Mr. Cooper hunting or getting a peek at the nestlings. Last week was especially exciting when the chicks became fledglings and took flight around the neighborhood.

Cooper’s hawk scans the block for prey.

The Cooper family in my Seattle neighborhood are Cooper’s hawks. According to the Urban Raptor Conservancy, in 2012 there were over 20 breeding pairs of this hawk in Seattle. Today that number has increased to more than 40. This crow-sized hawk used to be relatively rare in the urban environment, but their presence has increased in Seattle and other cities across our nation.

My neighbors and I have welcomed the arrival of Cooper’s hawks to our block. We hope they plan to stay for awhile.

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