Bestest Closest Cooper’s Hawk Encounter Ever

So at about 4 p.m. I look outside from the study and it’s snowing on the front yard ivy. Sunny, 72 degrees, and snowing. Not the frozen stuff. Feathers. The soft downy kind that almost defy gravity. I watch them as they drift and waft down to the ground.

It can only mean one thing: the peaceful drift of the feathers belies a Cooper’s hawk viciously tearing into a kill somewhere above in the camphor laurel tree. So I grab my camera and get out there. It takes a couple minutes of searching the boughs, but I find it. Then I find a vantage point about 20-feet straight away and got this shot of it surrounded by fluff with whatever was left of the unfortunate pigeon it caught behind it (click it for the bigger picture):

Then something really cool and rare happened: the bird didn’t leave. Typically Cooper’s hawks are terribly camera shy and book it when spotted. Since this one didn’t I moved down to the sidewalk where I could put myself between the sun and the raptor and I got this shot (click it for the bigger picture):

No, that’s not lipstick it’s wearing. That’s bloody pigeon bits. Even after that the hawk continued to stay put, long enough for me to get back up to the house, grab the spotting scope, set it back up where I got that first shot, and get this close-up (click it for the bigger picture):

I was about to move the scope down to the sidewalk to get a better lighted portrait,  when it picked up its dinner and left. Wow.