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Super Cooper(‘s Hawk)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2009 by Dawn

Oh, that Cooper’s Hawk.  He impressed me today.

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii

I last rehabbed him on Thursday of last week since I was unable to make it to the raptor center on Monday (my usual rehab day).  On Thursday, I saw a marked improvement from the last time I had worked with this bird (which was 10 days prior, I believe), and today I saw even more.  On Thursday, he was making his perch-to-perches (P-Ps) just fine as long as he kept himself aloft.  Once he overshot his perch and landed on the ground, however, it didn’t seem like he was able to regain the height he had after I launched him and he stayed on the perches.  Since I have not seen him gain height by himself yet, I figured that capability would come later, once his injured wing had a chance to become more flexible and strong.

Inside the flight cage.

Inside the flight cage.

Today he surprised me.  A half an hour or so into our rehab session, he began taking off from the ground and making his perch at the other end of the flight cage.  I got very excited, as I haven’t seen him demonstrate this ability so far.  I have hope for this bird.  I think he is going to wow us all with his continued progress.  He’s gained some weight during his time in the flight cage – he has gone from 10.5 oz upon arrival to 12 oz today, which means he is not a large bird.  In fact, here is a photo to illustrate just how not big he is, compared to other birds I’ve worked with in the past:

Cooper's hawk compared to my hand (which is markedly larger due to the gloves).

On a completely unrelated note, I wore my Vibram Five Fingers shoes to rehab today, and they are spectacular.  They are the next best thing to being barefoot, and my feet have been thanking me for wearing them.  I wore them while gardening on Saturday and my feet weren’t nearly as sore as I expected them to be. 

My fivegingers.

I started wondering recently about birds’ intelligence levels and the way they use their brains.  Of course, we all know that parrots and crows are extremely intelligent.  But what about other birds  – various species of hawks and other raptors (like owls) and song birds?  Does the derogatory phrase “bird brain” really MEAN something?  I am going to have to do some more research on this.  There are few websites out there that look reputable so I’m going to try to find some books on the subject.  I probably have one, but don’t realize it because I buy so darn many books, thanks to the used bookstore at the Iowa City Public Library.

In regards to the intelligence of Cooper’s Hawks in particular, I was unable to find any useful information in a simple Google search.  I did, however, notice several entries that used such words as “clever,” “sneaky,” and one blog that I found had this to say:

I am not sure if there have been formal studies on the intelligence of the Cooper’s Hawk, but my own observations support the theory that this species has above average I.Q. There is no question in my mind that the Cooper’s Hawk “hides” behind things – trees for sure but also man-made structures like garages and rooftops prior to launching into its attack flight. 

If anybody has thoughts on the topic of bird intelligence, particularly relating to raptors or songbirds, please feel free to chime in!