Predator vs. Prey: Cooper's Hawk vs. White-Throated Sparrrow

By | April 1, 2014
From Xplor: April/May 2014

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Fast and Furious

The agile Cooper’s hawk is built for speed. This bird-hunter’s short, powerful wings and long, rudderlike tail make it a nimble flier in thick woods and along hedgerows.

Brutal Bonus Points

With deadly talons splayed wide, the hawk hits hard. The impact collapses it legs, which creates a vice-like grip for piercing and holding its prey.

Shock and Awe

Cooper’s hawks dive bomb through forest openings to surprise prey. Sometimes, these clever hawks fly fast from behind trees to sneak attack their next snack.

Warning Call Chorus

White-throated sparrows warn their flockmates of a possible attack with a loud Chip! Chip! Other sparrows join the chorus as they all head for cover.

Playing it Safe

These little sparrows play a good defense by hunkering down in thickets and avoiding open areas where hawks may be on the prowl.

and the winner is…

Today, the Cooper’s hawk’s surprise attack was successful. But it’s always a throw of nature’s dice — the Cooper’s hawk captures its prey in only about one out of 10 tries.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White