Ever seen a Mourning Dove necropsy? Here is your chance.

Feederwatch again this weekend which means we start the day with warming cups of tea while sitting in the lounge window fully binoculared and scanning the garden feeders. Things were pretty quiet, rather more so than usual – and the reason? A large Cooper’s Hawk sitting in one of the trees along the edge of our neighbour’s garden and clearly “lurking with intent”.

It was there for a good two hours, quite unphased by cameras and scopes trained on it and apart from constantly looking around it was really not interested in moving so we assumed it was well fed and digesting. Then … whoooosh and the world is short one more Mourning Dove. No lack of those around here.

The hawk commenced elevenses by ripping off the Dove’s head and then calmly eviscerated it until there was just a pile of feathers on the snow and a very happy raptor.

A lovely bird … here is a small gallery of images (makes a change from all those Snowy Owl pictures we are enjoying at the moment). Below the gallery you will find a short video of the Dove necropsy in action.

A short note on identification – to quote from those excellent people at Cornell  “Sharp-shinned (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s (Accipiter cooperii) hawks commonly prey on feeder birds, and they are frequently reported by FeederWatchers. Despite their common occurrence, these hawks present a significant identification problem for many beginning and intermediate (and even more advanced!) birders. There is great variation in plumage and in size for these two species. Therefore, perhaps more than any other similar-looking birds, no single field mark is likely to distinguish one species from the other. Instead, the careful observer must use a combination of field marks and draw from the overall “gestalt” of the hawk for proper identification”. = large bird as big, or bigger, than a Crow so probably a female, well defined dark cap with pale neck, rounded tail tip with longer middle feathers and white tip = Cooper’s Hawk


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Click any thumbnail below to open up a slideshow

*For the record and for those who ask (and some of you do), these images were taken with either a Canon 7D camera and 100-400mm EF-L series lens (ISO set at 200) or else they were digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX/STX 65 mm spotting scope with 25-60x zoom eyepiece and a Sony Nex-7 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera body mounted with a Swarovski TLS/APO digiscoping adapter

Now for the short video …