Backyard birds–Cooper’s hawk

I don’t mind being roused from my slumber in the mornings.

Just as long as the culprit isn’t a leaf blower or my next door neighbor’s outboard motor.

On most summer mornings, I can’t sleep past 6:30 am anyway.

My bedroom door which opens to the backyard is always open to let in the cool night air.

Cooper's Hawk--this fine specimen along with 3 others have been waking me up each morning. They must have a nest nearbly.

I lost the coin toss and ended up on the side of the bed which is directly in front of that door.


Even if I ignore the bright beams of sunlight, the heat will do me in eventually.

The past three mornings, I’ve been hearing a strange high pitch call from my yard.

Finally this morning, I grabbed my Canon 40D and my longest lens to investigate.

Before heading outdoors, I set my camera to shoot RAW and jpeg, guess the exposure: ISO 400, 1/500 sec at f2.8.

Shooting on automatic is usually good but if you can help it, presetting your exposure will allow you to work much faster. All you need to do is get in position and focus. I crept up to this Cooper's hawk and fired off a few frames but it didn't like the sound of my shutter. My kitten Shiva didn't help either. Right before this, she charged and the hawk was gone in an instant.

Here’s a tip: when you know your quarry is going to be camera-shy and you’ll only get a few chances, you want to get your exposure close.

I can usually tell what the exposure will be for most situations because of years of exposing the same film day-in and day-out.

I set my camera to record RAW as well because I know I might not be able to get close.

Having the full megapixel image will allow me to crop in some more and I’ll still have plenty of resolution left.

This Cooper's hawk after being spooked by the sound of my camera and my kitten dashed a few inches across my chain link fence before flying off.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll have my audio recorder ready and I plan to grab a sound byte from these Cooper’s hawk.

I should also keep my 1-year-old cats Shiva & Tempe indoors.

If I had deep pockets, what might I consider getting?

  • a longer lens–a no brainer really
  • some sort of a portable blind that hunters use
  • a blimp. This is what most still photographers use on Hollywood sets to muffle the sound of their shutters and motordrives
This is the last image I made of this Cooper's Hawk. She's just about to get airborne. I included this picture only to show what a darker tone background makes.

Peter Phun Photography

Promote Your Page Too