I saw this out my office window today. Very interesting. I believe it is an immature Cooper’s Hawk. It seemed to have the sturdy legs, more barrel-shaped body, narrower chest striping and larger head of the Cooper’s (vs. the Sharp-shinned Hawk). These are all subjective comparisons and without having a Sharp-shinned nearby to look at, it’s hard for a novice like me to be certain of the ID. I’m going to go with Cooper’s though.
It had nabbed one of the dark-eyed juncos for a meal. I felt very honored to have a front-row seat to watch the event. It was incredible how methodical the whole process was. First, the hawk plucked all the feathers and removed the wings. He or she might have grabbed a small morsel during this process. But mostly, it was prep work.
Then, the hawk got to the meat of the matter. Literally. I could see the naked little body of the defeathered junco for a second or two, but that was about it. The hawk used the sharp tip of the beak to penetrate the skin, rip large strips of flesh out and then gobbled them down. A few bites, everything eaten, and then the bird took off too quickly for me to see the silhouette against the sky. I had read that looking at the silhouette would make it easier to check the head size compared to the body. I wanted to see that to try to confirm the ID. I just didn’t get that chance.
I walked outside under the branch later that day. Not so much as a drop of blood in the snow. Most of the feathers had blown away. I did find one. Looked like perhaps a wing or tail feather. Most of the feathers on the little juncos are just fluff. They didn’t stick around long in the wind we had.