An Unlikely Target- Cooper’s Hawks -VS- kingfishers

A few mornings ago I was birding my normal route along Somerset Lake in Somerset County, PA. Raptors were plentiful and I had a hard time counting and watching the shorebirds in front of me as the accipiters and a Peregrine Falcon kept stirring up the flocks. The Belted Kingfishers were all upset and vocalizing like mad, which I often hear when raptors are around. Then I heard one Kingfisher become extremely vocal. I looked to see a Cooper’s Hawk hot on its tail! The Coop pursued the kingfisher out over open water, where the Kingfisher was able to out maneuver it and get away, flying safely to the shore. I thought that it was strange to see an accipiter in pursuit of a a bird out over open water. On the coast I have seen kingfishers targeted by Peregrines, but not very often. “Very cool,” I thought as I moved on to my next stop.

Cooper’s Hawk passing on a Belted Kingfisher

At my next stop, the south boat launch, I was looking at a flock of warblers and again heard several kingfishers very upset and vocal. I looked over to see not one, but two being chased by Coopers Hawks! One narrowly escaped by plunging into the water, the Cooper’s Hawk actually tried to grab it out of the water and was not able to get a hold of it!

Cooper's Hawk almost grabs a Belted Kingfisher which dove into the water to escape

Cooper’s Hawk almost grabs a Belted Kingfisher which dove into the water to escape

About fifteen minutes later I heard commotion again. A big female Cooper’s Hawk was right on another kingfisher’s tail, This time the kingfisher was not as lucky. Moments after I shot the photo below, the Cooper’s Hawk grabbed the kingfisher momentarily, but then its luck shifted and the kingfisher somehow managed to get away. All in all I saw six different kingfishers being chased over open water. As far as the score went- Belted Kingfishers 6, Cooper’s Hawks Ø.

Cooper's Hawk Hot on the tail of another Belted Kingfisher

Cooper’s Hawk Hot on the tail of another Belted Kingfisher