If you’ve wandered anywhere near Prospect Park Lake this winter, you may have spotted a rare site: a Cooper’s Hawk.
The hawks – known affectionately to bird watchers as the “Artful Dodgers" for their ability to swiftly tear through trees and shrubs in their pursuit of other birds for prey – are an infrequent winter visitor to New York City and a Species of Special Concern in New York State.
“About the coolest thing is watching this bird fly though woods at breakneck, at highly maneuverable speeds chasing prey,” said Peter Dorsch, a Landscape Management Office Field Technician for the Prospect Park Alliance and member of the Brooklyn Bird Club. Dorsch said he has spotted the bird a number of times this season.
Park bird lovers Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman said they first spotted the bird on Feb. 13, and have spotted the bird nearly every day since.
“Seeing that hawk was amazing,” said Bahlman. “We’re used to just seeing the Red-tailed Hawks. And it likes the park. That’s what we think is great.”
“It’s so beautiful,” added Titze.
For those looking to catch a glimpse of this majestic, reddish-brown bird, it’s usually the size of a crow or slightly larger. Dorsh points out that it is often confused with its smaller cousin, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, but can be identified by its long, round tail, which often features brown or black bands.
The Cooper’s Hawk generally prefers deep woods, but lately it has been sited often near the southern side of Prospect Park Lake.
Of course, amateur bird lovers can always hit up Prospect Park’s weekly Saturday bird watching tours for help identifying the Artful Dodgers.
The Cooper’s Hawk will soon begin its spring migration upstate, so catch it while you can.