It looks like a Cooper's Hawk. I wrote an earlier blog about the bird at http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2009/02/bird-of-week-cooperss-hawk.html.
I'm not sure where you live, but the most common neighborhood hawks in mid-Michigan are the Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks. They are usually woodland hunters, and with their habitat shrinking more sitings have been reported in the suburbs. It is also the beginning of migration. February and March are good times to see a lot of birds stopping over in our yards on the way to their final nesting grounds.
Cooper's hawks are predators primarily of birds and small mammals. Small means under a pound, so you don't have to worry about your dog unless it fits in a teacup.
When hunting, Cooper's hawks usually perch during the day and watch for prey. They wait until their prey is unaware of their presence, then quickly swoop down and seize it. Mourning Doves, starlings, chipmunks, and small squirrels are common prey for Cooper's hawks. Their short, rounded wings make them very maneuverable flyers in dense, forests and even follow prey up evergreens. These hawks also pursue prey on the ground, half running and half flying.
Some steps to take if you have hawks in your yard:
- First and foremost, federal and state laws prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks and owls. Raptors attracted to bird feeding stations are a problem only when they perch nearby all day. The birds return as soon as the Hawk flies away. So enjoy a close-up look at these magnificent birds while they are in your yard.
- If you feed birds, place your feeders where there is ample natural protection. Evergreen shrubs and trees can provide an easy escape for the birds.
- Keep in mind hawks in the neighborhood play an important role in controlling bird and rodent populations and usually ignore cats, dogs, and people.
- Ultimately, the only thing you can do when a hawk comes to dinner is wait it out. Most hawks that visit only do so for two or three weeks and then they are off again to different territory.