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Critters of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by Richmond SPCA.




For those concerned about the hawk standing on one leg. It’s not injured. Birds will often stand on one foot to minimize heat loss. Some birds with fleshy feet, such as doves, have relatively short legs and can hunker down so their warm belly is pressed against their feet while perched, but accipiters, such as this young Cooper’s Hawk, have longer legs that make this far more difficult.

Where Spotted: Pony Pasture
Common Name: Cooper’s Hawk (juvenile)
Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii

Length: 14.6-15.3 in (37-39 cm)
Weight: 7.8-14.5 oz (220-410 g)
Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in (62-90 cm)
Length: 16.5-17.7 in (42-45 cm)
Weight: 11.6-24.0 oz (330-680 g)
Wingspan: 29.5-35.4 in (75-90 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone.
  • A Cooper’s Hawk captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. Falcons tend to kill their prey by biting it, but Cooper’s Hawks hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown their prey, holding a bird underwater until it stopped moving.
  • Once thought averse to towns and cities, Cooper’s Hawks are now fairly common urban and suburban birds. Some studies show their numbers are actually higher in towns than in their natural habitat, forests. Cities provide plenty of Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove prey. Though one study in Arizona found a downside to the high-dove diet: Cooper’s Hawk nestlings suffered from a parasitic disease they acquired from eating dove meat.
  • Life is tricky for male Cooper’s Hawks. As in most hawks, males are significantly smaller than their mates. The danger is that female Cooper’s Hawks specialize in eating medium-sized birds. Males tend to be submissive to females and to listen out for reassuring call notes the females make when they’re willing to be approached. Males build the nest, then provide nearly all the food to females and young over the next 90 days before the young fledge.
  • The oldest recorded Cooper’s Hawk was a male and at least 20 years, 4 months old. He had been banded in California in 1986, and was found in Washington in 2006.

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Eva at Richmond SPCA

Hello friends, my name is Eva and I’m here to find a family of my very own. I haven’t always known the comfort of a home and I think the world is a pretty scary place at times. I need someone special like you to show me plenty of patience and kindness to help me overcome my fears and gain confidence. If you think that you can show me the devotion I deserve, then won’t you please be my hero and ask about adopting me today?

Age: 3 years, 1 month
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Black / White
Size: M (dog size guide)
ID: 49374551

Adopt Eva at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.