Exactly 22 minutes ago a student sent this email around to the department:
I just looked out my office window and there is a big, raptor-looking bird on one of the trees next to botany pond. It’s in a big tree on the west side of the pond, between Erman and Culver. It’s about half way up and on the east side of the tree (facing Erman). It is just hanging out if anyone wants to see some biodiversity!
Of course I rushed downstairs. grabbing my camera. At first I couldn’t see anything, but then someone pointed to a blob on a branch (click all photos to enlarge):
Well, I posted this first as a peregrine falcon in my enthusiasm, but after looking it up it’s clearly not.
UPDATE: several readers and two ornithologists have identified this as a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). My colleague Steve Pruett-Jones adds this:
The bird is a Cooper’s hawk. Likely a female, but sex is a little hard to tell from a photograph, without a size reference. Females are 40-60% bigger than males in this species. The overall posture, the relative size, plus the shape of the tail indicates that the bird is NOT a sharp-shined hawk. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks look very similar except for size, shape of tail, etc.
It may be a kestrel, but I’ll let a reader identify it. At any rate, I’ve never gotten so close to one before. It was wary, but not overly nervous. And its eyes were red!
Such a magnificent animal. It flew to a tree, stayed for a while (I fear that I might have driven it away) and then winged off, presumably looking for food.
One swallow does not a summer make, but one hawk can make a day.