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Hawk puts on nature show in West End backyard

A Cooper
A Cooper's Hawk stands guard over a pigeon it had captured in the backyard of a West End home in New Westminster on Feb. 16.
— image credit: Heather MacKenzie

Heather MacKenzie was making her breakfast of eggs and toast in her Dublin Street home last Tuesday morning when she looked out her kitchen window and spotted a white bird on the ground in the corner of her yard.

It was still a bit dark out and MacKenzie couldn't quite make out what was sitting on the bird so she grabbed her camera. What the zoom lens revealed was a Cooper's Hawk munching away on his breakfast—a dead pigeon. For more than an hour it would look around, protective of its prey and taking bites out of its conquest.

Like many in her West End neighbourhood, and any other in the Lower Mainland for that matter, she'd seen raccoons, skunks and coyotes wandering around, but not a hawk.

"I was really quite surprised. I've never had anything like that before," said MacKenzie, who has seen hawks at a distance while out snapping photographs in the Fraser River delta area, but not up close in her backyard. "It was the equivalent of a real, big crow. It was a good-sized bird."

Since a neighbour used to keep homing pigeons, MacKenzie figures the bird the hawk killed was doing what came naturally, which was to return to where it was raised. MacKenzie was not upset about seeing the hawk eating another bird.

"This is nature, too. These animals have got to eat," said MacKenzie. "I figure it saw a meal and took advantage of it, and took it to a nice, quiet backyard."

When the hawk left, MacKenzie donned rubber gloves and cleaned up the area up with bleach, enthusiastic about what she had just witnessed.

"I'll probably never see her again."

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