Coopers Hawk Cooling His Heels

Cooper’s hawk standing in running water, Pittsburgh, 18 June 2024 (photo by Alan Juffs)

21 June 2024

On Tuesday afternoon when it was 94°F, a Cooper’s hawk stepped into a stream of running water on a street in Squirrel Hill. When blue jays and robins raised the alarm, “Hawk! Hawk!” Alan Juffs took these pictures.

Birds are feeling the heat this week because they wear down coats all year long, but special circulation in their legs makes chilling their feet an excellent way to cool off. The National Zoo explains:

Wading birds, such as flamingos and ibises {and this Cooper’s hawk}, have long, thin, featherless legs that make it easy to release heat from their bodies. When the blood circulates up and down their legs, heat dissipates through their skin. This natural method of thermoregulation gets a boost when the birds’ feet are submerged in cool water.

National Zoo: How Do Birds Handle the Heat? July 28, 2023

For a quick minute the Coopers hawk cooled his heels.

Cooper’s hawk cooling his feet, Pittsburgh, 18 June 2024 (photo by Alan Juffs)

His respite was cut short when the robins and jays drove him away.

Fortunately today is the last full day of Pittsburgh’s Excessive Heat Warning. The warning ends tomorrow, Saturday 22 June, at 8:00pm. Sunday will be better. Whew!

(credits are in the captions)

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