There was a mid-size hawk feeding on a hapless gray-feathered meal next to the parking lot of The Free Press when I arrived at work this morning. It was perched in the limb of a tree, then hopped to another limb, keeping one eye on Wendell and me, and plucking gray feathers with determination.

It was a stocky, dark bird with wide black and white horizontal stripes on the tail and dark streaks on a light chest.

Soon, a small crowd gathered. The hawk took notice, but kept at it, finishing the plucking, then bracing its feet against the branch to rip out the meat. The meal was over in ten minutes and the hawk pushed off, flying in the direction of Dunkin' Donuts, its black-and-white tail spread wide.

There was some consternation over what it was, but I landed on an immature Cooper's Hawk, though I am still convinced it looked like an immature female Broad Wing Hawk, as improbable as that sounds. They are summer residents and are now somewhere south of Key West. Still, all fluffed up against the cold, it probably looked bigger than it was. Cooper's Hawks certainly prowl neighborhoods, hunting birds with agility by dashing through trees so fast they are known to break bones in their chests from collisions. Female birds are bigger, taking medium-size birds for dinner, and leaving the scrawnier ones for the males.

Christine Parrish wanted to consult with the master birders from the Maine Master Naturalist Program and with Don Reimer, but the deadline couldn't wait.