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Cooper’s Hawks

July 30, 2013

We’ve spotted a hawk occasionally hanging out near the bird feeders.  It is usually tucked well into the oak tree outside our dining area, just above the feeders. At best, I would catch a glimpse of a banded tail:  Cooper’s hawk or sharp-shinned hawk?  I could never see enough body to see size or other markings.  I know we have red-shouldered hawks – they make a lot of noise declaring their territories in the spring, But, a red-shouldered hawk has a shorter tail, with different banding on the tail.

As it sometimes happens, our (indoor) cats all point in the same direction, or start racing between windows for a better look: a sure sign something unusual is going on outside.  Early one morning last week, the cat behavior told me that there was something on the deck.  I had heard some noise, and I quietly got up, thinking that we had a deer up on the deck again. I peered between the open bathroom door and the door frame to find two fledgling Cooper’s hawks perched on the deck railing.

There was still more noise, and as I peered around the other bathroom window, I saw a third fledgling on the corner of the deck railing.  By now, they are getting agitated because they can see the cats and me moving around.  They flap off of the deck, following an adult Cooper’s hawk (mama?), straight into the trees above our bird feeders.  The adult has brought them right into a target-rich environment, as Cooper’s hawks have long tails and short wings that makes them agile in pursuing smaller birds through trees and bushes.

But, these are gangly teenagers, and they flap a lot and land clumsily in the tree branches, sitting in full view and scaring away all the smaller birds. There was no poaching on our bird feeders by this gang that day.

But, it seems that they can still count on mama for a meal: a few mornings later, I heard some little plaintive squawking on the deck, and found one of the fledglings still looking for a handout.


From → Birds

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