juvenile coopers hawk in the grass The Saga
of
Rufous and Henrietta Hawk

Chapter 4

On the Nest

April 4 thru 12

This was a busy week, as I prepared for a trip to SC for the Easter weekend. During the week, I observed continued nest-building in the morning hours. One afternoon I walked around under the cypress trees and was startled to discover several hawk feathers! Apparently the hawks live a confrontational life, right in our yard. One morning, I was watching a squirrel nibble at a cypress cone when suddenly Henrietta swooped down and almost had him. The squirrel leaped aside, ran around a tree, and resumed eating his breakfast, not too worried about having a close call. Jay observed Rufous challenging one of the mallards, but that was no contest either. Our neighbor, Peter (our favorite border collie Sprocketís owner), reported seeing a hawk on his fence, idling devouring a mockingbird. I suspect our hawks donít go hungry.

April 13

I have returned from SC, and am rewarded by seeing one of the hawks on the nest. I suspect itís Henrietta, although I have read that the male and female share the duty of incubating their eggs. While I watched, she got up on the edge of the nest and walked about, wary of any undue attention to her nest. There should be four or five eggs, blue-green in color. Around the second or third week of May, there should be snow-white babies in the nest.

Henrietta on the Nest
Henrietta on the Nest

The next morning, I saw Rufous in the cypress tree. Suddenly Henrietta swooped down to join him. She pranced around, strutting her stuff, and spreading her wings. Iím not sure whether she was just giving herself a break or maybe she came to give Rufous "what for" so he would get busy with his hunting and bring her lunch.

During the week, there were spring storms with high winds up to 40 mph. I thought about our brave little hawk mother and was concerned. The winds tossed the nest about, but Henrietta clung tightly to cover her little treasures.

April 14 thru 26

Things have really gotten quiet in the surrounds of the hawk nest. The cypress tree has leafed out, so it would be hard to spot the hawks, but I believe they purposely avoid activity so close to the nest. One of the hawks can always be seen on the nest Ė either the tip of a head or a tail hanging over. I speculate that the sleek head is Rufous, and the awkward tail is Henrietta.

Numerous times, during the afternoon, I have spotted hawks flying over Valley Ranch. Once a hawk flew low over me so I could see the golden red of his underside and the light feathers of his wings, illuminated by the sun. Such a beautiful creature had to be Rufous. Yes, Rufous has flown far afield searching for food for himself and Henrietta. And soon there will be more mouths to feed.

Continue to Chapter 5: Storms and Aggressors

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