February 15: A Scouting Mission
On this crisp February morning, I was on my way to my car when suddenly I heard a familiar voice: “Kek-kek-kek-kek-kek-kek!” I turned immediately to search for the Coopers hawk. It was Henrietta, announcing herself to the world from the branches of her old familiar cypress tree. This is the earliest I have ever seen the hawks appear upon the scene of their nest. It must be a scouting mission! And the scout had a very unpleasant discovery.
The hawk nest was destroyed during the winter. The nest in which Henrietta and her mate, Rufous, raised two families – four fine young Coopers hawks – is gone! All that remains of the nest is a few sticks, no more than a dozen, as a reminder that a hawk fortress once stood in the live oak tree.
February 18: Bird Count Weekend
I have signed up as an observer on bird count weekend. Hopefully I will have something interesting to report, although my bird watching skills are pretty much limited to hawks. But, no sooner had I taken up my binoculars, than I heard the familiar “kek-kek-kek” of one of the Coopers hawks. This time it was Rufous, noticeably smaller than Henrietta. How funny it would be if the bird count people knew that, not only did I report a Coopers hawk in the Metroplex of Dallas/Fort Worth, but I also knew its sex… and its name! Actually, the professionals frown upon naming a wild creature. But Henrietta and Rufous are definitely not pets, and I believe it does them no more harm than calling them Mom and Dad.
I walked along the canal and observed quite a few grebes, strange ducks that dive better than they swim. I also saw dozens of sea gulls! And, of course, the usual great egrets and a solitary green heron.
March 6: Turf Wars
We have returned from our annual pilgrimage to Costa Rica, and I am anxious to see if the hawks have started rebuilding their nest. To my dismay, there was a great cacophony of quarreling birds, as several blue jays confronted the Coopers hawks. A standoff ensued in the live oak trees. I walked out to view the old nest site, and there was a blue jay, standing right in the fork of the tree that had held the nest! He screamed threats at Rufous and Henrietta. Things quieted down, and I saw no more of the hawks this day.
Continue to Chapter 2: Nest Building Begins
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