July 21: Missing the Young Cooper's Hawks
It is the time of year that fledgling Cooper's hawks are out of the nest, fluttering from limb to limb, and crying for their parents to feed them. I know the sound of the little hawks well! They continue to call to their parents for two or three weeks, until around the first of August. By that time, they have learned the rudiments of hunting, and are on their own.
Today, I set out to see if I could hear the little hawks calling. I walked all along the greenbelt near my home, and was met by only a disturbing quiet. For days, I have heard only cicadas, blue jays, and other song birds. A nest of cardinals nearby was proof to me that there are no Cooper's hawks in the area. On the canal today there were only herons: two green herons, a great egret, and two great blue herons.
I decided to take a favorite hike over to Campion Trail along Trinity River, about 1-1/2 miles from my home. The area has been developed as a nice park with a trail tracing over what once was Sam Houston's Trail. I have long thought that, if I was a Cooper's hawk, this would be the ideal place for a nest. Tall leafy trees, no motor vehicles, a feast of small birds, all the hallmarks of a comfy Cooper's hawk domain.
About 100 yards from the entrance to the park, I heard them. Peee-yuuuu peee-yuuu. Cooper's hawk fledglings, calling for food!! I walked up and down the wooded area, snapping random photos at the sounds I heard. Only brambles and the threat of West Nile virus kept me from pushing headlong into the woods. I even took one video that I will post here. If you watch the video with the sound turned all the way up, you can hear the little hawks calling, at the point where I stop panning to the left and move back toward the sound on the right. I do not know whether it was one little hawk calling multiple times, or more than one, but the calls are fairly close together, so it's likely there are more than one. There are three calls, then the call of another bird I could not identify.
Elated, I hurried home to play the video. I have looked and looked among the leaves for a little hawk, and cannot find one. But I can hear the unmistakeable baby hawk calls on the video!
July 28: Tragedy turns to Triumph!
Today I hiked to the Trinity River again. And there were the little Cooper's hawks again, in the same wooded area. I made a couple more movies in an attempt to spot them, but no such luck! The calls are recorded once again on the videos, however. As I was intently searching the edge of the woods, an adult Cooper's hawk flew out in pursuit of two small birds. The hawk was so close to me that he startled me when he flew, high above my head. He pursued the small birds all the way across the park and into the trees on the other side. One of the small birds was probably out of luck, as the Cooper's hawk barrelled into the trees after him. I did not see the hawk return. Knowing that Dad was on the hunt, the little fledglings cried even louder. Now I know that there are at least two young hawks, because I could hear them calling simultaneously.
Click here to see and hear the second fledglings video.
So what does this new nest mean? It is not likely that Rufous and Henrietta would leave their own territory and venture this far. Their season probably ended with no fledges for the year. But the distance is far enough and yet near enough for one of Rufous and Henrietta's offspring, now mature adults, to establish their own territory and raise a family. Perhaps the little hawks I heard are Slats' kids or Moreen's little ones! It is so exciting to think that Rufous and Henrietta may be grandparents! And in fact, I believe this to be the case.
No one will dissuade me from the belief that the year 2012 has a spectacularly successful ending! I am certain that the saga of Rufous and Henrietta lives on!
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