“Do you walk in this park often?” Trish, a friend from church, asked as we encountered each other in Academy Hills Park on Mar. 9.
“Occasionally,” I replied. “Today I am trying to find the Cooper’s Hawk nest.”
“I watched it all season last year,” Trish told me. “Last year’s nest was in a tree on the north boundary of the park. It was destroyed somehow after nesting.”
“Since you walk your dog here every day, could you call me if you see it being re-built? I have seen one of the hawks in the top of the tallest evergreen in front of the apartment complex across from Smith’s, so I think they have returned.”
I finished scoping out the other birds in the park and headed back to me car. I could see one of the hawks perched in the top of the conifer again. It had not been there earlier.
Later, as I was driving south on Eubank, Trish pulled alongside me. I could tell she was excited and pulled onto a side street. I followed her.
“The two hawks were circling over a smallish cottonwood near where their nest was last year. It still has some leaves on it, so it will be easy to find.”
I relayed my success in finding the nest to Kristin who is conducting research comparing the defensiveness of nesting Cooper’s Hawks in city parks versus those in the natural bosque.
That is fantastic! I’ll bet that is right where I first saw them. They were both hanging around a tree at the north end, just off Eubank.”It started snowing in the night. I thought about the hawks about ready to begin their nesting. By mid-day the snow had stopped and it was starting to clear, so I made a trip to the park again. As soon as I got out of my car, I could see two hawks sitting in the adjacent tree. Unless they are sitting side by side, it is difficult to tell which one is the male and which one is the female. The size difference is striking in the photograph.
They didn’t seem to have made any more progress on the nest – probably because of the weather. They seemed to ignore me as I walked close, trying to zoom in on their eye color – both orange, the color of mature birds.I stopped by the nest on Fri. Mar. 19. The male was sitting in the adjacent tree. It was clear that they had made a lot of progress on the nest. I walked around the tree surveying the nest and capturing an updated image. All of a sudden, the female shot out of the nest, landed in a nearby tree and started pulling twigs off a limb to add to the nest. The male started ‘talking’ to her in soft conversational tones. And, then the female was back to the nest with the twigs. I was amused that the male seemed to be watching the female do the work; however, as I headed back to my car and turned around, he started helping her. There was a buzz of activity as they flew back and forth to and from the nest.
Yesterday, Mar. 25, I stopped by again on my way home from Jury Duty. I didn’t have my binoculars with me. At first I didn’t notice the male, since he had moved to another tree for his surveillance.
“Looking for a hawk?” a man and his mall dog asked as I completed my tour around the tree, trying to see if I could see the female incubating.
“It’s right up there,” I pointed. “I think that the female has started incubating. She will be sitting there for a little over a month,” I explained.
“Last year, the hawk was the talk of the park,” the man told me. “An enterprising young man even took photos and set up his photos on the grass beneath the nest tree. He was selling them.”
I was pleased that the neighborhood was involved and cared about the hawks.
I will provide progress reports every ten days or so throughout the nesting period.