The Coopers: Part 1

On May 14th, I followed some Chipping Sparrows and Clay-coloured Sparrows into the woods of Emily Murphy Park. When I lost track of them, I continued on the trail, scanning the surrounding trees and shrubs for other feathered creatures. Spring was still springing, and the tiny, new, wrinkled, light-green leaves had yet to become hiding places for the forest birds. So it was easy to spot a Cooper’s Hawk nest in the four-pronged fork of a large birch tree.

On May 26th, the leaves had gotten much bigger.

On June 4th, I was hoping for chicks, but Mrs. Cooper was still sitting patiently on her eggs.

On June 27th, Mrs. Cooper was standing in her nest. Different! The small tree branches and their leaves were dancing wildly in the wind, so in each photo I took, the leaves were in different places. A few photos were just green blurs.

There seems to be a little white down in the nest.

Oh! There seems to be a lot of white down in the nest. I would have to wait until another day to see little dark-grey eyes.

Cooper’s hawks lay 1 to 7 eggs, with 3 to 5 being typical, and eggs are usually laid at 2 day intervals. Incubation starts when the third egg is laid and lasts 30-36 days. Only the female develops an incubation patch. She sits on the eggs all night and most of the day. During the day, the male will incubate 2 or 3 times, for about 10-25 minutes, while the female uses a nearby perch to consume prey brought by the male. The first three laid eggs hatch at about the same time, while later eggs hatch asynchronously, at about the same intervals as laying. [1]

[1] Curtis, Odette E., R. N. Rosenfield and J. Bielefeldt.(2006).Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/coohaw

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17 Comments

  1. I always feel privileged when I gain a glimpse into an occupied nest. How extra special that you were able to monitor it over time. I look forward to part 2.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Tanja :-). Sorry I took so long to respond. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos and related to the sweet and uncommon privilege of catching a glimpse of an active nest. I suspect part 2 will appear in the next few weeks!

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      1. I look forward to it!
        Best,
        Tanja

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  2. How wonderful that you spied her and at nesting time too! I’m looking forward to part 2 and chicks!

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    1. Thanks for enjoying this hawk nest post, Deborah! 🙂 Sorry for spacing out on my blog for oh-so-long! Maybe part 2 will appear before the end of the year.

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      1. Hope so! I know how life gets in the way of blogging and reading them!

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        1. I feel like I could find 3 or 4 hours a week if could just organize my time in a certain way. We’ll see! 🙂

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  3. So exciting! We have a cooper’s hawk hanging out in our neighborhood which I find thrilling but I keep a close eye on my puppy!

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    1. So sorry for my super-late reply, Melissa. Do Cooper’s hawks attack small dogs sometimes? I usually see them with squirrels or sparrow-sized birds in their talons. A small dog seems so big! Is this your puppy’s first winter? Hope you are both doing well. 🙂

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      1. Pete has topped out around 8 lbs, very small for a westie. Coopers could easily have taken him when he was younger. We also have redtails in the neighborhood, and they definitely could. In fact, I’m working right now on a painting of one who thought about it and only at the last moment noticed me standing there with a leash attached to his intended lunch! Boy, was he indignant!

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        1. Oh, he’s quite little! 1 lb smaller than my cat. Sounds like he has a few potential predators in your neighbourhood. That red tail encounter sounds intense. Not a place to let your dog wander while you type text messages! Cool idea for a painting. Hope it pops up on your website some day. 😊

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          1. Yes, soon I hope. My son and his friend moved all of the stuff from the gallery to my home studio on Saturday, and now I’ve got some work to do setting it all to rights and digging out my easel.
            I’ll take a video of my little micro-westie wearing his coat, and post it 🙂

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      2. No worries on the late reply! How is school going? I don’t get the chance to read much either these days. Yes, this is Pete’s first winter and so far he is taking it in stride. I bought him a little red and black plaid coat and he wears it gleefully, tail in air. I must get a picture and post it. Thank you, and you as well!

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        1. Unfortunately, school didn’t work out. They gave priority to applications from students without a Bachelor’s degree regardless of grades. And I haven’t come up with a Plan B yet. But hopefully I’ll come up with something good soon 😊.

          Pete’s winter coat sounds adorable. I hope you do post photos!!!

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          1. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that. They are missing a really good person by excluding you. It infuriates me to see the misguided direction schools are taking these days.

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  4. That’s very cool – lucky you for discovering the nest!

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  5. […] was pretty excited about seeing white fluff in the nest on June 27th, so I visited again two days later with hopes of glimpsing wee beaks and eyes. My photo adventure […]

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