I 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 started at 12:41 PM and my first photo was not promising. White fluff???
I watched for two minutes, but no wee hawks appeared. Another cute creature caught my attention though. A nearby yellow warbler had a beak full of little green caterpillars. Clearly, he had wee ones too.
Two minutes later, I checked on the hawks’ nest again. Yippee!
Alas, I tried and tried but I couldn’t get my camera to focus on the birds (I’ve since figured out how to use manual focus, which is handy for creatures that don’t move for a while and are behind lots of little branches). When hawk-focus finally happened, the little white head was gone and 10 more in-focus minutes yielded no little black eyes.
Luckily, Mr. Yellow was still in the neighbourhood and he let me follow him around for a while.
What is he saying?
“Sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet.” Or “ti-ti-ti tu-tu-tu.”
As I walked down the trail away from the nest, an adult Cooper’s Hawk flew into the area. I looked into the forest, hoping to find its perch. Papa Cooper! And he had a snack under one foot.
The upper parts of Papa’s back and wing feathers were a different colour than Mama’s – dark grey-blue instead of brown. According to Birds of North America, this is a usual difference between males and females. Also, Papa had a redder eye than Mama. Cooper’s Hawk eyes change colours as they age, from yellow in immature birds to orange in young adults. Orange eyes get redder and redder until 5 years of age, and on average, males have redder eyes than females of the same age. 
It was now 1:08 PM, 12 minutes since I walked away from the nest, and I was curious to see if dad would deliver the snack to his family. So I headed back to the nest. Squee!
Oo! Two black eyes.
And then Mama appeared! She flew over my head onto a nearby perch and cursed at me in her language. Her body language and the pitch and amplitude of her voice clearly said, “Back off!” I walked a few meters away and stopped. Mama soon appeared in a nearby tree to keep an eye on me.
Occasionally, she gave me a two-eye-stare. Intense!
At 1:35 PM, I saw Papa again.
Three minutes later, I spotted Mama with a snack. Did she catch it or did Papa bring it? I’ve read and heard of the latter occurring, so maybe I missed the exchange and there is a hidden prey in my photo of Mr. Cooper. You can click on the photos below to see larger versions. If you are squeamish and not into bird-sushi, feel free to quickly scroll past the small photos.
At 13:48 PM, I returned to the nest and saw a flat blanket of white down.
A minute later, Mama was staring at me from a nearby perch. But I didn’t heed her warning right away. I liked her pose and her intense attitude and was hoping I could get an awesome photo of her. She didn’t oblige.
Well, that was very exciting!!! I wasn’t keen on losing two chunks of my scalp though and I didn’t want to cause Mrs. Cooper further stress. So I walked home. A week later, I returned for a much shorter nest visit. And 10 days later, 3 fledglings were testing their wings in their forest neighbourhood. Stay tuned…
 Curtis, Odette E., R. N. Rosenfield and J. Bielefeldt. 2006. Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.75