I'd been picking up sticks out of the yard, and considering whether to make another sparrow pile or perhaps another giant yard nest when a hawk soared over my head. Hmmm. Looks rather long tailed for a buteo. I watched as it flew into a tree and wove amongst the branches maybe three blocks down. Accipiter!
I noted the tree against a chimney from a sight line over roofs from where I was standing . It looked like several of blocks away. I dumped the sticks, got the camera and as I was in a hurry, jumped into the car and took off.
I followed the sight line to the tree, in which I thought I'd seen the hawk enter. Nothing.
A friend had said a few days before she thought she'd seen some hawks in a tree doing "something odd" in front of a house quite a number of blocks away. Upon description the "something odd" might well have been copulation. I get back in the car and keep going further south.
There were three teenagers sitting on a porch across the street from the house number I'd been given so I asked them if they'd seen any hawks lately.
Nope, they hadn't. I scanned the trees in front of the noted house and there was what looked a whole lot like a nest.
See top photo.
Well it looks a bit like a crow's nest but not quite. Also too exposed. A squirrel dray that had lost its leaves? Wrong size twigs.
That's when a hawk, (Coopers maybe?) flew over my head to a tree in the backyard of the house where the mystery nest was in a front yard tree. Bird had disappeared. You never know what you might see when you bring the photo up at home. He had to be there somewhere.
I keep looking. What is that center? Is that a tail?
Yes it is. But at the time I didn't have the ability to zoom in this far. You can see it reasonably well with a cropped photo but at the time I wasn't sure of what I was looking at. So I looked over at what could be a nest.
Then took a couple of steps toward it. Saw something in the corner of my eye and looked back at the possible adult entry area from earlier.
Is that a hawk at the top of that evergreen?
No, in this case it IS the top of that evergreen. Sigh.
I look back left.
My my, wait just a minute. Look who has abandoned cover and is exposing himself. Well as much as an Accipiter EVER exposes himself.
I do believe that there are a couple of bright red eyes staring at me. Okay, I hate to admit it. And I'm sure I'll get used to them but a mature Cooper's bright red eyes do give me the creeps a little.
Which brings us to the question of just which species this bird is.
(When I got home I looked at Peterson's Hawks of North America and found one. Yes, I use Peterson's. Sibley's is for other things though I do find the drawing and paintings look more than a bit like stuffed bird skins. For a pure ID field mark, I go with Peterson's everytime.)
And what is that field mark for this species? For a mature adult Cooper's Hawk this is a jewel, for as we have discussed numerous times it isn't all that easy to decide only on the mark of size or the neck or no neck possibility for positive ID. Though I admit that those can be helpful. But do you know the sure way to tell a mature Coop from a mature Sharpie?
Still obviously watching me, then...
Suddenly the hawk looks North.
And a different hawk zips over my head and whips into the tree across the street.
I go across the street and look up the trunk. Bingo!
On the next shot, my flash accidentally goes off and she flips off the branch and is gone.
I look back, and the other hawk is gone. Misdirection by a pair, it works nearly every time. I scan further South, and keep going. No hawk.
There he is! And he knows I know but keeps sitting. I had read that some Cooper's Hawks are becoming comparatively human habituated and this may be one of the them.
Having "looked" at the hawks for some minutes, and it is getting dark, I decide that it is time to leave them in peace.
No question I'll be visiting them again soon.
Plus George and Martha of Highbridge Park have a Hatch!!!
Go to the links panel on the right and click on Rob Schmunk's link, Morningside Park Hawks for pix and details.