Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cooper's Hawk

I had been wondering why I haven't been seeing the hawks lately. The wait is over.

I was just staring out the backdoor enjoying the site of one of the recently banded Western Palm Warblers and Tutfted Titmice when a small bird joined the preening warbler in the laurel tree. Couldn't quite place it. Not a Palm for sure. Maybe a Kinglet.

Suddenly, all the birds froze. We know what that means. Raptor just flew into the party. A dozen Mourning Doves were not pleased but held their positions perfectly still. And me without a camera...

I went out to the van to grab the camera and binoculars and circled to the side of the yard hoping to find the raptor without causing the doves to try and fly past it. A flock of Goldfinches flew in overhead as I made my way back.

I wasn't fast enough. The doves burst upward in all directions and the streaking missle of a hawk dove downward. The mist net shook hard. It was in there!

With no direct entry into the backyard from where I was, I ran back around into the house and out through the backdoor. Maybe it got out. If not, how was I going to deal with it? I have never held a hawk before.

It was there, alright. The intended target dove was also in the net a foot away. How I managed to get the hawk untangled and then the dove with one free hand I am still not sure of.

The young Cooper's Hawk was nice and confused, occasionally looking at me but never tried to bite or grab me with it's talons. I didn't have the Pyle's reference book so I had no idea what size band to put on this bird. I would have to let it go without one.

It did need to get documented, though. I called for my boys to come see the bird and had a picture taken. I don't end up in many photos but I wanted to pose with my first hawk! I got rid of the bag soon but at the time I wan't taking any chances.

Cooper's Hawk

An hour later, the same bird tried to get the doves again before flying off. I am sure it will be back by many times. Maybe in the net again.

Cooper's Hawk

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