juvenile coopers hawk in the grass The Saga
Rufous and Henrietta Hawk

Chapter 7

A Day in the Life of Hawk Parents

June 1

It was breakfast juice time, when all the excitement began. "Susi, squirrels!" I shouted. And Susi sprang into action at the window sill, to protect our household against the latest squirrel attack. There were at least three -- probably more -- young squirrels chasing each other round and round the cypress tree. They raced up into the very top of the tree, playing tag and "king of the hill." The tree seemed to be alive with a family of monkeys. "They are playing a deadly game," I thought. And sure enough, Henrietta flew up onto a lower branch of the tree. Intrigued by the juvenile squirrels, she judged them to be about the right size for a family dinner. But as she swooped down for her prey, they nimbly leaped out of her reach. Swooping back for another attempt, she missed once again. Tempting as the squirrels may be, they were just too fast for her.

Later in the morning, I saw movement in the cypress tree. It was Rufous, plucking the feathers from a small bird. His family would not go hungry this day.

June 4

It is impressive how the hawks keep such close vigilance over their nest. Almost always, there is an adult baby-sitter either standing over or hovering inside the nest. Sometimes I can only see a long tail extending from the nest, so itís obvious they cuddle quite close to the baby hawks. By this time, the chicks should be growing quite active. Based on what we have read, we expect they will remain in the nest for about four weeks before they begin to venture outside.

This evening, I was observing Henrietta with my binoculars, when an Asian family strolled by. They were curious, so I invited them to take a look. Their little girl, about five years old, was excited to see such a big bird standing on the side of the nest. It has been fun to see how surprised our neighbors are when they realize these great birds are raising their young right in our midst. Disturbed by the attention, Henrietta flew down and into a nearby live oak tree.

The evening was nice and cool, so I asked Susi if she wanted to go outside. "Mrrrwr," she replied. So I put on her little walking jacket, attached her leash, and we went out for a walk. She didnít go far. As soon as she went over the patio wall, Henrietta began to move about in the live oak tree, hopping from limb to limb, and calling, "Kek-kek-kek-kek!" She was clearly disturbed, and Susi seemed to be aware of this. We went back into the patio, and Henrietta immediately swooped down and up into the tree to her nest. She had had enough excitement for the day!

Continue to Chapter 8: Tornado Alley