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

Chapter 8

Henrietta's Tail

May 10: Henrietta's Tail

This evening, the hawk nest swayed in the breeze, and Henrietta's tail rode above the nest like a great sail. I ventured closer to the nest to get a photo of the tail. There was no movement in the nest, so hopefully I did not disturb Mama Hawk. The time for hatching is drawing near. Perhaps there is some faint movement in the eggs at this point, with tiny hatchlings beginning to stir in their desire to see the outside world.

Closeup of Rufous Preening

May 13: Hatchlings in the Nest?

This morning, Henrietta is sitting at the side of the nest. I can't be sure, but I believe there are one or more hatchlings in the nest. Later in the day, I spotted Rufous, bulleting through the trees toward the nest, calling a nasal "kek-kek-kek" on the approach.

May 15: The Brooding Begins

Henrietta is in the nest, but sitting up high, with her head clearly visible. She is undoubtedly brooding one or more hatchlings at this point. There will be from 2-4 hatchlings, covered with white natal down. They will hatch at intervals one to two days apart, in the order the eggs were laid. This is called asynchronous hatching (not all at the same time).

May 17: How Henrietta Keeps the Chicks Covered

Henrietta is brooding the hatchlings this morning, with her great tail stuck high out of the nest. In the days when she was incubating her eggs, only about half of the tail was visible. Now the entire tail juts out of the nest. She is protecting the helpless chicks with her body, but does not lower herself entirely on them, giving them a little room. All of the eggs have probably hatched by this time.

We catch only fleeting glimpses of Rufous, as he zooms through the trees with prey for his family. I have not seen him today, so he is undoubtedly perched, silent and watchful in a nearby tree, awaiting the next opportunity!

May 19: The "Weather Vane"

Henrietta changes positions frequently as she continues to brood her chicks. Her tail is like a weather vane, sometimes pointing North, sometimes SE, occasionally due West.

Continue to Chapter 9: Tending the Brood of Chicks