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

Chapter 10

Introducing Young Slats

June 20

We returned from California last night too late to see the hawks. We have wondered about them all week, while we enjoyed one of the best vacations ever. Now, I could hardly wait to see them. As the morning sun shone full into the hawk nest, I took my binoculars, dreading the possibility of seeing only an empty nest. But there was a hawk, standing tall and proud on the edge of the nest! The bright light of the sun shone full on the bird’s breast, and I could see the markings of a juvenile hawk! Is it possible that the young hawks have grown so much in only a week’s time?

Juvenile Hawk
Henrietta's markings are vertical,
like this juvenile hawk.
Later in the morning, I went out for another look. This time there was no big hawk, but the nest was roiling with activity. A head poked up, then a feathery back, then a downy wing stretched out. Suddenly I realized that the chicks were still in the nest. The large hawk I had seen was Henrietta! And now I understood that Henrietta’s awkward antics were probably not just characteristic of her personality, but of her youth. Henrietta is a young hawk! This is undoubtedly her first nesting experience. Her light buff color and vertical chest markings will change as she grows older.

June 21

Henrietta is constantly on guard, as the activity within the nest increases. Rufous can be seen only occasionally, and is undoubtedly busy providing food for his growing family. We have still seen only one chick. Either this chick is very precocious, leaving his siblings in the nest, or he is the only one.

June 22

A lone chick now clings tenaciously to the side of the nest, and it probably won’t be long before he tries his wings. Henrietta perches stolidly beside him, determined to guard him with her life. Jay and I managed to take somewhat better photos this evening, focusing our little camera through his more powerful binoculars.

Coopers hawk mother and chick
The chick peers over the side of the nest as Henrietta frets.

The head of the chick seems like a flying cap, and his beak is prominent. I took one look and said, "This chick looks like Slats Rodgers!" And Jay agreed. How appropriate! Slats Rodgers was the first Texan to become licensed as a pilot, then became famous for his daredevil stunts over Love Field. Yes – Slats – that’s our aggressive chick! Now, can he perform like his namesake? It won’t be long before he tries his wings.

Slats Rodgers
Doesn't our hawk chick
look like Slats Rodgers?

Continue to Chapter 11: Slats, the Toddler