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

Chapter 4

Love Birds

March 20

Jay and I had spent most of the weekend in Fort Worth attending a seminar. As we were driving home tonight, snow began to fall. By the time we got home, the ground was covered, and the temperature was in the low 30’s. I thought about Rufous and Henrietta, and wondered where they hunkered down to escape the cold. They must be thinking, "This shouldn’t be happening! It’s supposed to be springtime! Did we come home too soon?"

March 24

It’s a beautiful sunny day in North Texas, and it feels like springtime again. While we drank our breakfast juice, Jay and I watched the hawks’ home base tree out the window. We could see the pair of them moving about in the tree, and we wondered out loud which one was Henrietta. One of the hawks was sort of fluffed out with hackles raised on its head. It began moving around and calling “Aiiieeh.” “That’s Henrietta,” I said. Then suddenly Rufous flew up and settled on her back, both of them calling “Aiieeh aiieeh.” Jay said, “Well, now we know for sure which one is Rufous!” It won’t be long now before Henrietta is on the nest.

March 28

The past couple of days have been extremely windy, and we didn’t see much of the hawks. Today, despite a milder north wind, the hawks were out in the cypress trees. I spotted both hawks sitting side by side on a limb of one of the smaller cypress trees and wished they were closer so I could get a photo. I set up my camera gear so that it was just out of sight of the birds and waited. Through the branches, I could see them. I heard Henrietta singing her love song “Aiiieeh!” to Rufous. The coupling of hawks is a noisy business. There’s a great deal of wing-flapping and screaming “Aiiieeh! Aiiieeh! Aiiieeh!” I watched as Rufous retreated to smooth his feathers. Henrietta perched still and quiet on the limb for perhaps fifteen minutes before she flew. Before long, a flock of little green flycatchers flew into the cypress trees, and I put away the camera gear. It was time for the hawks to go hunting, and flycatchers are much too small to interest them.

April 1

This morning, Jay and I were watching from the patio window as Henrietta flew out from the nest tree to her favorite perch, high in a nearby cypress tree. She appeared to be having her morning exercise, spreading her wings and stepping high with her legs. Then a feather dropped down, a large tail feather. It plummeted to the ground. As Henrietta flew back to the nest tree, she fanned her great tail and moved it like a rudder to shore her up into the nest. Jay and I both went out to retrieve the feather, but it had mysteriously disappeared.

April 3

Glancing out the patio window, I saw moving shadows on the ground. It was Rufous and Henrietta, doing a fly-by. They turned and dove together, swooping up and back to the nest tree. What a beautiful sight! I imagine they are filled with joy, knowing their nest is ready, and their family is on the way. Success!

Continue to Chapter 5: Contemplating Motherhood