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

Chapter 2

Nest Building Begins

March 6: Gathering Building Material

Nest building has begun. We have seen Rufous picking up cypress sticks and flying across the canal to a live oak tree on the far side. Maybe the hawks were intimidated by the screaming jays and have decided to build in a different location? That’s not likely, as last year we spotted Rufous plucking the feathers from a blue jay that he had captured for his chicks’ dinner. Later in the day, I walked over to the tree, and searched all over, but no sign of a nest could I find.

March 15: Scouting the Neighborhood

Rufous continues to pick up sticks and fly northwest with them. Sometimes he selects a twig still attached to the tree and tugs and tugs until he breaks it off. But he still flies in the general northwest direction. It looks like he flies into the tree across the canal, but I have looked and looked, and can see no nest. I continually check the old nest site, but there is no new building material there.

Today, I decided to go in quest of the new nest site. I walked for half a mile to the north, to the west, and to the south, and searched each tree that had potential. I found several nests, but no stick nests large enough for a Coopers hawk family. Where are these crafty hawks building their nest this year? I am beginning to get a little depressed, thinking that I will miss out on all the action this year. Maybe I will discover the nest when the little fledglings leave the nest and begin to cry for attention.

March 17: Courting

Today was maintenance day for my computer. As I waited for the network specialist to do his work, I heard the familiar nesting cry of the hawks: “Kek-kek-kek-kek” in hawk language means, “I am near my nest, and everybody better get out of my way!” Going outside, I saw Henrietta fly north along the greenbelt to a willow tree that she frequents. “Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe they are building their nest in that willow tree.” I walked over to the bridge and Henrietta flew.

She flew up overhead, south along the canal. Then Rufous flew out toward her, and they sailed together, swooping low and lofting upward as a pair mated for life, in an annual ritual of courtship meant for them alone.

Continue to Chapter 3: Rufous' Injury