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

Chapter 13

Slats Ventures Out

July 7
Slats Peering at the Camera
Slats peers over his shoulder at the camera.
It is not hard to find Slats now, as he flies around in the near surrounds of the nest tree. All that’s needed is to listen for his cries. "Peeee-yuuuu! Here I am, Mom and Dad. See what I can do!" Today, I managed to take some photos of Slats’ backside, as he peered over his shoulder at me. His back is quite dark, much darker than Henrietta’s, and almost as gray as Rufous'. His tail appears to be fully developed now, and obviously his wings are working well too.

July 8

As I return from work in the afternoon, I always drive over the canal bridge and slow down to see if there are any hawk family members about the nest. Today nobody was at home. However, as I parked the car, I spotted a large bird in the grass beneath one of the cypress trees. It was Slats! Quietly, I made my way into the house and retrieved my camera. It seemed as though Slats was posing for a photo, right under the very cypress tree where Rufous and Henrietta’s courtship took place. I glanced down to adjust my camera, and when I looked back up, Slats had flown! Slats Poses in the Grass
About seven weeks old.
Isn't Slats handsome?

July 10

As I glanced out the patio window, I saw Slats fly down to the canal below the nest tree. He was attracted by the sound of water running between the canal drains, creating a small waterfall. I watched from the patio as Slats walked into the water. He looked around and then squatted, waggling his butt in the water. This felt so good that he lowered his whole body into the running water for a swim.

Slats Sunbathing
Playtime for Slats: First a swim, then a sunbath.
In a few minutes, Slats flew up into a cypress tree to sunbathe. As I snapped photos, Sean and Katana came out for a walk. Slats curiously eyed the young pit bull, but did not feel compelled to fly until lawn mowers rolled into the yard.

Hopefully, Slats will return to his swimming hole during the day. Today’s forecast is for temperatures around 105° in the metroplex.

July 13

This evening I spotted Slats posing on a large branch of a live oak tree. He did not seem to mind as I snapped photos, only a few feet away. Slats hopped about from limb to limb, and I was able to photograph him front and back.

Slats Hunting 1 Slats Hunting 2 Slats Hunting 3

A few minutes later, Jay and I went inside. Suddenly, Jay pointed out the patio window. "Look!" And there was Slats, attempting to catch a squirrel! Over and over, he swooped down at the squirrel, who just scooted out of his reach each time. Slats pursued the squirrel to the other side of the canal. The last time we saw the squirrel, he was making a break for it, heading south along the canal at a pretty fast pace. Jay and I wondered what Slats would have done with the squirrel, who was about as large as he is. "That’s okay, Slats. Your mom and pop don’t have much luck catching squirrels either."

Now we know that Slats is on the hunt. We haven’t seen Henrietta or Rufous for a few days, so maybe Slats is on his own. If that’s the case, it appears he knows what to do, even if a squirrel is a bit much to handle.

Continue to Chapter 14: The Predator-in-Training