juvenile coopers hawk in the grass The Saga
Rufous Hawk

Chapter 20

Breakfast on the Balcony Rail

July 6, 2015

We were getting ourselves ready for a work day, when I heard noises outside on the bedroom balcony. A quick peek through the blinds was enough to confirm that one of the fledglings was on the balcony rail, furiously mantling prey. With tail spread wide and wings extended, he was guarding (mantling) his breakfast from any possible other critter with thievery in mind (particularly his siblings).

I noticed that there's a chunk missing from one of the young hawk's tail feathers (rectrices). Also, the white band at the end of the tail feathers is already ragged and worn-looking. My guess is that this particular fledgling is very bold. Will aggression win him more food? Or will his risk-taking lead him to make mistakes? Both speculations may be true.

Mantling Mantling

The little hawk did not see us, only five feet away, on the other side of the glass door, although he occasionally stopped eating to look around as though he knew someone was there.

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Please please please He also needed to keep an eye on his siblings, calling and flying in close, waiting for him to make an error in judgment and leave the food behind. But he was not in a sharing mood.

The prey, a small bird of indeterminate species, was most likely provided by Rufous or Roxie, as it was a neat, plucked little packet when the fledgling started eating. It looked as though it might have been selected from the poultry section of a meat market, except for the tiny feet and talons. The prey did make a hearty breakfast for our young hawk, however.

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The fledgling finally took a break and stood with crop bulging, looking all around to access his situation. One of his siblings was apparently a little too close for comfort, so he mantled once again before resuming his meal. When the little hawk finally flew, he left behind a tiny portion of the prey, not out of compassion for his siblings, but because he could eat no more.

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Here is a final video of the little hawk enjoying his breakfast:

Continue to Chapter 21: Food Fight