juvenile coopers hawk in the grass The Saga
Rufous Hawk

Year 2018 Preface

During the off-season, Jay and I have frequently wondered out loud about our hawk neighbors. We have accepted the certainty that things have changed. But we don't know why the behaviors of the hawks changed so abruptly during last year's breeding season. We have not seen either Rufous or Roxie, to the best of our ability to identify them, since March 10, 2017. We did see a Cooper's hawk from time to time during the winter, but there's no way of knowing who it was.

We are hopeful that this year we will be able to put together some of the missing pieces of the puzzle. How does the 2017 mother hawk, who clearly was not Roxie, fit into the picture. Her behavior was so different from Roxie's that we ended up calling her "Screamer," because that aptly described her at every glance. It is not unusual that we did not see Rufous once there were eggs in the nest, because father Cooper's hawks seem to wear a cloak of invisibility as they guard their nest and bring food to their family.

The 2017 fledglings did find our yard and Rufous' traditional territory last year, when they were old enough to begin wandering. It was a delight to see them! In August, I made the following notes in my journal: "Jay called out -- 'We're about to have a hawk-crow confrontation!' Sure enough, there were several crows strutting about on the ground and a couple in the cypress tree, where one of the young Cooper's hawks was watching intently. Suddenly the CoHa made his move, swinging out in pursuit of one of the crows. They circled around and lit in the cypress tree again. After awhile, the crows flew off across the street, where they marched around on the ground. Finally, the hawk took one more swoop at them and lit in a cedar elm tree, still keeping an eye on them."

Clearly, the hawk-crow conflict is not over. We hope to see whether there is a resolution during the 2018 season.

Continue to Chapter 1: The Hawks Return