Monday, June 27, 2011

Cooper's Hawk Down

While walking around the park today, I happened upon a couple of guys with a cardboard box.  As I passed, I noticed a very young Cooper's Hawk sitting on the ground next to the trunk of one of the large Cottonwood trees.  It just sat there looking stunned.  Most of the flight feathers had grown in, but it still had a few tufts of down in various spots.  The bird had clearly fallen out of the nest a bit before it was ready to fly.

I stopped to chat a bit.  They had called the Rapter Center at the U of M and were apparently advised to try to bring the hawk in so the vet could check it out to see if it was injured or not.  I have mixed feelings about intervening in a case like this, and separating the bird from its parent.  I personally felt that the bird probably wasn't badly injured and was probably just stunned from the shock its world suddenly turned upside down.  If it had been possible to put it back up near its nest, perhaps that would have been the best option, but considering the height of the lowest branches on the Cottonwood, and the number of off-leash dogs that roam the park, taking the little guy to the raptor center was probably the best option.  And besides, maybe it was actually injured, who knows?

Another passer-by offered to scoop up the hawk, so he donned some gloves and placed the little guy into the box, and off they drove.

I think there are still a couple of young in the nest (at least I did see the mother still standing vigil near the nest), so the mother should still have plenty to keep her occupied for the next little while.  But the young hawks are clearly about to fledge.  Keep your eyes open and you might notice some awkward little hawks around the park learning to hunt (and doing so rather poorly for a while).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chipping Sparrows Emerge

There have been quite a few chipping sparrow fledglings around the park lately. I'm hearing the little guys begging everywhere. I found a Chipping Sparrow nest a couple of days ago with at least 4 young birds in it. It was in one of the small evergreen trees at the top of the tall stairs (NE of lake), but as of today it's empty.

Since my last update, I've also gotten better views of the Cooper's Hawk nest, and I've seen up to 3 juveniles in the nest with the mother.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooper's Hawk Nest Update

This morning I caught sight of at least one young Cooper's Hawk in the nest just south of the lake. It was still wearing its downy white plumage, so it'll be a little while before it leaves the nest.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Bluebirds Emerge

I saw at least four Eastern Bluebird fledglings (accompanied by both parents) on my walk around the park this morning.

Eastern Bluebird Fledglings
Two of the newly-fledged Eastern Bluebirds

A Black-crowned Night-heron was also present.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Random Chipping Sparrow

I nearly stepped on this little guy this morning. Love that rusty crown.

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heat Wave

Well, it's certainly been feeling a lot like summer all of a sudden. The flashy migrants have moved on and we've been hit with 100-degree temperatures. So things have slowed down significantly, but there's still been a slow trickle of milestones from the resident breeding birds:
  • I heard my first House Wren at the park this morning bubbling away near the tennis courts (though I didn't manage to see him).
  • Barn Swallows have been regular over the lake and coursing over the soccer fields on the north end of the park. I also saw a small group of Northern Rough-winged Swallows on May 31 -- a first for me at the park.
  • Chimney Swifts are a near constant presence over the park, sometimes dipping down to scoop up a drink of water from the lake.
  • A flock of Cedar Waxwings has been resident in one of the (hackberry?) trees on the south side of the park for the past week or so.
  • I saw my first Wood Duck fledglings of the year on June 6.
  • No sign yet of the Eastern Bluebird fledglings, though I did notice the female repeatedly dive-bombing a squirrel that was a bit too close to the nest cavity for comfort.
  • I've seen American Robins carrying food in their bills, so there must be active nests in the park, though I haven't managed to locate one.
This morning I observed a male Red-winged Blackbird enthusiastically singing and displaying in the reeds at the north end of the lake. I suspect that this particular spot holds a Song Sparrow nest, as I've seen a pair of them in the same area numerous times recently (once carrying a couple of caterpillars in its bill). This morning, one of the song sparrows was persistently giving its 'chimp' call at the blackbird ("Would you mind? I'm trying to raise a family here"), and the blackbird repeatedly chased the song sparrow away from its scolding perch. I've seen Red-winged Blackbirds quite regularly this spring, but they tend to be calling from high in the treetops. This is the first time I've seen one down in the reeds giving an obvious mating display. I didn't see any audience for his display, however.