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).

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