By: John Garbutt
Watching the five Cooper’s Hawks fledge in mid-June under their mother’s watchful eyes seems like years ago. After that moment, I figured I had possibly seen the last of them, at least as a group. I also had other places to go, The Rio Grande Valley, Fort Davis, and the Bolivar Peninsula. As the calendar turned over to September, I began venturing back out to Frisco Commons on the weekends and on the way to work. The “kids” were missed.
On Sunday, September 13, 7am, I began my usual circuit at Frisco Commons. Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Headed Vireo, White-Eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, and a life addition, a Warbling Vireo! Then a family of Downy Woodpeckers moving between a couple of trees. Then everything scattered as an immature Cooper’s Hawk flew in after one of the Downy Woodpeckers! Hello again!
A few days later I witnessed the Cooper’s battling Blue Jays. The jays and hawk swirled around the wood line going in and out of visibility. I tried to capture a few shots as I cheered on my hawk. Nearby the Red-Shouldered Hawks were having issues of their own with the crows.
On Sunday the 20th, the hawk’s frustration seemed at a boiling point and if it was begging me for help. Luckily one of its siblings came to the rescue! The Jays versus Copper’s continued for the next couple of weeks. Occasionally I saw two of the hawks together. Based on visual sightings and sound, at least three Cooper’s Hawks were around.
As October arrived, I was still seeing two of the young hawks together and occasionally hearing calls in the riparian area. Early on the 4th I was observing two in the back and looking for one hawk that flew to my right behind a tree. I could not locate it. Then as I turned to my left, there one was, at eye level, within 15 feet. It sat there for a few minutes as we caught up. Earlier in the year, I watched a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron regurgitate a crawfish skeleton, and the hawk looked as if it was about to have a similar issue. It did produce a pellet. Perhaps a “feather ball” and a score against the jays?
As October turned to November then December, my trips to Commons and sightings lessoned. I look forward to next year and any possible nesting. In my short time of birding, this experience with the Cooper’s Hawk family has been the most enjoyable and memorable.
John W. Garbutt
Class of 2019