Monday, October 12, 2009

Disappearing Pigeons

It's easy to tell when a Cooper's Hawk is visiting my pigeon loft, the pigeons disappear for a while. Sunday afternoon I let out my pigs, secretly hoping my flock might get thinned a little by natural means. It is not uncommon for Coops to show up around my house in the winter and feast on my weaker birds but I'm surprised it took this long considering there is a nest in very close proximity to my home. I went back out to feed the pigeons later in the afternoon and noticed that they were nowhere in sight. This almost always means Cooper's Hawk. Sure enough I look over in my neighbor's yard and there he is munching on a YND (young and dumb: what I call inexperienced birds). He hadn't even broken in yet so I bumped him off and put the pigeon in my hawking bag to use for food for my bird. I did pay for the pigeon's food so should at least get my money's worth.

Forty-five minutes later I see some of the birds start coming back so I go near my loft to watch them fly for a bit. I must have made them feel safe because they came dropping in like rocks onto the loft roof and scrambled back through the trap just as fast as they could. Then WHAP! Another one gets nailed on the roof of my shed not 10 feet from me! The hawk sees me standing there and quickly lets go of his catch allowing this pigeon to fly away. I'm thinking "man this is one brave hawk." So I set up a trap that had been lent to me by a falconer friend to try my luck with. It is kind of a hybrid Swedish Gos trap crossed with a bow net and it triggers itself (I'm not gonna put picks of hawk traps on a public forum, sorry). Not ten minutes later I see my dog looking up at the top of the shed and sure enough there was a Cooper's Hawk securely caught inside!

I temporarily brought the hawk inside to get a few pictures.

A look at his front.

A look at his back.

From the coloring on can tell that this bird is a "tweener." He is molting from his juvenile plumage into his adult plumage. Quite a bit of brown feathers mixed with gray and about 1/2 of his tail and primary feathers were moulted into his mature feathers. Also his eyes were an orange color, about 1/2 way transformed from yellow to red. After a few pictures, I hooded and socked the bird and transferred him to a nice riparian area about 20 miles south of town. I figure that this is a migrating Cooper's Hawk so hopefully he'll continue on his merry way down through Tulsa; terrorizing pigeons as he goes. And I'll be ready for the next Coop that comes my way.


steveo_uk said...

I just got into pigeon keeping, can you elaborate a bit on your set up etc, Greatly appricated

Ryan said...

Steve, Email sent your website email.


steveo_uk said...

Thanks got it