Last week my buddy, Daniel, and I met up in Tulsa to scout some Cooper's Hawk nests. There were four nests that we quickly found with the help another falconer and all four nests had mother Coops sitting tightly on them suggesting that they were still on eggs. At this point I was still on the fence as to whether or not I was going to try a imprint Coops, and because all of these birds were on eggs I did not have a decision to make.
I had just left my house and made a right onto the highway heading down to Tulsa for a work meeting, when directly in front of me I see a male Cooper's Hawk burning by with a sparrow in it's talons heading straight for a stand of trees behind an old line dancing bar and in front of a housing addition. This was only 2 blocks from my house! I watched exactly where the bird went in and thought to myself, "I'm gonna have to check that out tomorrow."
I get a text from Daniel around noon that his boss was letting him off early and he was coming up to Bartlesville to hang and talk falconry. Work for me was relatively slow as well, so I finished up what needed to be done and I suggested to Daniel that we go look for a nest where I saw the Coop the day before, knowing full well that there was a slim chance of finding the nest since the trees are fully leaved out.
We began our search with me following a small creek and Daniel was about 30 yards away slightly deeper in the woods. We had been there about 10 mins and I heard Daniel call my name as I was inspecting a beaver tree. Just as I turn my head, I see the shadow of a larger bird pass over Daniel. I told him to look up where I saw the shadow come from and here is what he saw...
Complete with the female standing the nest. Not in a brooding posture! We marked the spot and quickly went back to the car to get our climbing gear and to invite Kent to come along for added safety.
Upon Kent's arrival we hiked back to the nest, climbed the tree, set the slings for the safety rope, and took the first picture over the edge of the nest.
We hastily counted 5 babies (hastily because we counted 6 babies in another picture from a different angle) and determined that this was the perfect nest to pull from. So I climbed the tree again, this time to retrieve an eyas. I picked up the two smallest birds, they are the least likely to survive with so many brothers and sisters, and chose the one with smaller feet in hopes that it will be a male. I will be happy with either sex but if I had to choose I would prefer a male. We got the bird safely down, picked up our ropes and equipment, put moth balls around the tree, and got out of there. Curiously, the parents got out of dodge while we were climbing. Parents at the Cooper's Hawk nests that I have even gotten near in the past showed extremely aggressive behaviors when they had babies. Maybe this was just a passive pair or maybe they are young, whatever the reason the climb was much easier without being attacked.
Here we are all settled in at home. I fed him from the end of a stick for the first evening and he took to eating chopped up quail from a carcass on his own the very next day. So far so good. I cannot wait to see where this goes.