Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cooper's Hawk along the Little Miami...and the value of a field journal...

I often see Cooper's Hawks in my backyard, but I saw this fellow along the Little Miami River. I see him regularly in the same spot in a tree about 20 feet off the bike trail. The first time I saw him there was October 9, 2007 (since I've seen a Cooper's Hawk in the exact spot many times since then, I like to think it's the same bird, but who knows, maybe it's just a popular branch!). From my field journal:
Thursday, October 9, 2007 (1:30 p.m., 85 degrees)   A breeze sweeping through the over-dry trees—leaves falling in such fast succession it sounds like rain (not beautiful, colored leaves, but brown, crispy leaves, victims of the drought). The trees are still green—odd to see and hear falling leaves. Wow! Three or four steps further I am eye level with a Cooper's Hawk. His back is to me—blue-gray feathers, three black bars on his tail. When he turns his head, I see a fierce red/amber eye. He knows I'm there. He flies away.

A beautiful Cooper's Hawk with vibrant red eyes surveys his territory.
Cooper's Hawk along the Little Miami River and bike trail.
I'm so glad I've kept a field journal over the years. I've learned a lot from observations, and I like being able to go back and check on dates. When I saw this fellow a few days ago, I wondered how many years it had been since I first saw him claiming that branch. I was thinking three or four years...turns out it's been almost seven years! Cooper's Hawks live an average of 12 years in the wild, but according to Cornell, the oldest known Cooper's Hawk was 20.4 years, which means this could very well be the same bird, and I might see him on that exact branch for many years to come!

A beautiful Cooper's Hawk surveys his territory in the woods along the little Miami River. 

I'm going to be volunteering at the Biggest Week in American Birding warbler festival (on Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio) this May. On May 12 and may 15, I'll be teaching a class for beginners on basic field sketching and nature journaling techniques. If you're there and want to learn how to start sketching in the field and the importance of keeping a field or nature journal, sign up for the class. I'd love to see you there!

(...on the other days I'll be roaming the Magee Marsh boardwalk watching the amazing phenomena of spring migration along Lake Erie. If you want to see warblers and other neotropical migrants, come to Magee Marsh in May. The trees along the boardwalk literally drip with birds as they rest and fuel up for the last leg of their journey across Lake Erie to their nesting grounds up north). Click here for registration information.

...and in other birding news...
Little Miami, Inc. has a new name! They are now the Little Miami Conservancy, which is much more fitting since they have been involved with river conservation since 1967!

Click here to learn more about the Little Miami Conservancy.
Click here for a pdf explaining their mission and history.
Click here for their Facebook page.

I'm going to have another post soon about everything they do. If you're looking for a way to volunteer and help protect the Little Miami River and its riparian corridor, check them out!


Frank said...

Hi Kelly. I can understand your joy in catching up with this hawk again. Glorious pics.

Enjoy your time at Magee Marsh ... maybe one year I might make the journey to Ohio.

Janice K said...

Those pictures are beautiful. I have often found it interesting that I often see hawks sitting along the highways at about the same spot frequently. They must indeed have their favorite perches.

Montanagirl said...

Really nice shots of the Cooper's, Kelly. I haven't seen one of those in a long time.

Banjo52 said...

Gogrous. Really great shots, Kelly. Is it reasonable for me to decide it's a Cooper's based mainly on the tail? It works vs. Red Tailed, but I'm not sure about other hawks.

Elaine said...

Excellent shots, Kelly!

Tammie Lee said...

such a beauty
and captured so wonderfully
in special light