Cooper’s Hawk (Case History #1)

Cooper’s Hawk replaced in nest basket after nest tree was destroyed

In the summer of 2005, a tornado swept through Vestavia Hills, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, toppling the nest tree of a Cooper’s Hawk family that were raising their young in a wooded front yard.  A single nestling was found alive on the ground, along with the remains of at least two other older juveniles.   After an unavoidable delay of almost a week, a nest basket was installed as close to the original nest tree as possible, about 20 feet up in a large Sweet Gum tree.

(Above) Reunited nestling in basket, head just visible above rim

The recorded alarm calls were used to call in the adults, although a Cooper’s Hawk had been sighted streaking through the yard when the rescue team first arrived.  Contact with the adults was established almost immediately, and the young bird was immediately tended by both parents.  In fact, the birds were exceptionally tolerant of human presence near the nest site, and we were able to make daily observations of the adult female at the nest, offering food to the nestling, while the male could frequently be seen making deliveries of food to the nest.  It was a few days later, on one of these observation trips that we realized there was another juvenile in the tree, a well-developed brancher that was perched in dense cover about 10 feet above the nest.  That, of course, explained why the adults were sighted in the yard when the rescue team  first arrived to install the nest basket.

It always helps if the adult birds are tending other juveniles, because of course they will have to stay close to the nest site.  In this case, though, we had no idea that any of the other juveniles had survived. The younger bird eventually branched, and joined his older sibling higher in the tree.  The Cooper’s Hawk family had tolerated a tremendous amount of disturbance, including several days of clean-up by tree crews following the storm.

Reunited bird exercises wings near nest basket

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