Cooper’s Hawks Raise a Family at the Rattray Marsh in Mississauga

In 2016, I tried to remember to check on the Cooper’s Hawks’ nest each time walked past it while visiting the Rattray Marsh in Mississauga, Ontario. While it is reasonably easy to see in early spring, as the trees leafed out and the Riverbank Grape vined its way up and around the nest it became harder and harder to check out the chicks. So there are no epic photos here just a few shots to roughly show the progress of the progeny. The Cooper’s family had a successful year despite the almost-drought-like conditions.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Fledged Calling July 7 on NaturalCrooksDotCom_edited-1

A sneak preview from July 7 of one of the fledglings calling.

First Comes the Coopers’ Nest and Then Hopefully Eggs

Photo of Coopers Hawk Nest Looks Empty But Tail on NaturalCrooksDotComApril17
On April 17, the nest *looks* empty but if you look closely you’ll see one of those “sticks” is a tail.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Nest Tail on NaturalCrooksDotComApril17

It may be easier to see in this zoom.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Nest Right Shoulder April 20 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

If you are skeptical perhaps this photo from April 20 will be more convincing. When I first arrived, all I could see was a back and tail. The hawk soon started keeping an eye on me, though, so I left.

Please Keep Your Distance from Nesting Birds

These photos were all taken from the public footpath. Tempting though it was to go “off trail” I stayed on the proper path. Without the 600 mm lens and a lot of megapixels to crop from I wouldn’t have been able to get photos. (A good point-and-shoot with a 50x zoom would also have worked.)

Photo of Coopers Hawk On Nest Over Shoulder April 20 on NaturalCrooksDotComYou can see I’m being watched.

Even though I didn’t stay watching long on any visit, the parents were always aware of my presence. As you’ll see, I often provided entertainment to the bored incubating parent. So short though my visits were and distant though I was, my activity still stressed the birds. I was also careful not to stop if I thought my interest might encourage someone less interested in the birds’ welfare to try for photos.

How Long Does It Take for Cooper’s Hawk Eggs to Hatch Into Chicks?

I’m not sure when they started incubating the eggs.

I saw no signs of feeding young on my next few visits but lots of signs of incubation.

Photo of Coopers Nest with Tail Up On NaturalCrooksDotCom

April 21: Tail up.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Watching from Nest On NaturalCrooksDotCom

Heads up.

Photo of Coopers Nest Head Up April 30 On NaturalCrooksDotCom

April 30: The watcher is watched.

Photo of Coopers Nest May 9 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

May 9: Still lying low in the nest.

Photo of Coopers Watching Me May 9 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

At least I provide something to look at!

Photo of Coopers Hawk On Nest Close up Brightened Rattray May 26 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

May 26: Still watching suspiciously.

According to the Cornell University website, Cooper’s Hawks usually incubate the eggs for 30-36 days.

Signs of New Life in the Cooper’s Hawks’ Nest!

Finally, in June, something different!

Photo of Coopers Hawk on Nest Rattray on NaturalCrooksDotCom

June 4: The parent is probably feeding a chick. I left quickly in case I might disturb the birds.

Photo of Coopers Hawks Three Chicks Heads Two Clearly June 17 On NaturalCrooksDotCom
June 17: There are three chicks at least!

Photo of Coopers Hawk Face Of Middle Chick June 17 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Bored and hot!

Photo of Coopers Hawk Two Chicks Back One With Feathers June 17 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

And one chick already has some “real” feathers coming in!

Feeding A Nestful of Chicks is Full-time Work for a Cooper’s Hawk

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Feeding Time June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

June 28: I happened to arrive at just the right time to see some action at the nest. Just before I arrived, a parent arrived with food.

The parent then stayed near the nest for a while.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Adult Calling June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotComIt called a few times while perched.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Looking Down June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

The children watched their parent closely.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Looking Left June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Even when the parent moved perches.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Adult Peering June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

The parent was more interested in watching me.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 One Headless Watching for Parent June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

When their parent moved off they started to lose interest.

How Many Chicks Do Cooper’s Hawks Raise Per Year?

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Shadows 25 June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

I was never sure if there were 3 or 4 chicks. The nest is crowded and quite far away from where I was standing.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks Possible 4th June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Here it looks like there are 4 but it could be an illusion.

Allaboutbirds says they typically have 2 – 6 eggs in a clutch, once a year.

They spent a lot of time watching, hopefully, for a parent to arrive with another meal.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Watching for Parent June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

How Quickly Do Cooper’s Hawks Fledge and Leave the Nest?

You can see they’ve got quite a few “real” feathers by June 28.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Tail Wing Spread June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

In fact, this one chick spent some time stretching and flapping. His nest mate doesn’t seem impressed with ducking.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Chicks 3 Wing Up June 28 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Then, on July 7

Photo of Coopers Hawks Two Fledged in Nest July 7 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

I was lucky again, and saw this bit of activity.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Fledged Calling July 7 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

A parent flew in near the nest but did not bring it’s catch right to the nest. This one called to it.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Fledged Leaving Nest July 7 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Then half-climbed and half-flew up.

Photo of Coopers Hawk Fledged Flying July 7 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Then actually flew or glided over a few yards to another perch.

I saw immature Cooper’s Hawks in the Rattray Marsh throughout the rest of the summer and early fall.  Hopefully, some of them were these same fledglings all grown up!

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