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.
A sneak preview from July 7 of one of the fledglings calling.
First Comes the Coopers’ Nest and Then Hopefully Eggs
It may be easier to see in this zoom.
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.)
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.
April 21: Tail up.
April 30: The watcher is watched.
May 9: Still lying low in the nest.
At least I provide something to look at!
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!
June 4: The parent is probably feeding a chick. I left quickly in case I might disturb the birds.
Bored and hot!
And one chick already has some “real” feathers coming in!
Feeding A Nestful of Chicks is Full-time Work for a Cooper’s Hawk
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.
The children watched their parent closely.
Even when the parent moved perches.
The parent was more interested in watching me.
When their parent moved off they started to lose interest.
How Many Chicks Do Cooper’s Hawks Raise Per Year?
I was never sure if there were 3 or 4 chicks. The nest is crowded and quite far away from where I was standing.
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.
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.
In fact, this one chick spent some time stretching and flapping. His nest mate doesn’t seem impressed with ducking.
Then, on July 7
I was lucky again, and saw this bit of activity.
A parent flew in near the nest but did not bring it’s catch right to the nest. This one called to it.
Then half-climbed and half-flew up.
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!
- A Family of Cardinals Fledges at Lakeside Park
- A Close Encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk (or Was It a Sharp Shinned?)
- What Big Owl Is Being Chased by Crows and Hawks In Mississauga?
Have you watched a family of birds grow up? Please share your sighting with a comment.