Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hawks Nesting In The Front Yard

For the past month or so we've had a family of hawks nesting in a tree in our front yard. We saw them scouting out the area last year, and they began building a nest, but deserted it after a few days, dashing our hopes of seeing them raise a family. This spring they returned, enlarged their nest, and started their brood.

There are five babies in the nest, and they've been growing at an incredible rate. This picture was taken just a couple weeks ago, and now the little hawks are a lot bigger.

Both parents were taking care of the young ones at first, but lately I've only noticed the mother feeding the babies.

They were just puffs of light tan fluff at first. Sorry this picture isn't clearer, but I took it through a window using the zoom feature. The nest is a collection of twigs, and doesn't look very sturdy, in fact, there's been a steady decrease in the size of the nest as twigs are knocked off during storms, but amazingly it's held together.

We had a terrible thunderstorm, very windy and rainy, and I watched helplessly as the mother hawk defended her babies from the elements, shielding them with her wings. Every time thunder would boom, I could see her tremble. Thank goodness they all came through that storm in good condition, and the nest held together.

It's a treat to watch the little hawks growing, we can see them from our bedroom window
and also from the front yard.An added bonus is I've noticed a decrease in the chipmunk population, which were really becoming a terrible bother. Chipmunks are cute, but they can be destructive, especially when they start tunneling under your sidewalks and patio.

We aren't sure what type of hawk they are. My husband has narrowed it down to two, Sharp Shinned Hawk or Cooper's Hawk. They have a call that sounds like the jungle bird noises from the old Tarzan movies, at first I thought it was a person making the noise, not at all what I thought a hawk would sound like.

This is the size the little hawks are now, about half the size of their mother. They've got some real feathers, but they still have a lot of their baby fuzz. They like to flap their wings and hop about in the nest, and the mother leaves them alone for increasingly longer periods.

I'm looking forward to seeing them learn how to fly. Judging by how fast they're growing and how many feathers they've got, I would imagine they'll be flying in the next couple weeks. The hawks are a noble and majestic bird, and it's been a real pleasure to have them nesting in our tree. I hope they come back next year.


Jewelles said...

wow! you know I thought most hawks nest in the tall pines! how lucky for you to be bless to witness all this!

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Michele said...

How neat!! I bet you are going to miss them when the fly the nest1
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Tho Dinh said...

So cool! Nothing quite like this ever happened to me. I wish I could see the little birdies and watch them grow. Thanks for sharing!

Maybeads said...

That's awesome - great pics!