**BE WARNED… this one is going to get gruesome y’all.
Raptors look as raptors do because raptors do what raptors do. They kill things daily. They look fierce because that brow ridge protects their precious eyes during all manner of prey related entanglements. That down-curved bill tapering to a point makes short work of anything that resembles flesh.
“they look so regal…” “they look so dignified and proud…” “they look so cool”
Wandering around Point Reyes with friends we found this adult Cooper’s Hawk watching the bird strewn hillside below. As high strung as they are (the Coops, not my friends) this one sat at the crest of this tree for 20 minutes… Normally we would have engaged in an epic sit-off but my role as host meant not subjecting my guests to the thrilling motionlessness of an epic sit-off. We moved on.
Near Laird’s Landing on Tomales Bay, a Common Loon called out. The sound carried over the water, echoed off rocks and returned, stretching the melancholic power of the call until it was washed over by the sound of Scoter wings thrumming in the distance. It brought me back to my Minnesota roots and a 2nd year Bald Eagle flying past only compounded the feeling.
This newly fledged female Cooper’s Hawk is mantling to show her sibling it is time to back off. The two of them have been chasing each other through the trees and play time is over. Raptors usually mantle over prey that they want to hide from others. It makes them look bigger, more threatening, and covers up their meal. So it is a bit unusual to see this behaviour from below. I’m amazed at the feather tracts on the back of the head and neck. What a moment.
Here she is transformed into a different creature. She is still keeping an eye on her sister though. There are 4 fledglings, 3 females and a male. The females are busy chasing each other and constantly begging. The male is further along – out on his own, hunting, flying with purpose as he patrols a different patch of the arboretum. I think the males develop more quickly because they are smaller. It is probably advantageous to leave the nest before your three gigantic, voracious and, fierce sisters get their act together.
Another sister gets in a little quiet flight practice near a reservoir. Photographing Coops is challenging. They are so quick and unpredictable and once they get a little sense they become nearly invisible. I never once saw the parents who keep a very low profile. I hope the kids stick around awhile.
A young Cooper’s Hawk with a pre-plucked and prepared meal from its parents.