A pair of Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii) nested near my home. I knew they were raising young ones when I saw them flying back and forth with prey. But I never could find the nest despite traipsing through the woods in a desperate search. (I’ll note I did at least confirm the presence of ticks during these jaunts, although I never located their nest either.)
Yet over the past several weeks I’ve seen the juvenile hawks flying to and fro, unsuccessfully hunting squirrels along with everything else that moved, and being quite boisterous and obvious. I’ve taken their photos before, albeit not under ideal circumstances or at a time allowing me to see all three of them at once. That all changed on a hot afternoon.
I first spied two of them sitting in a tree. Too far away for any photos of respect, I dove into the woods and made my way toward them.
Obviously they heard me coming. Only when they moved to different perches did the third one appear from its hiding place in the thick foliage nearby. But it chose one of the best places to land: right in front of me.
Another one landed behind some small limbs and leaves. Hiding place or not, it made for a great view.
At no point was I fooled into thinking I would sneak up on one of them, get into the perfect view for the perfect shot. They watched me like… Well, like hawks.
That’s the one I named Scruffy. It was disheveled, wet from some encounter with the water that left it constantly trying to dry off.
When it flitted to another tree, I realized it must have fallen in the water during a failed hunting attempt (much like the very bad squirrel hunting from a week or so ago). Afterward, it tried its best to look dangerous and menacing despite the unkempt feathers and occasional drip of water.
No matter its unsavory appearance, I found it intriguing and majestic.
Meanwhile, its siblings retreated into thick woods until I moved far enough away for their comfort. So I left them in peace.