Cooper’s Hawk and the Robin

During the month of July, I casually monitored the progress of two young Cooper’s Hawks that fledged here at the Museum. I would sometimes see the birds through the trees hopping and flying from limb to limb, but more often I would hear them whining for food back among the pines on the north side of the path through Explore the Wild. Occasionally I saw one of the adult Cooper’s Hawks carry in a newly captured passerine to feed to the youngsters.

On July 27th both of the immature hawks were up and soaring over the the pines. The birds fell silent on the 30th on July. On Saturday, July 31 I observed one of the immature hawks fly off at my approach through the dense woods, with a bird in it’s talons.

One of the Cooper’s Hawks sailing over the pines north of the Wetlands.

On August 3, while walking through The Dinosaur Trail I noticed a scattering of feathers on the pavement. The feathers were spread across the Macadam, but a small cluster of feathers at the center of the path caught my eye.

Some of the many feathers that grabbed my attention. There were many feathers scattered across the path on the Dinosaur Trail.
One of the reddish feathers. The fly sits on what looks like a small piece of breast.

A few of the feathers still had meat attached to them. At first glance I thought that the feathers were from a female cardinal due to their reddish color. But as I looked over to the side of the path I noticed a wing, and then another.

There was little doubt that the two wings on the side of the path, as well as the other feathers scattered about, were from a robin.

amro wing
This wing is from an American Robin.

For a week or two previous, I’d been seeing family groups of robins foraging along the paths and through the woods, especially along the Dinosaur Trail and the north side of the Wetlands.

While I can’t be certain, it looks as though one of the immature Cooper’s Hawks made a kill at this spot on the Dinosaur Trail. In my mind’s eye I can visualize the hawk capturing the robin in mid air, dropping to the ground and mantling the prey. After having a quick look around to see if all was safe, it commenced to take the unfortunate robin apart. Perhaps it then flew off to the woods to the north of the Dino Trail to eat the bird.

If you see a medium sized hawk with a rather long tail adeptly coursing through the woods, or sailing over the treetops, it just might be one of the two young Cooper’s Hawks hatched and fledged here at the Museum this year. Wish the hawk luck, many of them don’t make it through their first year of life.

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