Friday, January 28, 2011


One of the reasons I love getting outdoors is that nature always has a surprise in store. On a day like today, I thought that temperatures approaching seventy degrees were good enough on their own accord. Nature had more goodness in store though! After a super fast oil change I had time for a walk. I stopped off at the Coal Creek corridor east of Louisville and savored the beautiful afternoon on a birdless walk. Just after passing under Hwy 287 I found a likely reason, the juvenile Cooper's Hawk (below) was silhouetted in the fork of a tree, and remained there while I swung around it following the path in a wide arc. As I moved back towards the hawk at a better angle on the opposite side from where I had originally approached I got what I was hoping for, a gap in the heavy branches and better lighting. I took a few shots, (not posted), and was looking to move closer to the creek for a better angle at the bird. I am not sure what made me look up, but I found myself just a few feet from momma Cooper's Hawk, (above). I had to take a few shots, and then turned and withdrew slowly to a less threatening position.

Fortunately it seemed that mom had just eaten, and was also enjoying the warm afternoon, stretching and preening for 20 minutes while I watched and shot. I had withdrawn to a busy trail, and was completely accepted by the adult hawk at a still close range. I couldn't believe it. As I watched from the open the mother was joined in the same tree by the juvenile (pictured above). They vocalized a bit, and eventually a dog walker approached and the juvenile decided to withdraw to the far side of the creek. The adult hawk had no issues remaining though. While passing dogs still earned her full attention, the constant human traffic seemed to have her completely at her ease with me.

Sometimes birds are just entertaining. I could have sworn she was looking for a lost set of car keys.

The Coop's may have just been well fed. They were uncharacteristically accepting of my presence, and I saw only a lone Blue Jay in their area. Even the jay gave them a wide berth and scolded as it made its way through the area. I had to travel well back past my starting point before I saw smaller birds enjoying the nice day. Eurasian Collared Doves, Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches and Song Sparrows had all grouped at what must have been a safe distance and appeared to be trying to make the most of their break from the normal winter temps.

I enjoyed my surprise of a Cooper's Hawk sitting over my shoulder. I'm just glad that my first look at that beautiful bird didn't mean that I had been listed on its lunch menu!

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic episode! You were indeed very fortunate that they let you get and stay so close. Don't you love it when that happens!