Add hawk committee
Wednesday September 21st 2011, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Wildlife

You only get to turn 80 once and yesterday was a milestone day for my mother-in-law.  So I’m going to say it out loud here, too: Happy Birthday, MomH!

The Cooper’s hawk caught my attention this morning with a successful hunt. This time he (she?) took its kill up to a tree and disappeared just below the center of that first picture there (no, that’s a leaf, he’s behind there), the occasional small bit of fluff floating down in the breeze.

He swooped through again about three hours later, highly unusual in the middle of the day and it was a hot one at that. He perched in the olive tree (second picture), fanning out his feathers and turning to catch a breeze between them just so. That’s his tail below the limb. I did not see a second hawk at the time, although it sure looks like it from the camera–if it is, it’s standing behind the chopped end of that big limb and leaning left and up towards its mate.

And a few hours after that, one zoomed in a half circle around the first birdfeeder, straightened, immediately did a right-angle turn and swooped its 31″ wingspan within the 10′ foot-wide foot-of-the-L part of the covered patio and around Kim’s feeder just perfectly so and back out to a tree. And then, before even two minutes were up, he did it again! With a pause somehow at the end of that last circle, as if he were trying to scare a squirrel out from hiding. (And there is one that darts under the barbecue smoker over there. Clearly, it’s not fooling anybody.) But wow, what an air show!

My first thought was, now come on, you know no prey flew in there in between; are you really that impatient and hungry?

But the next time Coopernicus dropped all pretense of stealth: he flew to the most exposed branch jutting out into the yard from up high, the sun radiating off his chestnut front, as if to proclaim to all the world–

–and that’s when I finally got it.

Glenn Stewart of UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group has mentioned that at fall equinox, birds display some of the same behaviors they do at spring equinox, and that the peregrine falcons, specifically, make a particular show of guarding and announcing their established territory.

My yard was being announced as off limits to all comers.

And they’d been challenged on it yesterday. Yesterday, I had a small crowd of crows fly overhead for the first time in a long time and the Cooper’s pounced on prey in front of me not long after. Those crows will attack hawk young in the nest in the spring–so today I guess they’re not taking any chances: not of the crows and definitely not of any other hawks. From that king-of-the-mountain limb, something overhead bothered him and he flew off after it and over my head, not at hunting speed; that flight definitely felt different. Just don’t get in his way.

Dinnertime, a little later–and there, a Cooper’s, yet again, and away to the left. And again and to the right! Swoop! Swoop!

I had a shawl I’d knitted out of random baby alpaca laceweight a few years ago that I’d lost some of my notes for and some of what I did find was fairly scrambled, definitely not the copy meant for keeps. I’d been wanting to reknit it, definitely writing the pattern down and writing it right this time. It was going to be a lot of work. I’ve avoided it all this time.

Today I sat down with my birdwatching and my Lisa Souza baby alpaca laceweight in Sapphire, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous, in the color of the deepening sky well before the dark, and worked that pattern out.  I have written it. I am knitting it to test it. I’ve got it.

8 Comments so far
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This would make you the Birdmom of Alcatraz?

Comment by Lynn 09.22.11 @ 4:23 am

The hawk was doing a birthday dance for your MIL! Happy birthday to her.

Comment by Channon 09.22.11 @ 6:48 am

I was just thinking “Birdwoman”.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 09.22.11 @ 7:43 am

lovely word pictures! I can tell that fall is coming here — it’s a lot cooler in the morning when I let the dog out in the yard, and for the first time in weeks I saw half a dozen robins (where have they been?)

you are the birdwoman for sure!

Comment by Bev 09.22.11 @ 8:34 am

Do you really live in Palo Alto? Sounds like out in the wild. Whoosh! Swish!

Comment by Don Meyer 09.22.11 @ 8:46 am

I’ve been meaning to tell you, I was up on the Marin headlands a couple of weeks ago, and I encountered a huge group of hawkwatchers, identifying and counting migrating hawks. I thought of you immediately! (Of course I couldn’t recall exactly where I’d been, so needed the assistance of the internet to figure it out!)

Comment by RobinH 09.22.11 @ 10:33 am

If I’d been thinking of these as your hawks, I believe now I’m wrong. You are clearly their human.

Comment by twinsetellen 09.22.11 @ 9:30 pm

You won’t have any birds/squirrels left in your yard, at this rate! But then, I suppose it’s probably nice to share a kingdom with a bird of prey.

Comment by Erica 09.24.11 @ 4:34 pm

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