Sunday, June 14, 2020

Migratory Hawks Nesting in the Neighborhood

I've been very fortunate to be able to work from home during the COVID-19 Pandemic. One side effect of this is that I'm paying much more attention to the birds closer to my house, not just the birds on Lake Creek Trail. One thing I've been able to track better is the good diversity of migratory hawks that continues to nest in our neighborhood, an increasing trend over the past 5-10 years. Here's a quick rundown of what I've seen and been able to photograph this spring and summer.

At Cedar Hurst and Broadmeade, a pair of Cooper's Hawks have a big nest that now has a couple of white fuzzy nestlings in it. Cooper's Hawks are a common winter resident in central Texas but they used to be rare or uncommon in the spring and summer. Over the last 10-15 years this has changed as they are increasingly learning how to use our neighborhoods as nesting habitat. Now they are much more common breeders here. Here's the nest on April 12:

Cooper's Hawks on Nest

And here it is on May 31:

Cooper's Hawk on Nest

I observed the nestlings earlier, but it wasn't until June 11 that I got a photo of them:

Cooper's Hawk Nestlings - 1

Mississippi Kites are learning how to use neighborhoods as nesting habitat as well. And much more recently (only in the past 3-5 years) they have started nesting here. They spend the winter in central America and the northern tip of south America. I'm thrilled that this spring and summer, sometimes sitting in my backyard I can see 5 or 6 soaring in the sky at the same time! I haven't found a nest yet, but here's a juvenile bird in flight I saw while walking down Broadmeade on June 11:

Mississippi Kite

Broad-winged Hawks increasingly nest in the neighborhood as well. Their migration is the most dramatic of our breeding migratory hawks. On their journey to and from their wintering range in south America they can sometimes been seen in flocks of tens of thousands on the Texas coast! I'm so excited that this year a pair of these migratory birds picked a tree in my front yard for their nest! I first noticed them building it way back on April 11. Here's one of them holding a twig:

Broad-winged Hawk Building Nest - 1- 1

Through the rest of April and May I could usually just barely see the female (I assume) Broad-winged Hawk sitting on the nest. She was usually watching me as I watched her. This shot is from April 12:

Broad-winged Hawk Building Nest - 2 - 1

It wasn't until June 3 that I finally saw a white fuzzy nestling:

Broad-winged Hawk Nestlings - 1 - 1

A few minutes later I saw that there were two!

Broad-winged Hawk Nestlings - 1 - 5

And one exercised its wings:

Broad-winged Hawk Nestlings - 1 - 10

By June 11 they are starting to get their darker juvenile plumage and starting to sit up straighter in the nest. (See the second bird in the bottom right of the photo below.)

Broad-winged Hawk Nestlings - 2 - 2

I'll keep watching and see when they can fly! If all goes well, I wonder where in central or south America these nestlings will call home this winter.


Melissa Macdougall said...

Oh my, this is just too cool!!!

Phyllis said...

Thank you for sharing this! So awesome!

cricket said...

Thank you; it's very exciting to see local raptor good news and these helpful photographs! Just before the shutdown in March I was walking on a Sunday morning
and came across a newly dead juvenile-looking Cooper's hawk on an access road from West 6th to West 5th, just east of Mo-Pac. Crashed into a car? I read later that something like 35% of raptors have bone fractures suggesting collision.

Sally Breed said...

WOW!!! Thanks so much for posting these. I'm going to save them for those down days I sometimes get for an immediate boost! (I have a yahoo acct a But I can't figure out how to change it below.)

Susan Andres said...

Great write up and documentation!