I thought it was love. . . in reality we were only being used!
For nearly two months a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperi) has been in the cottonwood trees around our house. As time passed it seemed tamer. We did not disturb it. This hawk (I assume it is the same one, however, I could be totally wrong.) would sit and watch us as we went about our normal chores and activities. A few days ago Leonard was working on a little project right below the hawk. Mister Hawk calmly watched while Leonard hammered and made quite a racket.
When we would go into the pastures or walk along the hedgerows this Cooper’s hawk would fly ahead of us, landing on a fencepost, bird house or other convenient perch. He would allow us to get within a few feet before flying and perching ahead of us again. I was rather excited – the hawk liked us! He followed us around the property.
Alas! It suddenly dawned on me that Leonard and I were simply being used. The tall grass is home to hundreds of quail and other songbirds that find food and shelter there. As we move around the birds are flushed from their safe haven. The Cooper’s hawk was waiting for us to scare some birds. As they fly away from us, the hawk can attempt to catch a meal. He was staying close to us to be ready to pounce. Supper was the hawk’s only motive. I am not certain what “thinking” goes into the hawk’s following Leonard and I about. It seems quite clever.
I was concerned at first that we were leading the quail and songbirds to their death. The hawks are going to remain in the area and so are the other birds. And they all will continue to eat. We are simply part of the natural drama unfolding about us each day.
These Cooper’s hawk pictures were all taken on our property (Modoc County CA). In one the hoarfrost can be seen on the branches. It was a very cold morning.