The Usual Suspects


Things have been relatively quiet for the last few weeks with only one owl calling and making occasional nest inspection visits. I've not heard anything at all from the Cooper's Hawks since June 18th, when they both entered the owl's primary roosting area and spent the next hour making their loudest kek-kek calls. I could not see what they were harassing, but assume that it was an owl. I can think of no other creature that would rate such a prolonged scolding.

Thanks to the many OwlCam fans who have communicated their own experiences with disappearing Hawks, I now have a list of suspects:

1. The owls may have found and attacked the nest in the darkness when the hawks would be at a substantial disadvantage.

2. The red-tailed hawk that Ace drove away a few days before the chick's disappearance may have returned at a time when both adults were away from the nest.

3. Ravens were reported to have wiped out a  cooper's hawk's nest and I assume that the slightly smaller crows that are so plentiful here are capable of doing the same.

4. A fisher or raccoon may have climbed the tree and taken the chicks. While fishers are not as common as raccoons in this area, they are more likely to find and attack a nest that is sixty feet up. I consider these climbing predators somewhat less likely than the flying suspects because I was very careful to stay at least seventy-five feet away from the nest tree to avoid leaving a human scent for them to follow.

In summary, there are many possible explanations for the chick's demise and we can only guess what actually happened. It is, however, highly unusual for a one-year-old female such as Emma to nest at all and it was quite an accomplishment for her to bring the chicks as far as she did. Since Cooper's Hawk's are known to nest in the same area year-after-year, it is quite possible that Ace and a more experienced Emma will return to try again next spring. As I write this account, the sun is setting and the jays and robins are harassing an owl that is trying to get an early start with its hunting. This has been happening regularly for the last two weeks.


Back To: 1999 Adventures