While cooper's hawks are reported to share incubation duties, the hawk pictured here is getting no relief. It is the only bird that I have seen in the nest. Its only escapes from this duty come when its mate calls from the distance every couple of hours. I assume that the short trips that it makes in response to these calls are for food, but none is brought back to the nest. Based on this behavior, I will assume that the hawk I am watching is the female, but will need to see them together to confirm this. On returning from these trips, she follows an unusual flight pattern. She flies low among the trees until reaching the nesting tree and then makes a steep vertical climb to reach the nest. This is probably done to prevent enemies from following her to the nest. While I have no way of knowing how long she had been incubating when I discovered the nest on May 7th, cooper's hawks follow a timetable for rearing young that is similar to that of owls: Incubation takes about thirty days, brooding about two weeks, and fledging occurs when they are about a month old. The young hawks also have a tendency to climb up onto the sides of the nest and onto nearby branches before they can fly. I expect to see a substantial increase in activity and perhaps even some visits from the other hawk after the eggs hatch.
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