Temperatures getting hotter, baby Cooper's hawks are hitting the - Tucson News Now

Temperatures getting hotter, baby Cooper's hawks are hitting the ground

A young Cooper's Hawk with feathers and white down showing. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department) A young Cooper's Hawk with feathers and white down showing. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
Alternate nest option. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department) Alternate nest option. (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is reminding the public that as temperatures get hotter, they may see more baby Cooper's hawks start hitting the ground.  This is not a bad thing despite what the bird may look like, as many young Cooper's hawks at this stage are old enough to learn to fly. 

According to AZGFD, this annual “nest jumping” behavior is unique to Cooper’s Hawks among birds of prey.
  
“The young hawks are not in the danger that people think.  They sometimes fall victim to bobcats, but are pretty safe from most everything except people and cars,” said local wildlife rehabilitator Kathie Schroder in a news release. 

This process of the birds being on the ground, is known as fledging and results in local wildlife rehabilitation centers being swamped with calls from concerned citizens about these birds.  According to AZGFD parents will continue to feed the young while they are on the ground and these young birds will soon learn to fly.  The young hawks are even able to use their talons to go from branch to branch to get back up the tree if they choose to.  

Many of these young hawks are feathered but may still have white down sticking out, and they are able to run in a bent forward position and may do so if approached.  

According to AZGFD if a young hawk is more white down than feathers and does not attempt to get away when approached, it may have been knocked out of its nest by the wind.  These young birds may be placed in an alternate nest, which can be built by the person who found the bird. 

An alternate nest may be built as follows: 

  • Securely attach a container, such as a milk crate or laundry basket, to the tree where its nest is located.  Place an old soft towel in the bottom.  Or, attach the container to a very nearby tree providing shade.
  • Place the container about shoulder height. 
  • Put the young hawk in the new nest. The parents will feed it where it is. 

Adult Cooper's hawks are extremely protective of their young and before they leave the nest the adults may 'dive bomb' humans or large animals that are just passing by the nest.  AZGFD advices keeping disturbances, including pets, away from the nest area if there is one nearby a home. 

Once the young are on the ground, this protective 'dive bomb' behavior stops, giving the public the mistaken impression the young have been abandoned. However, parents will still be feeding the young on the ground, and will encourage the young hawks to climb back up the tree or even try to fly.    

Leaving the birds in place or providing an alternate nest is immensely preferable to taking them to a rehabber or a bird sanctuary.  

"They need to be raised by their parents so they can learn how to catch prey like other birds on-the-fly," said Schroder. "People, even rehabbers, cannot teach them that.  However, if one is actually injured, a rehabber can help."

A list of rehabbers may be found at: http://azgfd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=1a4132aaa0204fb0bb0b972b5f291607, but every effort must be made to make sure the bird is not able to take care of itself before it is taken to a rehab center. 

Cooper’s Hawks are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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