I’ve always loved birds, but I was never the kind of serious birder that would spend hours in the field patiently observing birds. I just observed them as I encountered them. I remember the day a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk landed in my yard. I really had no idea what kind of hawk it was–a red-tail was really the only hawk I knew. Plus, identifying juveniles often throws me for a loop. So I took the picture to a birder I know, and she immediately identified it for me. “See the yellow eye,” she said, “that’s a juvenile.”
Then one spring I started regularly seeing a Cooper’s Hawk in the woods near my home. I watched it catch a meal
and observed a pair actively building a nest.
That’s when I first became the type of birder that went looking for the birds and not just waiting for them to come to me. I watched that pair of Cooper’s Hawks all through the nesting season. It was wonderful to be able to go into the woods and almost be guaranteed that I would see them.
I didn’t see the Cooper’s Hawks nesting near my home in subsequent springs. I still see them occasionally, but a sighting isn’t guaranteed every time I go into the woods. Recently, I was doing dishes when my daughter asked, “what kind of bird is that–the big one?” I was pretty sure she was looking at a cardinal or a blue jay, and was shocked to look out and see a Cooper’s Hawk sitting in our backyard.
It’s always thrilling to see these beautiful birds of prey. Although I think I appreciated it much more than the songbirds at my feeder that day!