Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coopers Hawk Mating Ritual

Following is a fascinating description of the Coopers Hawk mating ritual which was sent to us by guest contributor Jason G. Harrison.

All of these images were taken over a 1 week time frame, beginning with April 3, 2009.  I spent nearly 6 days observing this very active pair.  I observed several matings and I was very surprised with what I saw.  The male would fly out from the nest site in search of food.  He would very quickly catch a bird or small mammal, dispatch it, and then fly to a nearby tree close to the nest where the female was sitting.  He would carefully place the captured meal on a nice sized branch and fly off while calling out.

The female would then leave the nest and fly directly to the meal placed on the limb.  She began eating the meal.  Soon thereafter, the male would then return, and land directly next to her.  He would then mount her and mate while she ate the meal.

I observed this several times.  On one occasion, the male brought in a bird it had killed and like before, laid it upon a branch and called out and flew off.  The female flew right in, like always, and looked at the meal in front of her.  The male did not “clean” up the kill this time.  In all my other observations of this ritual, the male had just about perfectly removed every feather from the carcass before placing it out for the female to eat.  She looked at the feather-covered meal in front of her and she then called out and flew back to the nest. 

The male returned, and began cleaning the feathers off of the carcass.  Once done, he then called out again and the female returned.  She quickly accepted the meal this time and like before, as soon as she began eating, the male returned and mated with her.

Due to the location of the nest site, and the impending foliage that was growing thicker every day, I soon lost sight of the nest and could no longer observe them.  The thick canopy of the trees prevented any further study of the nest and this wonderful pair.

Story and photos submitted by guest contributor Jason G. Harrison.  


Sharron Montgomery-Tella said...

amazing observations!

Anonymous said...

I saw a male attract a female for mating by making baby bird sounds. THAT was flabbergasting (and hilarious).