[Tweeters] Volunteer Park, Seattle: Spotted Sandpiper and Coopers Hawk(s)

Kevin Purcell kevinpurcell at pobox.com
Tue Sep 2 11:31:07 PDT 2008

At 9am to 10am today I saw a solitary SPOTTED SANDPIPER in (not
spotted) winter/nonbreeding plumage on the reservoir edge Volunteer
Park, Seattle. It's doing the usual "teetery/wagtail" movement
apparently feeding at the edge of the water. It's "cinnamon" shoulder
patch field mark is now quite distinct

I saw a similar solitary Spotted Sandpiper (perhaps the same bird)
about 2 weeks ago at the same time of day in the same place that
caused me a little confusion until I saw the slight cinnamon patch FM
on the side of the neck/shoulder. That time it flew showing stiff
flight style and white upper wing marking.

I've been observing COOPER'S HAWKs in the park for the past two to
three weeks.

When I first saw them, 2 adults and 2 juveniles all at one time, the
youngest juvenile was a recently fledged (still had down feathers on
the head) and was rather unbalanced in perching and flight behavior
(especially in gusty winds).

The last time I saw multiple hawks together was last Wednesday with 1
adult and 2 juveniles. They were all perched together on the same
branch with two smaller and one larger. That's one adult male, a
juvenile male and a juvenile female (from their relative sizes). They
flew off to hunt in the brambles (previously described to the list).

After that I did hear two juveniles calling (pip not kek-kek-kek
calls) back and forth but didn't see them both at the same time.

This weekend I only saw single birds though I suspect from a callings
and sightings that there may still have been two birds around the
park: one was flying strongly amongst the crows trees close to the
SAAM (I've not see a juvenile do this).

I saw the juvenile eating a (large) rat on Monday and eating a
smaller rodent (possibly a rat) on Tuesday morning (today), which he
managed to drop out of the tree. Previously I'd seen him eating birds
but these seemed to be captured by the adult (e.g. I saw one exchange
of food from an adult to juvenile on a tree branch 10 days ago and
another "dropped off" prey item that the juvenile didn't come to). So
perhaps its bird hunting skills aren't quite there yet.

The juvenile was also spending some time around the reservoir on
Saturday. Drinking at the west end. His reaction to the 1 male and 2
female Mallards who paddled in his direction was curious. He watched
them get to within 3m or so then flew up to the fence. After that he
quartered over the reservoir (there were no other birds on or around
the reservoir at the time) perching up on the fence a couple of time
before returning to the one of the favored perch trees.

There seems to be a division of territory in the park between hawks
and crows.

The hawk's nest tree and the area they "hang out" (to the west of the
Amphitheater) has very few crows and I've seen no incidences of
mobbing or harassment by crows in that region. Stellar's Jays have
interacted with them a couple of times in that area.

On the few occasions I've seen a hawk at the "top of the hill", in
the trees along the road by the SAAM, the crows have taken more
interest: perching around it and cawing (but not "dive bombing") the
(adult) hawk in the trees. In a couple of occasions the hawk has gone
after an (adult) crow usually in a lower position on the tree with
some following aerobatic flight. I suspect this was more sending a
message rather than looking for prey though the Cooper's is a ambush
predator so perhaps sometimes it gets lucky. Other occasion the crows
followed a Cooper's Hawk in flight with a sharp chase through a tree
(the hawk lost the crows).

I'd like to hear from anyone else who has been watching these birds.
Kevin Purcell
kevinpurcell at pobox.com

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