Nature can be found in any backyard, with the typical being birds, squirrels, rabbits, possums and of course bugs and worms. The more unusual nature will be found in woods, forest and less populated areas but there are times when it may show up in subdivision backyards, such as a sighting of a Cooper's Hawk within the area of the Thoroughbred and Fieldcrest Crossing subdivisions.
The Cooper's Hawk is commonly named the Chicken Hawk, it was first noticed by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte and was named after William Cooper, who was the founder and naturalist of the New York Lyceum of Natural History . The Cooper's Hawk is medium in size and is of the hawk and eagle family, this bird is powerful in flight and hunts its prey by a quick stealth approach. The Cooper's habitat is around mature forest, open woodlands, wood edges, tree lined river and they nest in coniferous, deciduous, and mixed woods, so being seen in a subdivision is not uncommon because the tall trees are ideal for nesting as well as the food sources of small birds and mammals. The Cooper's nest can be seen 25-50' high in trees and they will place their nest on an existing old nest of a squirrel or larger bird and even on a clump of mistletoe. The Joe Ford Nature Park has a tree that calls home to a Copper's Hawk nest and recently Mary our volunteer stated she has seen the Cooper as well as a Red Tail Hawk, so she is wondering if the Cooper will return in March to reclaim its nest.
The Red Tail Hawk is one of the most familiar hawks, it is bulky and broad-winged and can be seen perched on poles along the road or flying over a field and is easily recognized by the reddish-brown tail. The Red Tail hunts it prey by watching from a high perch or flying over an open field and then swooping down to pick up the prey with its talons.
The Cooper and Red Tail hawk, as well as owls, falcons and eagles are some of the strongest and fastest birds and as with most raptors the females are larger and outweighs the males, which is unusual in the bird world. There is not any known reason why the female raptor is larger than the male, other than the female spends more time on her nest while the male hunts for food with this leaving her being the protector of her eggs and chicks from predators.
It's fun to see different birds and there is an event hosted by the Audubon Society called the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 15-18, 2019. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or expert bird watcher, anyone can participate and this can be done from your own backyard or you can visit the Joe Ford Nature Park. The best time for bird counting is while they feed in morning or late afternoon and if you're interested in this event more information can be found by visiting birdcount.org. If weather permits make this a morning event for children and adults by starting at the Joe Ford Nature Park, take a walk along the Green Belt and return for a picnic lunch at the Nature Park. It's fun, free and adventurous, and it easy way to enjoy nature.
Tuesday - Thursday 9am - 4pm
Friday 9am - 12pm