12 February 2013

Chicken Hawks Cackling Above Carthage

Spring is subtly coming to the Carthage neighborhood of eastern Omaha, especially expressive today as the chicken hawks cackled among the trees.

There was an unexpected, notably loud cackling among the treetops heard outside, then again, but it was so unexpected that its source was uncertain. Heard again, being especially obvious to the east, and looking yonder, the hawk was seen in a flight that continued to southward of Cuming Street. It was the expected departure of this vivacious predator.

But then, suddenly, there was another similar cackle nearby, up above the street level. After moseying about a bit as if in a daze while gazing into the gray sky, there was another expressive cackle. After looking around, the source was a hawk perched up in the tree over there, down the hill to the east, along Izard Street.

This is the first instance for seeing two Cooper's Hawks in the neighborhood, potentially considering it as a place for the coming breeding season. There have been many other single birds present, usually seen with a momentary glimpse.

What is most surprising is the many-year-record indicating this species presence at the same time during years now gone. One of this sort of raptor was first seen here on 12 Feb 2004, then the 10th of the month in 2011 and 2012. And then on the 11th this year, on a Monday afternoon, to see two within the same three-day historic period.

This expresses a calendar preferable to any that might focus on holidays or other events not associated with the natural realm. A calendar indicating when the local Cooper's Hawks cackle could be heard would certainly be on the top of some birder's list of interest.

These are chicken hawks, as a residence to the north does have chickens, and from the flock of six, one was taken by a hawk. This bit of bird news was learned when one of the flocks was walking around the front yard.

If a pair decides to linger, it will certainly cause tension among the small birds. The flocks of many House Sparrows, now gathered, would face a new threat, but which would be lessened by their dispersal once it is time to nest.

A preferable option would be that the cackling hawks would set up residence, and prey only upon the starlings that steal places in trees created by the appreciated woodpeckers.

The chicken hawks are welcomed, especially if a suitable pair would decide to reside here for the summer season. A duo of Cooper's Hawks would be more exciting than a residency by American Crows. The big black birds could certainly be appreciated if they were nearby but not within Carthage. The local flocks have not yet dispersed and are still regularly seen flying past, and perhaps a few land to linger. About 75 flew past cawing along on a brisk morning. Songs of the local cardinals are adding to the a.m. melody.