Keeping yourself entertained while your parents are hunting is a struggle for a first-year Cooper's Hawk.
One can only stretch and twist, bounce and bob for so long before it becomes boring.
I discovered two young Cooper's Hawk siblings in Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One examined my every move while the other lost interest in me quickly.
Only able to fly short distances and unpracticed at hunting, they mark time together in a narrow park ravine.
With nothing to do, but wait to be fed, this is a good opportunity to explore one's own body...grooming is important. Grooming removes dirt, debris and parasites, along with realigning the feather shaft for airworthiness.
People watching helped pass time, too.
If people and dogs stay on the path the Cooper's Hawks were content to hang around, provided a respectable distance was maintained.
But, I strayed one step too close.
That immediately prompted rethinking the margin of safety in the sibling minds.
Would they accept me?
The answer was 'no'.
They both flew away.
I would have enjoyed their company for longer, but it wasn't up to me.
I had all the pictures I was going to get this day.
(CORRECTION: I'm told the last three photographs in this story are not a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, but instead a juvenile Merlin. A Merlin has a faint malar (mustache) and a Merlin's tail is slightly different. I trust this is the case and I am noting it here to reflect that fact. The diet of the Merlin and the Cooper's Hawk is similar, with the Merlin taking other birds, mostly. Thanks to Todd Fellenbaum for sharing his knowledge of birds.)
But, I found juvenile Merlin in Theinsville Village Park, also in September.
He was quite agreeable with having his picture taken. He posed in a tall tree for longer than I cared to remain.
He seems to be giving me the equivalent of a high five, even though he doesn't have the digits for it. I doubt he knows the meaning of the gesture and had little to celebrate quite yet anyway.
He too was waiting to be fed.
He is too young to hunt. He's safe in the park while his parents find food for him. His father has provided nearly all the food for his mother and him for the past ninety days.
His care will continue until he's able to hunt the Merlin's main food...other birds and small rodents.
He watches the people below as well as the fish in the river. Poised for action yet still lacking the skills of a hunter, he never-the-less displays the potential of a powerful falcon.
(Click any picture to enlarge.)
Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Allen Sibley