Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Very Poor "Digi-scoping" Pictures . . . but more importantly, a Sad Story!

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a friend of mine, Laurie, who I met while going to school at Western Technical.  She works there.  She has a fascination for hawks, and wanted to let me know that she, "had some red tails nesting in a tree outside her home".  I responded back that I thought it was more likely a pair of Coopers Hawks, or Sharp Shins, but that I would come and visit and check it out.  My visit did confirm they were Coopers Hawks.  This is not too uncommon in the neighborhoods of La Crosse . . . as I know of another Coopers Hawk nest near the home of the lady that I house-mated with while going to school.  These birds are completely habituated to the suburb, and dine on all the starlings and pigeons the city has to offer.
I returned about a week later, this time with my camera equipment, along with my spotting scope, to try and catch some of the action.  I'm new to my equipment, and not particularly proficient at using it.  I've also determined that the weak link in my equipment is my camera.  **SIGH**  I really should get a better one.  Nonetheless . . . I was able to take some pictures.  The male is above, holding some tasty item he had captured, and while hanging around the nest for well over an hour or more, we saw him do a food exchange several times with his mate . . . along with his reward . . . multiple noisy copulations.
The female was on the nest.  I cannot know if she had already begun to lay eggs, but she certainly was sticking pretty close to the nest . . . . although not apparently brooding down onto any possible eggs.  Perhaps she was just sticking close to guard them until her clutch was complete.

I took lots and lots of pictures of her.  Some had a lot closer vantage, but were blurry.  Some were clear, but too dark.  The view through my lens and my scope were pretty awesome . . . up close and personal . . . and I was able to share the view with my friend Laurie, and with Christina, who I had invited to come along to view the birds.  The view we had, however, did not translate into the pictures I took.  We watched, and I attempted to take pictures, until it got late and I needed to get going home.

Over the weekend . . . a very intense series of storms came through our area.  I heard that an unconfirmed tornado touched down in a section of Southern La Crosse.  I got a message on Sunday evening from Laurie that the nest tree had been knocked down . . . along with a lot of other trees in the area.  Here is a link to the local newspaper with more pictures of the storm damage.

Laurie indicates that she has only seen one of the birds, not both.  It is possible one of them was killed in the storm.  Definitely, the storm brought an end to their breeding attempt.

Unlike Joplin, MO, La Crosse's storm, and the same one that blew through rural areas of Minnesota, and then touched down a tornado in Sparta , Wiscosin, did not leave as much damage.  Certainly, homes will need to be repaired, cars will need to have hail damage and windows replaced, but for the most part, it is my understanding no homes were completely destroyed.  Many old trees were knocked down.  To my knowledge, no lives were lost here.  The same can not be said of Joplin . . . and my heart goes out to those living there through their tragedy.

For the hawks . . . . they are not an endangered species . . . . and they will pick up again next year, to include finding a new mate if one was lost.  They do not shed tears . . . but instead will spend the summer off nest duty from egg brooding and eyas raising.  It is unfortunate though . . . as I would have enjoyed going back and taking more pictures of their private lives.

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