Hawks in Dunn Woods

Cooper's Hawk nest in Dunn's Woods

For several years I have been watching the Cooper’s Hawks in Dunn Woods, right behind Bryan Hall on the IU campus. I first heard them in the spring/summer of 2007, the juveniles were in a couple of different trees calling for their parents to bring food, their calls could be mis-heard as some jays, but when I saw them flying from tree to tree.

I’ve followed them through a series of 3 different nests in the woods, then move every couple of years. One year I did not hear the young ones, nor did I see them, I assumed the eggs or chicks were damaged during an early spring storm that blew through with hail and high winds.

This week I’ve seen them flying back and forth to the nest tree, watched them as they shift around will sitting on the nest. Dad will sometimes fly in close and land in a nearby tree, call a bit, then fly to the nest, then on again for another mission. From the sounds of all the other birds in the woods, and the abundance of squirrels and chipmunks, I am assuming they are not hunting there at this time.

I can’t prove it, but I think they have found that it pays to wait and let their fledglings hunt in the abundant, and relative safe, confines of the woods later in the year. Are birds that smart? Do they want to keep relative peace with their neighbors while the kids are young? I’ve seen a murder of crows chase a hawk out of the woods, but I’ve yet to see or hear them attack the nest.

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