Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Education of Oz

The distant sounds of crows, circling around some unfortunate soul, guided my kayak as I approached the Union Bay Natural Area. The sight of gadwalls in flight momentarily diverted my attention.

Drawing closer to the crows it became evident that the object of their affection was a young hawk.

Presumably a young male Cooper's Hawk, or possibly a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, who in any case looked no larger than the crows. 

The hawk may even have been smaller, but it made up for its lack of size with its acrobatic maneuvers. The photo is a bit distant, but the hawk's body is flying upside down, with its head twisted right side up. It seems the crow is having second thoughts.

The crow decides to vacate the area.

The chase is on. 

It is somehow reassuring to see a crow being harassed.

Finally, the hawk grew tired of the game.  The hawk flew away to land among among smaller trees and bushes.

To my surprise I noticed that the young hawk was not alone. A relatively mature female Cooper's Hawk sat nearby patiently watching.

Only her head moved as she tracked the movement of potential food sources.

Ultimately she would move enough to expose a band on her leg with the code "2V". Yesterday I learned from Ed Deal that this bird was banded by Martin Muller near her nest at the University of Washington near the end of June. She was still in her juvenile plumage at the time so she is just a second year bird. Not only have her feathers changed, but her eyes have changed color as well.

This younger bird is one of two birds that were following her around. Did you notice the lighter color of this young bird's eyes?

For a brief moment the two young birds were close enough to be photographed together…

...as they watch the female moving among tight branches just a few feet off the ground. 
Note: It is also interesting to compare the striped coloring on the chest of this young bird…

…with the barred coloring on the chest of a mature bird from earlier this summer.

Eventually, one of the young birds tries to help. If you look carefully the female and one of the young birds can be seen moving among the branches. You must admit their camouflage is rather impressive.

It turns out that one of the younger birds had been banded by Martin Muller in Ravenna Park at the end of July. If you look close you can see the code "OZ". 

My assumption is that the two young birds were hatched in the female's nest this spring on the UW Campus and that she is leading them from one location to the next to show them how and where to hunt. Maybe the interlude with the crows was just a bit of impromptu flight training. In any case, it would seem it all contributes to the education of Oz.

On Another Note:

This bird was spotted yesterday, sitting in the sun, at the Union Bay Natural Area. Can you guess what type of bird this is? If so please leave a comment below. Thank you!

Have a great day on Union Bay…where nature lives in the city!



  1. I just wanted to thank you for creating and maintaining this blog. Although I no longer live near Union Bay, I feel as if I'm still able to keep up with the 'news', and your photographs are a pleasure to look at.

    1. You are welcome. Thank you for keeping up with life on Union Bay!

  2. This blog is amazing. I have shared it with friends all over. Thank you for hanging out down there and getting so many astounding shots!
    As for guessing this bird... some kind of goldfinch, or lark? I am not well-versed in bird ID...

    1. Very good! I am planning to share my guess in the next post, but a very good guess.

    2. I've perused (with GLEE) your previous and subsequent posts, but have missed your "sharing your guess" on this fluffy chap. Thank you so much for imparting your knowledge, fabulous photography and 'pure bird joy' so freely!

    3. Thank you for the kind words and the reminder. I do believe the bird is a finch. I just made a note to include more photos and explain why in my next post. Thanks again!

  3. Those are amazing pictures. The resolution is fine enough to read print on a band!? Wow!

    I think the bird may be a lesser goldfinch.

    1. Thank you. Over time my camera and lens have evolved and the resolution has improved. You may want to check out the 2012 post, on Sept 16th, called "The Fastest Birds of Earth". The resolution wasn't quite as good but the story line is very interesting. Good guess by the way.