Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 28, 2011

Death by talons

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:02 pm
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With the mercury heading toward 102 degrees, an early start was called for; time to head down Courthouse Wash to find Cooper’s Hawk nests. They should have babies by now.

A mass of feathers are all that remains of a Cooper's Hawk that has been in this nest for many years. Double-click it.

Nest 1D didn’t look occupied, so I set up my spotting scope for a better view. On further examination, it was NOT empty. Feathers were scattered around… and a foot. And what appeared to be the top of a head. Pretty much a violent crime scene, right here in our national parks. The length of the feathers told me it had to be an adult bird, and the colors were right for a Cooper’s Hawk.

I radioed my boss to notify her of my find, knowing she’d want to investigate for herself since the nest was quite accessible. Soon Tricia and I were scouring the nearby side canyon to see if we could find any sign of the only predator that would attack an adult Cooper’s Hawk on its nest. No Great Horned Owl nest, or even a single pellet, was found, although one has been documented a couple miles downstream. We assumed one had dismembered the Cooper’s and carried the meaty parts to feed its own young.

And that’s all I have to say today. Nature can be grisly.

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