Soon after we moved to Ipswich a dozen years ago, we observed a couple of hawks building a large nest in the tall pine trees near our house. Our friend Jim Berry that they were Cooper’s Hawks, which were once one of the most common hawks in New England. Since the banning of DDT in 1972, Cooper’s Hawk populations are recovering.
That first pair of Cooper’s Hawks did not appear to be successful in raising a brood, and they disappeared after a month or two. They returned the next year, but with the same outcome. We didn’t see them on a regular basis after that, but early this spring a pair of Cooper’s Hawks arrived, and this time nested in the tall pines behind our house. There’s been a lot of excitement in those trees, and now they are accompanied by two or three juveniles who have almost reached full size. The young hawks are very playful, enjoy flying over our house, and are not very shy. Last week I observed a juvenile on the pool fence, looking at the feeder. This morning, three Cooper’s stood sentinel on the fence. They were being entertained by a group of squirrels, and occasionally gave chase.
Young Cooper’s Hawks remain together near the nest for the rest of the summer, learning to hunt on their own. They will overwinter in the the central and southern United States, Cooper’s Hawks breed after they reach two or three years old, and pairs typically return to the same nesting area year after year.