Tag Archives: hawk

Surprise–A Cooper’s Hawk

By Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, May 19-25, 2018

Several dozen residents joined resident leaders Judy Hyde and Susan Smith for birdwalks on both campuses earlier this month.  They saw 38 different species on the north campus, and 29 on the east.

A pleasant surprise on the north campus was a Cooper’s hawk—described as a secretive, inconspicuous species, particularly in the breeding season.

So who was Cooper?  Surprise!  William C. Cooper was a 19th century scientist who collected specimens of all kinds of animals including birds, and was one of the founders of the New York Academy of Sciences. Cooper’s friend Charles Lucien Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon) relied on one of Cooper’s specimens in 1825-33, while compiling his four-volume  American ornithology, or, The natural history of birds inhabiting the United States, not given by Wilson : with figures drawn, engraved, and coloured, from nature.  In honor of his friend, Bonaparte named “Cooper’s hawk.” Continue reading Surprise–A Cooper’s Hawk


Staying Put at Lathrop: Red Tailed Hawks

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 2-8, 2017

A few weeks, ago, I wrote about barred owls, who stay put here in winter, rather than migrating.  Another bird that stays put in our neck of the woods is the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). It can stay put because it eats mammals who also stay put during winter, like chipmunks, rabbits, mice, voles, snakes, and birds. But even with the abundance of prey that Lathrop land offers, a red-tail has many problems to solve, and more than half of healthy fledglings fail to reach adulthood.

First problem: FIND the prey.  Red-tails hunt by perching and pouncing.  A hawk has to know that a perch on a pole over a parking lot is less productive than an open field.  A bird feeder is a wonderful Continue reading Staying Put at Lathrop: Red Tailed Hawks

Giving Thanks at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2017

At Thanksgiving feasts, family members sometimes take turns saying what they’re thankful for.  So I asked our Lathrop family of creatures:

A chickadee:  Thanks for putting in native plants near the Inn and in some cottage gardens.   I need about 6,000 insects, mostly caterpillars, to raise my brood next spring. I expect you’ve read the scientific findings that I know from experience: the native plants in your gardens will provide many more caterpillars than the old alien plants did.

A hawk:  Thanks for not mowing our Lathrop meadows until late autumn.  When you used to mow in mid-summer, you destroyed the cover for mice, voles, and other creatures that I needed to build up Continue reading Giving Thanks at Lathrop

Lathrop Hawks on the Move–or Not

by Barbara Walvoord

(First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, October 29, 2016)

A few days ago, I saw a red-tail hawk (Buteo Jamaicensis) on the move: it dove for a songbird that was on the ground–and missed.  The little bird shot away to the side, while the hawk pulled up like a plane whose landing is suddenly aborted.

Hawks have to be on the move to eat. Red tails circle or perch, then dive onto their prey with talons outstretched.  Two hawks sometimes collaborate to catch a squirrel: one hawk swoops down on one side of the tree, and, when the squirrel scoots over to the other side of the tree, the other hawk swoops down and snatches it. Continue reading Lathrop Hawks on the Move–or Not

Life Amid the Roses

by Barbara Walvoord

In our East campus wetland, bobcat tracks often follow our snowshoe tracks for long distances. But the other day, the bobcat left the trail rather quickly and headed straight off, very purposefully, breaking new snow, its paws sinking sometimes 6 inches deep, over a little hill, through bushes, under pine trees, on and on. I followed its tracks on my snowshoes.

Finally, the bobcat came to an area with huge thickets of multiflora rose. It’s rabbit city: rabbit droppings, rabbit tracks in the snow, and rabbit burrows everywhere.

One of the main foods of the bobcat is–rabbit!

Our bobcat dodged through the dense, thorny thicket from one rabbit hole to another, doubling back and twisting around. Rose thorns hooked my pants as I tried to follow.

I kept looking for pounce marks, snow flung around in a struggle, some blood or fur. Nope. As far as I could tell, Bre’r Rabbit escaped this time, and Bre’r Bobcat went away hungry.

Sister Hawk (or was it Sister Owl?), however, did not go home hungry. A set of rabbit tracks stopped short, with a scuffle in the snow and some telltale wing marks. This photo by Sharon Grace tells the story.



Impervious to their neighbor’s fate, small birds were fluttering and chattering away amid the roses.

rose thicket 026

The Asian invasive multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) that so dominates this piece of our land crowds out native plants, creating a Continue reading Life Amid the Roses