Juvenile hawks hone hunting skills in Holyoke’s Heritage State Park

The juvenile hawks from the Race Street nest take a break from chasing a squirrel that hid in a bush near the Dwight Street parking garage. (c) Greg Saulmon 2012

The little hawks that hatched at the Race Street nest aren’t so little anymore.

For over a week now, they’ve been making their final preparations to strike out on their own, using Heritage State Park as a playground to practice their hunting skills.

Don Cooper called me early on Sunday, July 1 to say that the juvenile hawks were all over the park, perching on parking meters and fences. I was in Maine at the time, and made it a priority to check in with the hawks when I returned.

I’ve spent time with them almost every day since Saturday, and it’s been fascinating to watch. Their agility has improved dramatically, and they’re finding the high perches that their parents always favored. But they’re also spending a lot of time on or near the ground, too — using clumps of leaves as dummy prey, and chasing squirrels around tree trunks.

It has been a fascinating time to watch them, with many opportunities to observe their behavior up close. This is also the first time since their nestling stage when I’ve seen the siblings spend a significant amount of time together. There’s been some good-natured roughhousing, and some lovely moments of aerial games of “tag”.

I haven’t seen either of them succeed in capturing prey yet, but that’s only a matter of time.

Below are some of the images I’ve shot over the past few days.

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  1. Roger_Paw said:

    Wow, such an amazing gallery of photos. Thank you! This is such a fun time with the juveniles, isn’t it? All the curiosity and learning what gives in their little universe.

  2. Lorrin said:

    The shot with the shadow on the brick from the bird in flight is absolutely perfect. Thanks!

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