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Young hawks could be seen on the ground as they learn to fly

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 13:24:18-04

More homeowners are beginning to see Cooper's Hawks on the ground near their homes but the Arizona Game and Fish department says this is normal behavior this time of year. 

As temperatures climb above 100 degrees, young hawks are jumping their nests and learning to fly, a process known as fledging. 

Local wildlife rehabilitators like AZGFD get many calls from people concerned about the hawks on the ground, but AZGFD says the birds are able to use their talons to go back up the tree if they want to. 

Young hawks have feathers but may still have fluffy white down sticking out between feathers. If the hawks are approached, they are able to run and may also bend forward while doing so.

If you see a hawk more downy than feathered and it does not run away when you approach it, it may have fallen out of the nest. AZGFD says if this is the case, the hawk can be placed in an alternate nest, which can be built as follows:

  • Securely attach a container, such as a milk crate or laundry basket, to the tree where its nest is located or a nearby tree providing shade.   Place an old soft towel in the bottom.
  •  Place the container about shoulder height.
  •  Put the young hawk in the new nest. The parents will feed it where it is.

Before the hawks leave the nest, the parents could be protective and will "dive bomb" humans or animals passing below the nest. Keep pets and other disturbances away from the area. 

 It is very important the young hawks are not bothered unless they are injured or orphaned. When the young are on the ground, the protective behavior of the parents may cease, this does not mean they have been abandoned. Often, the parents are still feeding the young on the ground and will help them climb back in the tree and learn to fly. 

“The young hawks are not in the danger that people think.  They sometimes fall victim to bobcats, but are pretty safe from most everything except people and cars,” said local wildlife rehabilitator. Kathie Schroder, “They need to be raised by their parents so they can learn how to catch prey like other birds on-the-fly.  People, even rehabbers, cannot teach them that.  However, if one is actually injured, a rehabber can help.”

If you find a young hawk who may be in need of help, click here for a list of rehabbers in Arizona.