Talon News - Good Local News

By Rene Daugherty
Special to TALON 



Mama Goshawk coming in to feed the new chicks.

Photos and Story by Rene Daugherty, Special to TALON

Earlier this past spring, while exercising my large dog, I happened to spot a nesting site that has been specially constructed atop a utility pole near a well site that has recently been closed/reclaimed. It is quite a substantial structure built from half of a wooden power line spool about five feet in diameter mounted on two cross beams attached to opposite sides of the pole. To give a nest a solid anchor, a square about 4' by 4' and 6" high has been placed on top. When I first noticed it there was a nest inside the square but no birds.

It got my attention, and I go out that way fairly frequently with my dog, so I started keeping an eye on it. Fairly soon I noticed that two large birds had taken up residence. When I first saw them, one--the larger female--was in the nest and the smaller male was sitting in a tree close by. When I got home I got out my bird Book and identified them as Northern Goshawks. Once I had identified them I was able to get on the internet and learn a bit about them. They are a large raptor that is somewhat rare and often difficult to see as they mostly nest in the very tops of large trees in dense forests. They are quite fast and agile and thus prized for falconry. They live mainly on small mammals and other birds. Usually they lay clutches of two to four eggs.

I continued to watch them and it quickly became clear that the female was on the eggs while the male was doing the hunting. As time passed there was more activity around the nest and a further change in which the smaller male now guarded while the female went off on her own. Clearly the eggs had hatched.

I have been trying to get a look at the chicks but without much luck. From a distance I have seen one small head peeking above the level of the nest but when I get closer the guarding parent tells them to get down and any photography has proved impossible. I stay inside my car when I go close as they have made it clear that they do not like people around--they clearly don't know that I am only good for two steps on a ladder. I have never seen more than one head at a time and have finally concluded that there is only one surviving chick.

I wanted to find out more about the nest site so I called BP in Durango. I ended up speaking with a gentleman named Andy Hawk (of all people) who confirmed that the well did belong to BP, who closed out and reclaimed the well site itself, but said that they did not build the nest site. Mr. Hawk said this was done by a local bird group sometime back. (A look at Google Earth confirmed that it had indeed been there pre-closure--I had just never noticed before this spring.) Mr. Hawk could not be more specific about the group that built the site so if anyone who reads this knows more, I and TALON would be most interested in hearing from you.


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