Urban Hawks

by Sue Ann Kendall

Those of you who don’t know me in any other context may not realize that I spend half my time in Austin, where I work as a Senior Instructional Experience Strategist (what??) at a software company. I like where I work, because there’s a lovely xeriscaped courtyard full of mostly native plants, nice areas to walk around, and big windows to look out of.

Last April, my boss and I noticed that a hawk, probably a Cooper’s hawk, kept flying around, swooping past the windows on the other side of the building, and disappearing. Now, we often see hawks around here (sometimes in the winter, it seems like every tall light post along the big highway has a hawk on it), so seeing it wasn’t a surprise. The repeated flight path was.

The next day, around 3 pm, a coworker and I decided to walk around the buildings to bring us some energy for a project we were working on. We stepped out of the building, and I said, “Look, Kate, there’s that hawk again.” Then I said, “LOOK, Kate!”

Mr. and Mrs. Hawk hanging around their urban digs.

There, in the building next to ours, on top of some railings that look cool to an architect, was a big nest. That’s where the hawk was going! We quickly realized that the reason we saw a hawk so often was that there were two, AND babies.

At center left you can see the striped tail of one of the parents as it left the nest.

We could not get any pictures of the babies with our phone cameras, but Kate got a good one showing both parents. We probably stood around for ten minutes, in awe of these urban hawks, making a home right in the middle of so many office buildings.

I guess we should not have been so surprised, since last year I was standing in the same spot where I saw the nest, and there was a tiny faun nestled in the landscaping material. I quickly moved on, so Mama Deer could relax.

PS: When I first moved to Austin, over 20 years ago, the land where our office is (183 and Oak Knoll, if you know the area) was mostly empty, with just a couple of large tech firms and a lot of green space. My kids and I loved to drive through the area while our house was under construction, because we’d see so many deer. There’s less space for them now, but they are still here!


The hawks raised three babies, and we enjoyed watching them learn to fly.

Hello! I’m back!

Now it’s late February, 2019. Right as I walked into work one day last week, I saw one of our hawks swooping. She landed in a NEST! I’d thought it was a squirrel nest, but there she was, hanging around, while the other hawk (smaller, so I figured it was the male) hung around on the building or the parking garage.

The big glob in the center is the hawk’s nest, or the squirrel’s nest. We keep seeing both of them in there.

We’ve been watching as a squirrel keeps checking the nest out. I wonder if the hawks are appropriating the squirrel’s nest. I’d be careful if I were the squirrel!

We have our binoculars ready, and are trying to keep the squealing to a minimum, but with our prime viewing spot, we are really looking forward to babies again this year.

Photo credit: top photo Katherine Nicholson; other photos SA Kendall

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