Early morning they attempted their first flight. Well, one of the babes decided it was time; the other two were not so sure even though Papa Cooper pierced the sky with high pitched screams of encouragement delivered from a tall Green Ash tree twenty yards away. For several days the three chicks had been playing at flight while flitting about the nest tree. Hop flying to a nearby branch and flapping inexperienced wings to test the strength. Later that afternoon, the second chick decided to try out the flight idea. Then there were two somewhat clumsy, awkward, soon-to-be aerial masters with tell-tale chick fuzz still evident on their heads, flopping about, trying not only to fly but to grasp the art of landing as well. All of this was carefully monitored by their parents. (In one of the photos Papa Cooper can be seen on a phone line with one of the chicks. He flew there after the baby managed an uncertain landing on the wire.)
But still there was that one Cooper baby; the timid one I never noticed in the nest because he liked to stay hunkered down and out of sight. He sported more baby fuzz on his head, being born a day later than his siblings, and on that day of sibling first flight he was just as unsure.
The next morning he was in the nest tree, a solo baby looking a bit forlorn. Family was nowhere around that I could see. I feared he had missed some critical window that I knew nothing about, a law of nature that said if you can’t keep up then you forfeit your life to those who can. And that saddened me greatly.
But then as if in response to my unvoiced concerns, I heard a loud screech from a tree across the lot. There sat Mama, waiting. The other two children were somewhere with Papa, learning to fly, land and most importantly, to hunt. A mother’s patience is vast though and she waited hours.
By the afternoon Timid had made his debut and flew to Mama in a less than direct line, missed the first branch and fluttered down like of folded kite to a lower branch. Practice was definitely on the day’s agenda for all the babies. Each day would bring better control, more promise of what was to come.
Since then, the young birds have gained confidence in the air, mostly hitting their perches without too much tipping and shifting along the way. There have been some hunting attempts, so far without success but the parents bring them the wounded so they can practice. And of course they keep trying.
Now it is up to them to become who they are supposed to be. Mama and Papa have given them all the tools and support to be a good hunter.
It was a blessing to watch this family from my balcony and I sure will miss the Coopers, but I know they are learning and growing, wild in the city. The someday Masters of the sky.
Note: As of this writing, one of the babes had his first successful hunt, with a little help from Mama.