So, I almost got clotheslined by a Cooper's hawk today! Above we have Jane Goggin, one of the many fabulous vets at The Raptor Center. We didn't have any programs scheduled for my shift today so our crew asked if we could watch Jane and Lori (one of the other fabulous vets) test fly one of the 13 Cooper's hawks still in clinic (that's down from 24--it's been a record year).
We followed Jane and Lori and stood behind them as they released the immature female Cooper's. The bird had recovered from its injury and has been test flown by the volunteer flight crew (after birds have recovered from their injury they go through this to build up their muscles). Lori and Jane go out and test fly the birds to determine if the flight therapy is working and to see if the bird's flight is strong enough for release. The bird is attached to a creance (a really long leash attached to the ankles so it can fly but not get away yet). The bird took off well in front of Lori and Jane.
Then she suddenly banked and headed straight for some spruce trees off to my right. At that point she figured out the creance was going to prevent that and she turned on a dime towards me coming up fast on my right. About two seconds after I took the above photo, I realized the creance line was heading straight towards me at about neck level. I hit the ground and heard Jane and Lori yell, "Duck! Quick!" towards the rest of our crew. I heard the line zip over and lifted my head to see the rest of the crew on the ground.
Fortunately, no one was injured and I think it's safe to say that this particular female Cooper's hawk is ready to go off in the wild with moves like that!
Someone emailed how I get the release shots that I posted last week. Above is a photo I took of Chuck releasing a merlin.
Here is the same scene taken by Rick Dupont of me getting the above shot of Chuck releasing the merlin.