Oh, No You Don’t! Not My Ducklings!

By Dan Weisz

I witnessed a little bit of drama this week at Sweetwater Wetlands. It was around 8:30 a.m. and already getting hot. At “the bridge”, we saw an adult Cooper’s Hawk perched in a cottonwood tree above us. The small group of us chatted for a while and then, as I was leaving, the Cooper’s Hawk flew to the ground near the creek. The hawk was either going to get a drink or to bathe in the water. Apparently the mother Mallard was not very happy with this situation. She eyed him closely as he waited.

The malllard continued to focus on the Cooper’s Hawk who hadn’t budged, but who did stand up a bit taller. Notice how Mrs. Mallard is keeping herself between the hawk and her grown-up ducklings?

Slowly the Cooper’s Hawk took his first step towards the water- not towards the ducks but towards the water in front of him. Mrs. Mallard is now squarely facing the raptor.

The Cooper’s Hawk approaches the water, clearly not near the ducks, but Mrs. Mallard swims towards him as he raises his wings in a defensive pose. And then…

The duck attacks! And the Cooper’s Hawk “flew the coop”! This happened too quickly for me to focus properly but I think you can get the gist of the action.

The Cooper’s Hawk flew back into the tree and Mrs. Mallard casually swam back to her little ones. Just another morning at Sweetwater!

A few emails ago I mis-identified a lizard. The photo below was taken at Madera Canyon and I called this a Clark’s Spiny Lizard. My good friend Jeff Servoss let me know this is a Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. That thin white line behind its black collar is one of the indicators of this species. Jeff is a Wildlife Biologist specializing in Herpetology with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and he is a great resource for me in this field.

For more on the Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard, go to http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Lizards-Subpages/h-s-jarrovii.html

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