UPDATE: Matilda’s babies have flown the coop!
After a little over a month of close encounters with swooping Matilda, the babies– or perhaps teenagers is the better word now– are finally getting accustomed to their surroundings.
The baby birds are using their wings while Matilda still provides a regularly-scheduled meal or two.
UCCS says they spotted four babies in the trees in front of Main Hall on Wednesday. Cooper’s hawk eyas (the term for young hawks) leave their nest 28 to 32 days after hatching.
COLORADO SPRINGS — University Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) welcomed back a pair of Cooper’s Hawks. They have a nest in the center of campus across from the main hall.
“Every year a family, of course, comes in here on the campus and you can see that. So they return every year to the same nest right here in front of me on campus,” said Chris Valentine UCCS Spokesperson.
The hawk has several nicknames including Matilda and Swoop Dog as she and her mate attack walkers nearby to protect their babies.
“Birds are protective, especially raptors. You don’t necessarily see so much from songbirds and other families of birds, but raptors, in particular, are protective for any reason,” said Ty Woodward, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist. “Any mother might be protective of just watching out for that home territory for the night. Or the nest site itself, and then the safety of the young.”
UCCS emailed the faculty and staff when the birds arrive, they also work with CPW to put signs around the area.
“We put up the signs around the area where the hawks are. Just to keep the privacy so that the hawk doesn’t get too close to anybody or anybody there,” said Valentine. “So we’ve kind of roped off the area so folks don’t leave.”
The university recommends walking a different route or carrying an umbrella with you as protection if the hawk comes toward you.
“But we remind people that if you want to be safe, you know, either take a different route, don’t come right here in front of the main hall where the hawk is,” said Valentine.
CPW gave advice on what to do when being attacked by a hawk.
“Retreat back in the direction that you come or that you came within. And make sure that that you’re not getting swooped upon anymore,” said Woodward. “Covering the back of your head, the back of your neck, just with your hands in your arms, just in case that raptor goes to start to get a little too close for comfort.”
For UCCS, welcoming these new additions to campus has become a tradition.
“It’s fun because these types of hawks they mate for life,” said Valentine. “So the same group has come back to the same place every year. It’s kind of become a little bit tradition the last number of years here on campus.”