Discovering Nature

Cornell Hawks: Preparing for Takeoff

We’ve visited the red-tailed hawks at Cornell a couple of times. Yesterday, we saw them again, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be our last time. The hawklets may be flying before we get back!

They’re large enough to see easily from the ground now. We got there in the late afternoon, and over the hour or so that we were there, we saw two of them; the third, we saw on the nest cam, was resting out of our sight.

It was a hot one, and they were panting. (So were we!)

Ezra was on a nearby light pole, keeping an eye on things. Initially we didn’t see Big Red, but after a few minutes we saw her on the nest with the chicks. I’m not sure whether she flew in while our eyes were elsewhere, or whether she just changed position so we could see her better. In any case, she had a mission in mind that involved a short flight.

“Someday I’m gonna fly like Mom!”

Obviously I was photographing this in a window through the trees. She flew over Older Daughter and me, and into a small tree about 40 feet from where my husband and Younger Daughter sat on the steps of the building across the street! There she proceeded to rip some home improvements from the tree while a chorus of small birds scolded from the neighboring branches.

Hidden picture exercise: Find that raptor!

She flew back to the nest with her hard-won beakfull of bark. It was hazy, and the light doesn’t bring out her color as much as I’d like, but she is so amazing in flight — beautifully marked and powerful.

Back at the nest, she deposited the bark and headed off across the neighboring athletic field. She perches farther away than Ezra, who has picked a lightpost on the same field as the nest both times we’ve visited recently. She spent her time eating something atop the pole, circling a little, and landing on a neighboring pole.

Do red-tails wipe their beaks? This is after she finished eating.

Walking to the other end…

Meantime, back at the nest, one of the hawklets practiced flapping.

“Can we help you with something?”

Head bump (or assist)

Ezra had taken off shortly after we arrived, and we saw him getting mobbed across the field.

He must have held his own, because he arrived back at a lightpost near the nest.

“You with the camera again??”

We were about ready to leave, but we waited a few minutes more just in case Red flew back across to the nest. Instead, Ezra launched from his post, and she followed a few moments later. They circled together and went out of sight.

We decided to take their cue and head out ourselves. We’d seen what we came to see. The most incredible experience was seeing Red in that tree, so close, yet so intent on her bark-ripping!

I wrote about our other two hawk visits here (at my other blog) and here.

Categories: Birds

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27 Comments

  1. These are wonderful photos. I’ve been watching the hawk cam since before the hatch, and these photos add some nice perspective. juliegrl

  2. Janet, This is an amazing photo-narrative! I’ve been watching the nest cam, but wondered what BR and EZ really looked like in flight. And the bark stripping is so comical!
    Thanks.
    Joan (joankay)

  3. Super pix. Thanks, Janet. Have been following the birdcam since first hatch and am addicted! AWESOME! Watching the development and interaction of these hawks. What a treasure! TY for your great pix. MM

  4. barbara Eshbaugh

    May 28, 2012 — 1:16 pm

    fantastic photos-makes me realize how much room they have up there, I am so addicted to this site I have to sneak in viewing times or my spouse will have me committed!!

  5. joan McMurray

    May 28, 2012 — 1:22 pm

    Your photos do wonders to put the birds in a “natural” perspective. The Cornell cameras give us a close view of the “nest life” of the birds but cannot, of course, visualize them in their greater world. Thanks.

  6. Janet

    May 28, 2012 — 1:54 pm

    Thank you — I’m glad you enjoyed the photos! I know a lot of folks who watch the cam live too far away to ever get to Cornell for a first-hand look. I’m glad if these glimpses help to flesh out the hawks’ lives a bit.

  7. Thank you so much for your photo-sharing. The in-flight photos are beautiful.

  8. These are wonderful photos Janet. I was wondering how BR and EZ looked while in flight and I am amazed at how beautiful they are. I have hawks that live across the street from me, but the trees are so large that you barely get to see them unless in flight. Thank you for sharing with us your amazing eye for these wonderful creatures.

  9. Hi Janet – this is a wonderful blog! Someone shared the address this morning in the chat room. I had first seen some of your photos in Flickr. Thanks for sharing these great shots of “our” hawks, and all your other nature photographs as well.

  10. Janet

    May 28, 2012 — 6:46 pm

    Thank you! I appreciate the comments. Thanks for visiting! I’m glad the hawk photos help to add some perspective.

    Ruth, I remember you from Flickr — a fellow Ezra fan. 🙂

  11. Ingmar Andersson

    May 28, 2012 — 7:11 pm

    Most informative set of pics. Nice to see the set-up from ground level.

    One question, what birds did the mobbing?

  12. Janet

    May 28, 2012 — 7:18 pm

    I really couldn’t tell, Ingmar. They were too far away.

  13. Ingmar Andersson

    May 28, 2012 — 7:22 pm

    Oh, forgot to say, I really like the pic with Ezra sitting (on the right) at the far of the floodlights, with all the floodlights showing (not the close-up).

  14. Ingmar Andersson

    May 28, 2012 — 7:23 pm

    Thanks, Janet. Next time, please get all their names and addresses 😉

  15. Kathy Mitchell

    May 28, 2012 — 7:39 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your photos of Big Red and Ezra! They are amazing. What type of camera and lens did you use and what speed? So hard to capture good pics of birds in flight!

    • Janet

      May 28, 2012 — 7:54 pm

      I used a Rebel t3i with a Canon 70-300 IS USM lens, set the aperture to f8 and the autofocus to AI servo, and used the continuous shooting feature.

  16. Thank you so much for the photo blog. I’ve been watching the nest cam non-stop and lurking on chat. It’s wonderful to see the different perspective of the babies & Ez & BR doing their thing.

  17. Janet – Thank you so much for these photos and the narrative! I too have been watching the Hawk Cam since before any of the eggs hatched – still remember the morning of April 23, when Big Red was hunkered down over one hatchling and two eggs, surrounded by four or five inches of snow, with snow on her own back!
    Your photos give us another perspective on these beautiful creatures — the view from the earth.

    Thanks so much for posting them.
    Anne sranne

  18. Sandra Curtis

    May 29, 2012 — 3:10 am

    Hi, this is PiccPete from the RTH Chat and I am also in the group of FTH fans on Facebook.
    AWESOME photos!

    Are you in the group on FB?

    Question: Can the link to your blog be posted on there? Would it be OK for me to post the link there? I would NOT post it or share it
    without your permission.
    thank you SOOO much for sharing this with us!

    • Janet

      May 29, 2012 — 10:30 am

      Glad to share another perspective on the hawks!

      Sandra, I’m not on FB myself, but it’s fine with me if you share a link to this post.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Connie Menefee

    May 29, 2012 — 5:14 pm

    The tree is NOT an Eastern Red Cedar – it is probably a Bald Cypress or Dawn Red Wood.

    • Janet

      May 29, 2012 — 5:56 pm

      We didn’t try identifying it till we got home, and our tree guide is anything but exhaustive, so I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong.

  20. Just looked at the amazing photos of the red-tailed hawks, AMAZING! It was nice to see things from the ground since I’ve been watching them since they started laying the eggs thru the web cam. Looking for a new camera, possibly Canon SX40, have old AE1 w/zooms but so hard to get film developed. Thanks for listing your camera!

  21. Janet

    May 31, 2012 — 1:06 pm

    This is my first SLR; I had a Canon SX130 IS before, and I liked it. But it didn’t have a viewfinder, just an LCD. And it didn’t have a continuous burst shooting feature, which is very useful. I’m enjoying the Rebel a lot and the image quality is great, though I’m still figuring the camera out. Very much in the enthusiastic amateur category. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

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