Discovering Nature


My daughters and I had a feeling today would be the day that one of the Cornell hawks would fledge. So capitalizing on the flexibility of schedule homeschooling gives us, we made the hour’s drive to Ithaca on this glorious sunny morning.

We were watching the cam when the first hawkling made its appearance after a spring snow. We’ve been watching the cam through numerous feeding and flapping sessions. But it was a thrill indeed to be there at the moment of the first fledge!

Hawkling on the landing, pumping its wings

Getting ready to...


Into the wild blue yonder

Where did it go? After an anxious search of nearby trees, a fellow hawk-watcher located the fledgling on the ground at a busy corner of the building across the street.

Feeling the ground for the first time

A crowd was congregating, and I was getting nervous. It’s an awfully busy spot for a young hawk. But the crowd served the purpose by alerting drivers to something unusual going on, and any cars that drew near slowed way down.

After perhaps ten minutes on the ground, the young hawk gathered its nerve and flew, screeching, across the street and into a small oak — where it landed upside-down and dangled for a minute. It was a tense moment, but eventually the fledgling righted itself.

Red had flown over a few times, way up high. She was on a light pole across the fields when the youngster took flight. We left, hoping to give the bird some space to calm down and get reconnected to its parents. Ezra was on a roof nearby, preening, and I’m sure Red wasn’t far away. I got some great flight pics of her; I’ll post them tomorrow, as well as a few more of the chicks in the nest.

We’re grateful to Cornell for this experience! We’re wishing the young hawks well as they move into this next steep learning curve on their way to adulthood.


Categories: Birds

Red’s ledge » « Why nature? Why now?


  1. Oh, wow, Janet, you made me cry. Next best thing to being there. How can a body get so involved with 5 birds half a country away? Not to mention the other folks who love them.Big, big thank you.

    • I completely agree. I am so attached to these birds, I will have “hawk withdrawal” when we can no longer see them daily.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. Awesome!

  3. Thank you thank you a million times over for the great coverage! I laughed at the upside down landing but hey! that’s not bad for such a young chick. He’s in the tree proud as punch I bet!

  4. Thank you so much for these awesome photos, Janet!! We homeschool, too, and have been watching this nature drama unfold — SO glad you were there in person to catch what the nest cams couldn’t! Otterdance

  5. Thank you so much for these awesome photos, Janet!! We homeschool, too, and have been watching this nature drama unfold — SO glad you were there in person to catch what the nest cams couldn’t!

  6. Thank you for the wonderful pics and info.

  7. Janet, I have been watching the Cornell Hawks religiously every day……Your photos are absolutely breathtaking…..Thank you so much! They really did bring tears to my eyes!

  8. Sheila Bennett

    June 6, 2012 — 6:41 pm

    I’ve been lurking on the Cornel website since the first sighting of the eggs and have been there for every moment of consequence since — I don’t want to admit to even myself how many hours that represents! And I was watching on the webcam when #1 took off . . . and then shared the anxiety of the search for where s/he ended up. Your photos and narrative fill in the gap wonderfully. Thank you for being there. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful!

  9. Grandad Rufus

    June 6, 2012 — 6:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this

  10. Cindy Stoner (Raptor55)

    June 6, 2012 — 6:41 pm

    Janet….Wow thank you for these photos. Amazing that you had that gut feeling about the fledge! Great that your kids got to see it too!!!

  11. Betsy Perkins

    June 6, 2012 — 6:42 pm

    Janet, these are just amazingly heartwarming and wonderful and clear, and… everything! I’m so grateful to you for sharing this. (CoastalNC on hawk chat)

  12. thank you so much for sharing these wonder moments with the rest of us hawk watchers.

  13. Wonderful shots of the Corned hawk fledge Janet!!


  14. I am a Cornell grad living in Portland OR. I am so thrilled to see your photos of the first fledge and his journey to the safety of a tree. Really awesome. Thank you.

  15. Thank you so much! Beautiful!

  16. Thanks sooooo much. Have been following these birds since they had eggs. I’m a real fan! So happy to see your pictures and words, too.

  17. I’ve been watching this hawk cam for a long time and actually got to see the 3rd hawklet hatch. These photos are great and I’m sure you are elated to have them. Thank you for taking time to post them for all of us birders to enjoy.

  18. Thanks Janet for your wonderful photos and commentary. All of us online family have been holding our breath for this moment and to be able to share it via your blog is simply wonderful. Especially love the upside down shot, and deeply appreciate your “web of protection” as well. You rock! Cornell rocks!

    Hugs to you!

  19. Nancy Wheeler

    June 6, 2012 — 6:50 pm

    Have been watching Cornell bird cam since first on line…You, Janet are a very gifted writer and photographer…thanks so much for your postings…SO fortunate your children are to have you as a mother…I must say as an artist you have a wonderful eye and soul to be able to record such touching pictures and words.. thanks so much…wish I was able to visit Cornell. Been a member of BIrdwatch programs for several years now and they do such special things..Blessings to you…Nancy Wheeler..( I seldom enter chat but do so as rwronan…)

  20. thanks for those wonderful shot! You were so lucky to witness this in person!

  21. Linda Anderson

    June 6, 2012 — 6:51 pm

    Thank you so much! I wasn’t watching when he/she fledged, so I was really hoping someone got pictures of it.

  22. Janet, thank you so much for this! I missed the fledge, and would never have been able to see everything you covered. Much appreciated!!

  23. Wonderful, just wonderful! Thank you for sharing these amazing moments with us !

  24. Great shots, glad you had the feeling today was the day. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Dear Janet,
    Best pictures yet of the first fledge. What a great experience for you and your daughters. Thank you for posting them.

  26. What amazing pictures! I’m so thankful you posted these for all of us to see. I was afraid we would not be able to see them again once they fledged.

  27. Margaret Thorson

    June 6, 2012 — 6:56 pm

    Thank you for these pictures. What a day. I missed it by an hour so was so glad to see these.

  28. Wow Janet!!!! Amazing!!!! How did you GET those?! You must’ve been there!!!! Thank you SO much!!!

  29. Thank you for these great photos!!

  30. Michelle Hunkley

    June 6, 2012 — 6:58 pm

    WOW! Iwas out this afternoon & missed the 1st flight:( After seeing your pics, it’s like I was right there in NY…THANK YOU!!!!!!

  31. Thank you, many times over. I had just looked away for about five minutes, and missed it. Feel like I was there, now. Deeply appreciate your time and beautiful photos.

  32. Thank you so much for the amazing pics. I missed seeing it this morning. I can’t believe how attached I am to these babies. It was like watching my own children. Thanks again

  33. You are my hero, Janet. Thanks so much for posting. I missed the first fledge.
    Have been watching since first pip.

  34. thanks for these pictures. they provide the story.

    i feel such a tie to the cycle having been given the pleasure of watching these magnificent creatures

    i even gave you money and i don’t give my money away lightly

  35. Nice set of photos, Thanks from California

  36. Wow! What amazing photos and such a lovely tribute to the first fledge. I’ve been glued to the web cam since the beginning (though don’t chat), but completely missed this wonderful moment. Thanks so much for sharing what happened after our little one left the nest!

  37. Eileen Streight

    June 6, 2012 — 7:13 pm

    Thank you so much….what a treat, what a privilege to see and appreciate all this wonders of nature….

  38. Barb Anthonson

    June 6, 2012 — 7:19 pm

    Janet, how wonderful…thank you so much for sharing

  39. Awesome pictures and narrative to go wtih it! What a wonderful experience for “school” today with your children!!

  40. Janet, what wonderful pics. I am in love with your web site. You are bookmarked in my favorites now. Thank you so much for sharing these “First Fledge” pics. My hubby will appreciate these, too.

  41. You are so talented! Thanks for sharing your photos with all of us from the Cornell site. I missed the first fledge this morning, but your photos made my day!

  42. Thank you, Janet. You have given the RT nest addicts a gift of stillness, beauty, and detail amidst the rush of images and emotions connected with the hawklet’s first flight.

  43. Dear Janet, I am so grateful for your photos of the amazing fledge this morning, thank heavens you were there watching with a great camera to record this special step–flight– forward for this lovely little hawklet I will cherish these photos forever. Keep up the great work, and a big cheer for you and your sharing the images with us all. Sincerely, Mary St. G.

  44. Janet:
    these pictures are breath taking …….you have done just a fine job….loved the storytelling for each one…..thank you….

  45. What awesome pictures..thanks ever so much. I was out cutting grass and had a feeling one would do it while I was out. Your pictures made me feel like I was there. Again thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Michele (wildestarr)

    June 6, 2012 — 7:32 pm

    Thank you Janet for giving all of us “Hawk Moms from afar” such a beautiful gift. I think we are ALL beyond words at the pictures and the commentary… Just love it love it love it…. Thanks again!

  47. Debi Champney

    June 6, 2012 — 7:33 pm

    These photos were the best! Thanks so much Janet. How lucky for all of us that you made the trip to Ithaca today!! Debi from Victor, NY

  48. Janet

    June 6, 2012 — 7:37 pm

    Thank you for the kind comments. Many gracious people watching these hawks! — one reason I wanted to share this experience.

  49. birdsrmypassion

    June 6, 2012 — 7:52 pm

    glad u were there to take these wonderful pictures.

  50. Great shots!! Which lens did you use?

    • Janet

      June 6, 2012 — 10:18 pm

      Hi Laurel, I used a Canon 70-300 lens. There’s a link to it in the sidebar if you’d like more details about it.

  51. Roxana Terwilliger

    June 6, 2012 — 7:56 pm

    Thank you Janet. These are going into my favorites to keep me happy until next year. It was great that you were able to be there for the “great event” Hope you can make the next two.

  52. I’ve been watching this webcam and it’s just fabulous that you got all these great photos of the first fledge! Thanks so much!!!!

  53. Sandy from Rhode Island

    June 6, 2012 — 8:02 pm

    Thanks so much! I missed the fledging and appreciate your beautiful shots. Almost like being there!

  54. Amazing photos – so grateful you caught these moments.

  55. This gave me goosebumps. Beautiful, as usual, Janet!

  56. They were amazing.. thank you so much for sharing

  57. Robin (RandLie489)

    June 6, 2012 — 8:15 pm

    Those were great photos and wonderful captions/texts. Thanks for sharing today!

  58. Thank you Janet for posting your wonderful photos, and for your discriptive narrative.. Almost as good as being there.

  59. After watching from the beginning, I was mortified to learn I had missed this performance! Thanks to you, I could see, and I experienced such joy with a lump in my throat !!! Many thanks for such a beautiful job! I will always remember this wonderful gift!

  60. these are just plain wonderful! thank you so very much for posting these! Poor little guy! Hanging upside down! what a picture!!

  61. Thank you so much! Like so many others, I am typing this with tears in my eyes. So beautiful and so privileged to be a part of this.

  62. Thank you so much for sharing your photos. This makes the story of the first fledge complete and helps us to understand the process. Your home-schooled children should be proud of you. Rita from Oklahoma.

  63. Thank you Janet, for these glorious photos which give us all the memory of #!’s fledge.

  64. Janet – thank you so much for the wonderful photos. It was almost like being there myself!

  65. Thanks so very much for these superb photos. After watching the nest for this much time, it was a great thrill to be part of the BR and Ezra Cornell Community, and you have greatly enhanced that experience.

  66. Tender Summerwind

    June 6, 2012 — 9:16 pm

    I am from Germany and have been watching the hawks since the very beginning. Seeing the first one fledge this morning was an amazing and moving experience. Your photos are fantastic, the description of the event lively and awesome. Thank you sooo much for sharing these with us. I am very grateful and will – of course – follow the hawks and your reports on your website. “Discovering nature” is GREAT.

  67. Thank you for the wonderful pictures!

  68. Janet, thank you for this wonderful gift to those of us who missed the big event! You and your daughters are so fortunate to have witnessed it in person.

  69. What a thrill for you all! Thanks for sharing!

  70. Hi, It’s Hugh from the Cornell Lab. I just wanted to say great job getting on the scene and capturing such great photos and play-by-play of the hawk chick fledging. All of us were still here at the Lab (a few miles away from the nest) so we wouldn’t have known about the hawk landing on the ground at all if not for your post. Your photos and descriptions are great—thanks for posting them!

    • Janet

      June 6, 2012 — 10:05 pm

      Thank you! So glad if the post is useful. The cams have brought our family a lot of pleasure, and we’ve learned so much. We’re very grateful for it!

  71. Hi Janet,
    It’s Anne Marie! I just got back home and logged on…thank you so much for the amazing pictures and blog. I will get mine up at some point but they aren’t as good as yours We were so fortunate to be there when it happened!! The intuition thing was why I was there as well…my husband helped;-)!

    • Janet

      June 6, 2012 — 10:09 pm

      Hi Anne Marie! So good to meet you today!

      • You too Janet…YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTERS ARE FAMOUS…they cannot stop talking about you on the Cornell chat!! Maybe the Ithaca newspaper will want to interview you…I hope so. Your daughters must be so excited about being there today…so wonderful for them and for us as well. As strange as I may sound, my husband was there with us…thank you for taking the time to listen to me and look at my other hawk pictures.

  72. This has been a huge privilege and joy to watch these hawks. The moderators are very patient, doing a great job of keeping up and keeping order. I can’t imagine all of the work that goes into your live cams. I’m devoted to the herons mostly, but love them all. Now, when I see red tails and heron flying over my home at morning and evening, I can imagine that they are going to fish in the river and then going home to feed hungry chicks. Pretty special. We have a few rookeries in the immediate area, along with sandhill crane, the wonderful but maligned vulture, and the osprey

    The chats really become communities. I enjoy “lurking” and learning. Now and then I chat. Thank you for such an important addition to my life.

    Must get back to see if #2 hawk fledges today yet and where #1 is going to stay tonight. And then, on to the herons. I’m sure that you all know that you created an amazing experience for thousands of people around the world. All of us excited and grateful!

    Most sincerely,
    Jesse Farmer-Lowell
    aka wisecrone

  73. Incredible timing and fantastic photos!! Thanks!

  74. Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures. I missed the first fledge, but seeing your pictures made me feel like I was there for all the excitement and drama. I hope your daughters know how special you are.

  75. Thanks so much for these wonderful pics! I try to keep an eye on the cam at work, but missed the first fledge – thanks for catching it on film.

  76. Thank you for bringing the event to those of us whom watch from afar! The pictures and play by play made me feel like it took place in my backyard!

  77. Thank you, Janet, for taking the time to put this together and share with all of us Cornell hawk (& heron) lovers. We are so privileged to be able to witness this, and are grateful to you for generously sharing your good luck (& timing!)
    Hugs from gofishie

  78. What a great educational experience for your daughters. I feel your experience through your pics. Thanks for sharing.

  79. @yankeebelle10

    June 6, 2012 — 11:10 pm

    Great captures and so exciting to see. I watched the first fledge live this morning and have been glued to the cam most of the day. I feel like a mom whose child just took his first steps! Thanks for posting…


  80. Thanks Janet for the fabulous photos and play-by-play of #1’s inaugural flight.

  81. We are all so lucky that you were there for the fledge and able to get these spectacular pics. Thanks so much.

  82. I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful tribute to the first fledge of Cornell Hawks. The photos and dialogue make me feel like I watched the whole process instead of just the piece I saw. Thank you, again.

  83. Janet, your pics are just unbelievable!! I SOOOO much enjoyed them and have looked at them several
    times. I have watched the hawks from the egg-laying and, sadly, missed the 1st fledging, but your pics
    saved the day. Thank you so much!!!!

  84. Thank you so much for these great photos. I have been watching the nest since before they hatched. We have become fascinated with birds. I truly appreciate all the time effort everyone has put in to make this possible.

  85. Janet – I join the group thanking you for being on the scene and taking those wonderful photos of #1 taking flight — and landing— on the ground and in the tree. I’m down at Cape May right now, and it feels appropriate that I’m seeing this at this time. Thank you again!
    Anne (sranne)

    • Patti Higgins (hawklady313)

      June 11, 2012 — 5:01 pm


      I have a cousin named Anne–was your father’s name Chuck? Wouldn’t it be crazy if you WERE my cousin?

      I have been on Cornell’s site since the beginning–aren’t these birds wonderful?

      Janet, Thanks SOOO much for sharing your awesome pictures–can’t wait to see more!

      Patti :o)) hawklady313

  86. WOW!!!! Amazing pictures!! You must have been moving (running) pretty fast!! Are you a professional photographer?? These are certainly professional quality pictures!! Many many thanks for sharing them with us! from Charlottesville, Va.

  87. Thank you so much for sharing all the pics of the fledgling. I, like so many others, have been watching daily and missed the big moment. I feel like I was there now and saw it all for myself. Thanks again!

  88. Thank you for being there with camera in hand. I was not able to watch today, but have been following since March 23rd.

    What a wonderful moment to see this baby fly away. It must have been so exciting! Perhaps drawing a tear?

  89. Great shots,, Thanks for sharing! Watching from Mount Holly, NC.


  91. Theresa Levine

    June 7, 2012 — 12:56 am

    The pictures of Hawklet #1 fledging the net in cornelland were AWESOMELY WONDERFUL ! ! ! Thank-you for sharing your BEAUTIFUL PICTURES.

  92. What a wonderful experience for you and your daughters! Thanks so much for posting these gorgeous photos with the narrative!

  93. Thank you thank you thank you, Janet, for such a superb gift! The tears overflowed while viewing your photos as I expected they would. I am certainly joined by others who have bonded so strongly with this rt hawk family. We are perhaps all very hungry to know and learn, we want to see, we want these young magnificent creatures to grow strong and flourish and be safe from all the dangers and obstacles we know are out there. (Egad, #1, so close to the street!) Thank you for giving us your talent, time, reports and photos that allow us to see beyond the nest and the first hours of the voyage of #1 hawklet. May this family of redtails be protected by the thousands of hearts and minds that have been and will continue to be focused upon them.

  94. Wow, excellent pictures and story. Thank you for sharing and being there!

  95. I, too, thank you so much for sharing these photos, Janet – and for ‘being there!’ … it is so nice to know he/she landed ok and will do well (I hope) … This ‘watch’ has been such a delightful experience.

  96. Janet

    June 7, 2012 — 1:10 am

    I appreciate all these comments — thank you! We felt very fortunate to be there. I’m glad to be able to share the experience, and extra glad if it helps others to feel like they were there too!

    • I , too, have been watching since the beginning & seeing this beautiful set of photos brought me to tears as well. Thank you so much for this extraordinary experience.

  97. Janet,
    Wanted to say “thanks” for sharing a moment I unfortunately missed today.I have been waiting and watching and had the same feeling one or more would fledge today. Work called and I signed out at 11:05 or so! Missed it by minutes!! Thanks to you, I was able to enjoy this special moment!! Especially love the pics where he was running on the ground and doing his best bat imitation! Thankfully all looks well for one of our babies.
    Love your photos and blog. Thanks again Janet! Beautiful shots! 🙂

  98. These pictures and your commentary are just fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing experience! I wish I could have been there too, but this was the next best thing! Glad he made it to the tree!

  99. Mary Jane Flanagan

    June 7, 2012 — 2:19 am

    I agree with all the prior comments, your photo’s are breathtaking! Thank you so much!

  100. Thank you for this gift, Janet. It is so nice to be able to witness this young hawkling’s first flight through the eyes of you. I am in awe of nature’s bounty. What a beautiful, beautiful world in which we live.

  101. Janet,, my response when I saw the first photos and the ones of him walking was, awh bless his little heart! I have been watching these hawks since the third chick hatched when a friend sent me a link. I have to say I am hooked, and I tell all my friends if I am out somewhere that I have to get home to see how my babies are doing. All you folks, mods, Cornell, everyone involved in anyway have blessed me so much to be able to view these beautiful creatures that GOD has given us and to be able to experience their lives through the world of a camera is amazing. I am so in love with them and BR and EZ are absolutely gorgeous birds and the best parents. I am a hawkaholic too! Your pictures are amazing–outstanding photography Janet. WOW! WOW! WOW!

  102. I have watched from the very beginning of this awesome journey. It was my great privilege to see #1 as s/he left the edge of the ledge, and I along with everyone else held our breaths until it was determined that s/he was found and safe. Thank you so much for these magnificent pictures. Hoow fortunate that you were in the right place at the exact time the fledge took place. Thank you again.

  103. Janet, thank you so much for taking the time to post these fantastic photos and information on #1’s fledge and adventures out of sight of the camera today. I was lucky enough to be tuned in today to witness the fledge but knowing exactly what happened afterward is so wonderful! Thank you, thank you, thank you from California!

  104. Janet, it was fantastic that you were on hand to capture this fledge. It extends the reach of our experience with these hawks and fills an important gap for so many of us. I hope you are able to capture more superb moments in the weeks ahead. I was especially tickled that you were able to get the upside-down shot. That’s one of those special moments that says so much about the learning curve the birds face.

  105. Fantastic shots – thanks for giving us this story of what happened after the fledge. I’ve been watching since they hatched.

  106. Thanks for sharing these amazing captures, Janet! #1’s sure got a lot to tell his grandchildren; first flight….feeling the ground for the first time…and the roof…and the parking lot…….and finally parking himself in that tree. Thanks again!

  107. Hi Janet, we met yesterday. I was filming the fledge. Would you mind giving the Lab your email address? We’d like to hear more about your story.


  108. Very beautiful photos-felt so emotional looking at them. Cornell has given the world a wonderful gift with this webcam.

  109. I have been watching this incredible, miraculous site since the the 1st pip.
    Your pictures of the 1st fledge take my breath away!!

    Thank You and thank you to CU Ornithology for these very special live video treats taking us into hawks, heron, and other birds’ most private, precious lives.

  110. Oh Jan..i am part of the “Heron Hood” but would drop in now and then to see how the hawks were growing. (had a difficult time watching the feeding of small mammals but could take the regurg of fish from Heron parents) LOL

    I was always fascinated every time viewing and now, finding your take on this? JUST BREATHTAKING! What a great experience for your family and then to be able to share with us? PRICELESS!

  111. These are great pics! Thank you so much for adding to this wonderful experience.

  112. Your photos are so beautiful–and hilarious, too. I love the one where he’s skipping across the ground!

    I am so grateful to you for sharing this with us!

    • Janet

      June 8, 2012 — 12:22 pm

      One of the funniest moments was when the hawk was in the parking area next to the building, and two men came out the door in serious conversation about something. They stopped in their tracks at the sight of a full-grown young hawk running full tilt toward them, wings flapping wildly! It must have been a real twilight zone experience…

  113. Wow, Janet! Looks like I’m late to the party! Those are some fantastic shots, friend, and what a story!

  114. What an exciting, adventurous, educational experience for you and your home schooled daughter! Based on your description and these photos, you must be an excellent teacher!

  115. Great photos! Do you have any of #3 fledging

    • Janet

      June 14, 2012 — 2:58 pm

      Unfortunately no! I was there yesterday for a few hours in the morning, and I got some pics of youngsters at the nest. But #3 had the good sense to wait till later in the day to fledge — when it was warmer and clearer.

  116. Nettie McDaniel

    June 18, 2012 — 2:23 pm


    Your photographs move me to laughter and to tears. Thank you so much for sharing.


Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2018 Discovering Nature

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑