Discovering Nature

Final fledge, and other neighborhood hawks

Chick #3 a few hours before fledging

The girls and I went to Cornell yesterday morning with the awareness that it would probably be fledge day for the final eyass. As it turned out, the chick did fledge, but not till later in the day. It was chilly and overcast during the two hours we waited at the nest site, and though we did see all three chicks, there wasn’t a lot going on.

“Look, Sis — it’s the two-leggeds again.”

Imagining flight…

Big stretch

For a tenth of what my parking ticket cost last week, I purchased a two-hour visitor permit, and during that time the girls and I enjoyed meeting a few other folks from the hawk chat. Almost everyone who drove, biked, or walked past did so while craning their necks, looking up at the tower. Everyone seemed aware of C3; one young woman who passed by said that she walked by every day on her way to work. “I think about how amazing it would be if the third one jumped off and flew while I was on my way past!” she said.

The chick’s first flight was marvelous, and probably the first intentional fledge of the three. The first two appeared to fledge by accident, blown from their perches by a breeze, but this one took off like a pro. I wasn’t watching at the time, so I was glad for this video capture.

Best of luck to you, C3!

My parking permit ran out around 1:00, just as the sun was starting to break through. So we ate our bag lunches and then drove around for awhile, visiting some sites of interest to us raptor geeks.

One was a large pheasant farm to the Northeast of the nest. Someone told me that it produces pretty much all of the pheasants in the state, and when it was proposed recently that funding be cut because of the state’s economic woes, there was quite a protest.

One of the three or four fields of pheasants

However, it’s not only humans who appreciate the pheasant farm. There were flocks of pigeons, crows, and blackbirds there, pilfering the feed (or so we guessed). One turkey vulture visited, for some mysterious reason. I’ve heard that they frequent natural gas lines because of the smell of decay. I doubt that there were any dead pheasants around; it’s to all appearances a very well-maintained farm. But maybe there was some other explanation.

A pheasant would be too heavy for a hawk to carry away in most cases. But the pigeons and, likely, small rodents attracted by the feed must in turn attract hawks, because there was a pair of redtails there.

A hawk perches on the right-hand pole, studying the pheasant farm across the road.

A harrassed hawk

Just to the southeast is a long field of utility poles. The southern end of the field is visible sometimes when the cam pans the landscape near the cemetery where Ezra is thought to hunt. Back in April, we observed a pair of redtails actually mating atop one of the poles. They were there again yesterday.

Hawk flying with legs down — a new sight for me

A hawk is perched on the near pole. Bradfield Hall, a tall brick building near the cam hawk nest, is visible in the distance.

Was this one pair of hawks, or two? Was the pair monitoring the pheasant farm Red and Ezra? We could only be at one place at a time, but we can say for sure that there is at least one other pair of redtails in Big Red and Ezra’s near neighborhood, and perhaps two. The utility field hawks look enough like Red and Ezra to be twins, but they’re definitely different hawks based on what we observed back in April.

It was interesting to get a slightly expanded sense of the hawk neighborhood. Watching the cams, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision, but the hawks live in a place full of raptor-friendly habitat. I’m sure they all have their invisible but well-defended “property lines” and the place will be full of young hawks learning to fly and hunt this summer.

Probably not everyone is excited about this!

Timmy Tiptoes, posing for me across the street from Red and Ezra’s nest

Categories: Birds

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  1. I am thrilled that through our beloved Cornell hawklets, I have discovered your photographic genious.
    The joy you give your children and pass on to us is beyond amazing.
    I feel as if I should contribute to your special home school library, buy you some gas, or set up a fund for
    your parking tickets!!! Will I be able to purchase a picture of BR/EZ and their family from you??
    Am off to the low country of Hilton Head Island…wanna set up school there with me for the weekend?????
    Do you want a third daughter, age 62, willing you go on adventures with you??? I’m so thankful for your
    sharing your gifts with me. Merrill Dudley (Ann Arbor, MI)

  2. Janet

    June 15, 2012 — 1:21 pm

    What a wonderful dose of encouragement to start the day — thank you! 🙂

    I’m glad to have been able to share a “ground perspective” on the hawks with those who aren’t close enough to visit them. Haven’t given any thought to selling pictures, but if I do I’ll share it here.

    Have a great time in your travels! Thanks for visiting.

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