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Welcome, Red-tailed Hawk Class of 2012 [Slideshow and Videos]

By Hugh Powell

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This week we saw the first of our three young Red-tailed Hawks leave the nest, with one big step and then a long glide toward the oak trees across the street. The youngster came back the next day, watched one of his siblings fledge, and then took off again—this time looking decidedly more skillful in the air. Since then the fledglings have been back and forth from the nest a few times, and we’re just waiting for fledgling #3 to make up her mind (we can’t be sure it’s a female, but “she” is a bit larger than the other two fledglings, which is what’s behind the speculation).

It’s been a great 11 weeks with the hawk family—as we named and then got to know Big Red and Ezra, watching all kinds of developments along the way. Just before we turn our attention to the herons (which could fledge as early as next week, yikes!), Ospreys, American Kestrels, and Pacific Loons, we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights.

Some of the key dates:

  • February 16: we began the work of rigging the nest cameras on the light pole that holds the nest
  • late February: Big Red and her mate started bringing new nest material to their nest
  • March 16: Big Red lays her first egg
  • March 19: hawk cam broadcasts begin, and Big Red lays her second egg
  • Mar 22: Big Red lays her third egg
  • April 23: the first of the chicks hatches
  • April 25: all three chicks are hatched
  • June 6: Chick #1 becomes Fledgling #1
  • June 7: Fledgling #1 returns; Fledgling #2 leaves the nest
  • June 8: We round out the week with about 4,000 viewers watching to see when chick #3 will leave the nest. Ezra is still bringing food, so it could still be a while
And here’s a couple of cumulative stats:
  • A devoted “Mombrella” (and “Dadbrella”): Big Red and Ezra withstood more than 10 inches of rain during the nesting season
  • Gourmet eating: Among the food that Big Red and Ezra delivered to the nest were red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, meadow voles, moles, Chipping Sparrows, American Robins, and Rock Pigeons. (That’s not an exhaustive list—let us know if you saw anything else!)

As the fledglings soar off into their new life, be sure to stay in touch by signing up for our Bird Cams eNewsletter! We’ll keep you updated with highlights, videos, and new developments as they happen. For now, here are two looks back:

A touching set of video highlights and viewer comments:

And a fast-forward through the progress of the nest, put together with 150 screen captures:

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library