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

By Hugh Powell
June 8, 2012
New self-paced course: Learn How to Identify Bird Songs, Click to Learn More

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:

Comments

  • Dawn Remick

    I have simply loved watching the little ones grow & become beautiful birds. Some of the issues parents have in this day and age would learn much in watching how animals teach, train & love their babies.

  • helen

    Wonderful job! I too have spent the past
    3 1/2 months watching this family grow and soon our time together will be over.
    I have learned so much being part of this
    online family of hawk fans. I wish to
    express my thanks to all the moderators,
    rehabbers, falconers, banders, teachers,
    profs, bird watchers and most of all Cornell Labs for making this adventure of a lifetime possible.
    Thanks again, Helen (itsmyjob1)

  • Karen Hummel

    I have followed the Hawks since April. It is fascinating to learn and watch this cam and chat. I am a senior with my first computer; I live in Orangeville, Ont. Thank you for all the work Cornell has provided for me.

  • Wow ! How fascinating! Thanks for all the great footage. In Arizona we love watching red-tail hawks. I have a blog called inkspiring19.com and find from the smallest hummingbird to the Ospreys and Hawks so inspirational to write about.

  • Peggy

    Where do you think the hawks might be now, at the beginning of September? If Big Red and Ezra return to
    Cornell, what month do you usually see them?

  • charles_cornellbirds

    Hi Peggy-
    All of the hawks are (for the most part) still being seen around campus. Big Red and Ezra stay in the area yearround, so you’re likely to see them near campus in any month. They are also still being seen from time to time on the cam, too. Thanks for watching!

    charles.

  • Kathy Brown

    I so enjoyed watching the e-cam views of the hawks on your site. Luckily, we live on the top of a mountain in Arkansas. This spring, we watched carefully as three families of blue herons raised their young in a rookery across the street.

    A surprise this summer was a visit by a fledgling hawk to our back patio. We could hear his “squeek” and finally found him working on his wing flapping. What a joy! We saw him and his brother for a number of days–playing in the sprinkler and looking for food. They have moved on now, but I will never forget the privilege to have been on one of his first stops from the nest.