Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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July 25, 2018

Red-tailed Hawk H1 Visits Fernow Nest Site

Look who stopped by for a visit this morning! H1 returned to the fledge ledge for a very vocal perching session before making a swooping flight over the campus's athletic fields from an adjacent light tower. Watch highlights of the young hawk's visit to its natal area. 

July 20, 2018

H3 Update: Watch The Release

Enjoy this video of H3's release at the Cornell Botanic Gardens on July 18, 2018. Thanks to Victoria Campbell for handling the release and to BOGs Cindy and Karel Sedlacek for documenting it on camera. Reports from multiple BOGs state that H3 has reunited with its siblings on campus and is flying well and looking healthy.  

July 18, 2018

H3 Update: Released and Looking Strong

We are happy to report that the young hawk that was brought to the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center on Friday, July 13, has been confirmed as H3 and was released successfully this afternoon near the Cornell Botanic Gardens! Victoria Campbell, the wildlife rehabilitator who conducted the release, said H3 was very high-energy and flew wonderfully during the release. Thanks to all of our local BOGs (birders on the ground) who monitored and provided updates about H3, the person who admitted H3 for treatment after the hawk sustained a minor injury from a window strike, and the veterinarians and staff at the Wildlife Health Center for providing wonderful treatment to the young hawk. Fly free, H3! Photo credit: Karel and BOGette 

July 25, 2018

Red-tailed Hawk H1 Visits Fernow Nest Site

Look who stopped by for a visit this morning! H1 returned to the fledge ledge for a very vocal perching session before making a swooping flight over the campus's athletic fields from an adjacent light tower. Watch highlights of the young hawk's visit to its natal area. 

July 20, 2018

H3 Update: Watch The Release

Enjoy this video of H3's release at the Cornell Botanic Gardens on July 18, 2018. Thanks to Victoria Campbell for handling the release and to BOGs Cindy and Karel Sedlacek for documenting it on camera. Reports from multiple BOGs state that H3 has reunited with its siblings on campus and is flying well and looking healthy.  

July 02, 2018

Hawk Fledglings Race to the Nest to Secure Prey Drop From Arthur

Watch H1 and H3 race to the nest to claim a prey offering from Arthur. H1 swoops in to snatch the meal from its dad's talons and mantles over the prey while H3 vocalizes from above. You know what they say: the early bird gets the worm—or in this case, the rodent!  

July 18

H3 Update: Released and Looking Strong

We are happy to report that the young hawk that was brought to the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center on Friday, July 13, has been confirmed as H3 and was released successfully this afternoon near the Cornell Botanic Gardens! Victoria Campbell, the wildlife rehabilitator who conducted the release, said H3 was very high-energy and flew wonderfully during the release. Thanks to all of our local BOGs (birders on the ground) who monitored and provided updates about H3, the person who admitted H3 for treatment after the hawk sustained a minor injury from a window strike, and the veterinarians and staff at the Wildlife Health Center for providing wonderful treatment to the young hawk. Fly free, H3! Photo credit: Karel and BOGette 

July 17

H3 Update

Thanks to our BOGS (birders on the ground), we learned that H3 had not been spotted since last Friday, July 13. After checking in with the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, we learned that they had received a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on Friday evening with a minor injury from a window collision at the Cornell Dairy Bar. The good news is that after initial treatment, the veterinarians report that the young hawk has made a “rapid and full recovery” and was lucky to not have sustained any serious injuries, clearing it for release without further rehabilitation. Due to inclement weather conditions on Tuesday, the young hawk’s release is planned for Wednesday, July 18. To maintain full focus on a successful release with minimal people present, Cornell Lab staffer and licensed wildlife rehabilitator Victoria Campbell will release the hawk at an optimal location that minimizes proximity to human hazards. Cindy and Karel Sedlacek, the BOGs who alerted us of H3’s disappearance, will accompany to confirm whether the released hawk is H3. We are thankful for the world-class treatment of this young hawk by the veterinarians and the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center. We also thank our BOGs who provided updates and observations about the hawks over this period. We will post an update after the hawk has been released. Photo credit: Karel & BOGette 

June 10

"H3" Fledges From Cornell Hawks Nest!

Not to be outdone by its siblings, Red-tailed Hawk chick "H3" fledges just hours after its eldest nest mate. Watch the young chick take the plunge from the fledge ledge at 45 days post-hatch in this clip from the Cornell Hawk cam! Reports from BOGs say that H3 landed safely on the ground. More...

Red-tailed Hawk

Tree

Nest Placement

Red-tailed Hawks typically put their nests in the crowns of tall trees where they have a commanding view of the landscape. They may also nest on a cliff ledge or on artificial structures such as window ledges and billboard platforms.

Nest Description

Both members build the nest, or simply refurbish one of the nests they’ve used in previous years. Nests are tall piles of dry sticks up to 6.5 feet high and 3 feet across. The inner cup is lined with bark strips, fresh foliage, and dry vegetation. Construction takes 4-7 days.

Clutch Size

1-5 eggs

Incubation Period

28-35 days

Nestling Period

42-46 days

Egg Description

White or buffy, blotched or speckled with buff, brown, or purple.

Condition at Hatching

Tiny and helpless, unable to raise head, and weighing about 2 ounces.

Small Animals

Food

Mammals make up the bulk of most Red-tailed Hawk meals. Frequent victims include voles, mice, wood rats, rabbits, snowshoe hares, jackrabbits, and ground squirrels. The hawks also eat birds, including pheasants, bobwhite, starlings, and blackbirds; as well as snakes and carrion. Individual prey items can weigh anywhere from less than an ounce to more than 5 pounds.

Typical Voice

Adults make a hoarse, screaming kee-eeeee-arr. It lasts 2-3 seconds and is usually given while soaring. During courtship, they also make a shrill chwirk, sometimes giving several of these calls in a row.more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Nest

A Red-tailed Hawk pair has been nesting above Cornell University’s athletic fields since at least the 2012, making use of two different light towers for their nest sites. In 2012, 2015, and 2018 they used a tower near Fernow Hall, and in 2013, 2014, and 2016, they used the tower nearest Weill Hall. We installed cameras at both of these sites to get a better look at the intimate behavior of these well-known birds as they raise their young amid the bustle of a busy campus.

Big Red and Her Mates

BigRed-ThreeEggs-600x350The female, nicknamed “Big Red” in honor of her alma mater, is slightly larger, with a darker head, nape and throat, and is banded on her right leg. From banding records we know she was banded in nearby Brooktondale, New York, during her first autumn in 2003.

 

ArthurOnNest_125x125The male, Arthur, was named in honor of the founder of the Cornell Lab, Arthur A. Allen. He was first spotted on Cornell University campus as a fledgling in 2016. He is unbanded and has a paler chest, head, and nape than Big Red. The pair first spent time together in April 2017, after Big Red’s previous mate, Ezra, had died. The hawks attempted their first breeding season together in 2018.

20130315-EzraOnNestBig Red’s former mate, named Ezra after the co-founder of Cornell University, died in March 2017 (read about his legacy here). He and Big Red had raised successful broods every year from 2012–2016. He was a bit smaller and had golden-tawny feathers on his face and head. He also had a paler neck than the female. He was first banded in 2006 as an adult bird on Judd Falls Road near the Cornell campus.