Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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February 15, 2017

Ezra and Big Red Both Visit Fernow Nest to Make Arrangements

After vocalizing a bit, Ezra works on the proper placement of a particularly stubborn stick. Big Red arrives shortly after to make her own arrangements.  

February 06, 2017

Big Red Adds Sticks to Fernow Nest

Big Red makes an appearance with some nesting material on the Fernow Nest. While nesting is likely still at least a month away, the Red-tailed Hawk pair has been visiting this nest site more frequently over the past weeks. 

February 15, 2017

Ezra and Big Red Both Visit Fernow Nest to Make Arrangements

After vocalizing a bit, Ezra works on the proper placement of a particularly stubborn stick. Big Red arrives shortly after to make her own arrangements.  

February 06, 2017

Big Red Adds Sticks to Fernow Nest

Big Red makes an appearance with some nesting material on the Fernow Nest. While nesting is likely still at least a month away, the Red-tailed Hawk pair has been visiting this nest site more frequently over the past weeks. 

September 06

G2 Sighted and Looking Healthy

G2, one of the Red-tailed Hawk juveniles from this year's breeding season, was seen this weekend looking strong and healthy! She was also spotting catching a fresh dinner. Thanks to our birders-on-the-ground Cindy and Karel Sedlacek for the welcomed update and photo. 

August 19

G1 Doing Well Near Release Location

Good news! Yesterday, August 18, Cindy and Karel Sedlacek visited the area near where G1 was released last week. They were able to find and observe G1 in the evening and again this morning. They are happy to share that G1 looked well, perching in trees and on a pole, and flying to a swampy area without any signs of her previous injury. They observed her making a hunting attempt to the ground, and although she did not come up with anything that time, they believe based on her appearance that she is finding food. They noted at one point that she was doing crop maintenance, making motions that often precede the expelling of fur, indicating she may have had something in her crop. They also noted that she did not cry for for food during the time that they watched her. We are happy to hear that she was flying well and still in the area one full week after being released there. We thank Karel and Cindy for their ongoing efforts and dedication to check on G1 and for sharing their observations with the Lab and the cam community. Best wishes to all for a peaceful and happy weekend. 

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 and 2015, 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 Mate

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.

 

20130315-EzraOnNest

The male, named Ezra after the co-founder of Cornell University, is banded on his left leg. He’s a bit smaller and has golden-tawny feathers on his face and head, and a paler neck than the female. He was first banded in 2006 as an adult bird on Judd Falls Road near the Cornell campus.