August 15, 2013
Update on ID of Juvenile Hawks
Thanks so much for the outpouring of support you have shared with us during the past week. We know that many of you have been waiting to hear news of whether the hawk that was found dead last Friday is one of the "Ds" from Big Red's and Ezra's nest. Because the hawk was found not far from the nest (near Bradfield Hall and the greenhouses on Tower Road), the location suggests a high likelihood that it was one of the Ds. Additionally, information from the BOGs (local observers on the ground) suggests this possibility, since as of today (August 15), Big Red and Ezra have been seen with only one juvenile. The juvenile that was sighted with Big Red and Ezra is believed to be D2. BOGs "Karels" and "BOGette" believe that the hawk that was found injured on Friday near the intersection of Route 366 and Judd Falls Road was D1, based on its appearance. We have requested photos from the Wildlife Health Clinic to confirm this. Meanwhile, based on this information, we guessed that if the dead hawk found on Friday was a D, it would be D3.
The Animal Health Diagnostic Center is conducting tests to determine the cause of death, but meanwhile, they kindly sent us photos of the hawk's plumage. Three BOGs (Karels, BOGette, and christinebshoals) joined Cornell Lab staff in a session to examine the photos. Because the hawk was found after a long rainstorm, its feathers were wet and matted, and no pattern could be discerned from photos of the breast feathers. Unfortunately, images of the tail feathers were also inconclusive. D3 was known to have an easily visible band of white at the edge of the tail feathers, which were not apparent in the photos. However, it is possible that the white markings may have been less pronounced in the photos because of wet and possibly dirty feathers. We conclude that beyond the circumstantial evidence and observations the photos do not contain additional information to confirm whether the hawk was D3. We have posted the photos for those who would like to see them. However, please use discretion, since not everyone may wish to see photos of the dead hawk. Please click through to the page only if you wish to see the photos of the dead hawk's breast and tail feathers: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=2653#.Ug0zgD_4Jis.
We have also requested photos of the other hawk, believed to be D1, as well as samples from both juveniles that may allow for DNA testing some day. Many thanks to Karels, BOGette, and christinebshoals for their help and consultation, and to ferrisakel and mods for previous photos of the Ds for comparison. We also love the extraordinary photo gallery that christinebshoals put together from her time watching Big Red, Ezra, D1, D2, and D3 on campus, and wanted to share the link with you here. If you haven't seen it yet, click "More". We hope you will enjoy it! More...