Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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July 11, 2019

Two Immature Red-tailed Hawks Take In Their Surroundings

Two of the immature Red-tailed Hawks were spotted perching on the track towers this morning. They remained there observing the surroundings for several minutes. Perhaps they took off to hunt! Over the past week they have been observed successfully hunting insects and attempting to hunt squirrels.  

July 03, 2019

Red-tailed Hawk Fledglings Hunt On A Nearby Rooftop

The Red-tailed Hawk fledglings were spotted today perching and hunting atop a nearby building. It is unclear what they were hunting but it's interesting to watch as they continue to learn and sharpen their skills.  

June 24, 2019

Red-tailed Hawk Chick Returns To Nest For Prey Drop And Long Visit

Welcome home! Watch and listen as Arthur delivers a prey drop to one of the fledglings at the Fernow nest site. The young hawk swoops down and mantles over the prey, eats a meal, and explores its old nest site. Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks may continue to associate with their parents for several months after fledging before starting migration or dispersing in search of their own territories.  

July 11, 2019

Two Immature Red-tailed Hawks Take In Their Surroundings

Two of the immature Red-tailed Hawks were spotted perching on the track towers this morning. They remained there observing the surroundings for several minutes. Perhaps they took off to hunt! Over the past week they have been observed successfully hunting insects and attempting to hunt squirrels.  

July 03, 2019

Red-tailed Hawk Fledglings Hunt On A Nearby Rooftop

The Red-tailed Hawk fledglings were spotted today perching and hunting atop a nearby building. It is unclear what they were hunting but it's interesting to watch as they continue to learn and sharpen their skills.  

June 24, 2019

Red-tailed Hawk Chick Returns To Nest For Prey Drop And Long Visit

Welcome home! Watch and listen as Arthur delivers a prey drop to one of the fledglings at the Fernow nest site. The young hawk swoops down and mantles over the prey, eats a meal, and explores its old nest site. Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks may continue to associate with their parents for several months after fledging before starting migration or dispersing in search of their own territories.  

June 17

Red-tailed Hawk Chicks "I1" And "I3" Fledge Successfully!

It's official—Big Red and Arthur have done it again! All three Red-tailed Hawk chicks have successfully fledged the nest, capping a second successful year for Cornell University's resident Red-tailed Hawk breeding pair. We're wishing the best of luck to our feathered fledgling trio! I2 was the first chick to take to the skies at 42 days post-hatch, making a confident flight from the nesting platform to a nearby tree on June 11. I1 and I3 followed this morning with flights of their own! Unfortunately, the cam is currently offline due to a power outage caused by construction on campus. You can keep up to date about the fledglings' activities from local birders-on-the-ground on the Cornell Hawks Twitter at https://twitter.com/CornellHawks until the live stream resumes. 

June 11

Red-tailed Hawk Chick "I2" Fledges!

Red-tailed Hawk chick "I2" took wing from the "fledge ledge" of the nesting platform on June 11 at around 7:30 P.M. The fledge was not captured on cam, but local birders-on-the-ground report that I2 landed safely in a tree in front of Cornell University's Fernow Hall. Check out this clip of I2 perched in a three across the street from the nest on the morning of June 12. Good luck I2! More...

May 02

Third And Final Red-tailed Hawk Chick "I3"Hatches!

All three Red-tailed Hawk chicks have hatched! Get an amazing look at the third chick "I3" while it hatches from the egg after Big Red raises up for a feeding. As the hatchling works its way out of the shell, Big Red offers a bird foot to the nestlings as they jockey for the best position to get a bite. Good luck to Big Red, Arthur, and their chicks as they transition into the nestling period! 

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

42-42 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.

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, 2018, and 2019 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 completed 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.