Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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May 16, 2019

Close Up On Pile Of Red-tailed Hawk Chicks After Big Red Takes Off

Enjoy a pile of Red-tailed Hawk chicks after Big Red drops off the nest platform and into flight. Probably the most common hawk in North America, Red-tailed Hawks are a raptor of the open country. In addition to college campuses, they occupy deserts, scrublands, grasslands, roadsides, fields and pastures, parks, broken woodland, and (in Mexico) tropical rainforests. 

May 16, 2019

Tiny Talons Lined Up In A Row

Check out the pale feet of the Red-tailed Hawk nestlings as they line up their talons during a feeding. As they grow into adults, the chicks' legs and feet will turn sulfur yellow. 

May 15, 2019

Three Sleepy Nestlings On Cornell Hawks Cam

The Red-tailed Hawk chicks cuddle up in the nest bowl in the late morning of May 15. 

May 16, 2019

Tiny Talons Lined Up In A Row

Check out the pale feet of the Red-tailed Hawk nestlings as they line up their talons during a feeding. As they grow into adults, the chicks' legs and feet will turn sulfur yellow. 

May 16, 2019

Close Up On Pile Of Red-tailed Hawk Chicks After Big Red Takes Off

Enjoy a pile of Red-tailed Hawk chicks after Big Red drops off the nest platform and into flight. Probably the most common hawk in North America, Red-tailed Hawks are a raptor of the open country. In addition to college campuses, they occupy deserts, scrublands, grasslands, roadsides, fields and pastures, parks, broken woodland, and (in Mexico) tropical rainforests. 

May 15, 2019

Three Sleepy Nestlings On Cornell Hawks Cam

The Red-tailed Hawk chicks cuddle up in the nest bowl in the late morning of May 15. 

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! 

May 01

Second Red-tailed Hawk Chick "I2" Hatches Overnight!

The second Red-tailed Hawk chick "I2" hatched just before midnight on April 30! Watch this amazing up-close view of the two chicks during a late-morning feeding on the Cornell Hawks cam. Two chicks hatched, one to go! More...

April 29

First Red-Tailed Hawk Chick "I1" Hatches!

Relive the moment when the first Red-tailed Hawk chick hatches from its shell at around 5:20 p.m. under the watch of the female, Big Red. This marks one of the BEST EVER hatchings that we've experienced on the Cornell Hawks cam. More...

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.