Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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May 23, 2018

Feeding Time For Red-tailed Hawk Chicks

Big Red's arrival signals feeding time for the H's as they circle around her and quickly snatch bits of chipmunk from her bill.  

May 23, 2018

UPDATE: Participant Limit Reached For Testing New Bird Cams Lab Project

We received an amazing response from the community after putting out a call to test our new pilot project called Bird Cams Lab. The purpose of the project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to bring cam viewers and scientists together to watch the cams online, ask questions, and embark on co-designed investigations to reveal new insights about birds and nature. With your help we're building this project from the ground up, and we've reached our quota number of participants for the first round of testing in less than 24 hours—thanks to everyone who signed up to help! If you missed out on signing up this time, don't worry. This first round of testing involves an intentionally small number of participants, so we can get feedback on whether or not the ideas and tools we are developing work well. As the project evolves, the goal is that anyone will be able to participate in any stage of an ongoing co-created investigation, so there will be many more opportunities for interested parties to get involved. 

May 22, 2018

Arthur Swoops in With a Frog, BR Follows and Feeds Chicks

Watch Arthur swoop in with a frog in his talons and deposit it on the nest. Big Red follows right behind to snatch the snack and feed it to the pair's hungry chicks. 

May 23, 2018

Feeding Time For Red-tailed Hawk Chicks

Big Red's arrival signals feeding time for the H's as they circle around her and quickly snatch bits of chipmunk from her bill.  

May 22, 2018

Close Look at a Young Red-tail's Tail Feathers

Check out the young chicks' tail feathers sprouting out of their waxy sheaths. Red-tailed Hawks actually lack their namesake red tails for their first year of life; they begin molting into their adult plumage in their second year. 

May 22, 2018

Arthur Swoops in With a Frog, BR Follows and Feeds Chicks

Watch Arthur swoop in with a frog in his talons and deposit it on the nest. Big Red follows right behind to snatch the snack and feed it to the pair's hungry chicks. 

April 26

Egg #3 Hatches, Three Chicks In Cornell Hawks Nest!

After over 24 hours of pipping and 35 days of incubation, H3 hatched from its egg! Get a quick look at Big Red and Arthur's third and final chick when BR steps back to feed her nestlings in this quick highlight. Now that all three chicks have hatched, Big Red and Arthur are challenged with finding enough food to turn these hungry hatchlings into fledglings over the next 45–50 days. More...

April 23

Egg #1 Hatches, Big Red Reveals Two Chicks In The Nest!

Big Red rises from the nest and allows viewers the first sneak peek at her two hatchlings on the Red-tailed Hawk cam. The second chick, H2, hatched from the pair's first egg (laid on March 16) after 38 days of incubation! More...

April 23

Egg #2 Hatches, Cornell Hawks Have Their First Chick!

The hawk's first chick had officially emerged from its shell! Watch fluffy-headed hatchling clumsily wriggle around the nest bowl underneath BR's watchful eye. Interestingly, this chick is from egg #2, meaning it hatched prior to the hawks' first egg (which is also well on it's way to hatching). Welcome to the world H1! 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.