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Be a Better Birder Tutorial 2

Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

Find more about Weather in Ithaca, NY

August 25, 2014

Conversion to New Livestream

You may have noticed that we have just made the move from 'original' Livestream to 'New' Livestream. To view the 'New' Livestream site you can hover over the cam video above and click the Livestream logo in the bottom right hand corner. A bonus from moving to 'New' Livestream is that we can now scan back in time within each 8 hour recording. So if you have missed anything or want to see something again just hover over the cam video and drag the curser across the time bar to the point in time you would like to view. More...

August 08, 2014

E3 Continues his Positive Healing Journey

E3 continues to do well and is being habituated to larger spaces and taller perches. The veterinarians at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center report that he seems to enjoy himself and is using his injured wing with caution. He has a calm demeanor and a sweet personality that makes it easy to work with him. Progress is slow, but steady, and though updates may be less frequent, rest-assured that he is doing well and we will make sure to share any updates as his healing journey unfolds. 

July 27, 2014

E3 has Bandages Removed

Almost six weeks after injury, E3's bandage was able to be removed by the veterinarians at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center. The good news is that E3 seems comfortable without the bandage and is holding his wing in a nearly perfect position. However, at this time, his wing has a limited range of motion. This is to be expected after being wrapped, and because of the callus and scar tissue that have formed around the break. E3 has been slowly stretching his wing at his own pace, which is great as this activity increases the flexibility of his joints. Without a return to a full range of motion in his injured wing, it less likely that E3 will be releasable, but he still has a way to go with rehabilitation before the veterinarians know what he will ultimately be capable of doing. E3 has been preening and rearranging the new feathers that grew in over the injury site and continues to be a good patient. Here is a picture of him just after his bandage was removed. 

June 14, 2014

All Three Hawks Fledge!

By lunchtime we had an empty #CornellHawks nest! All hawks fledged. E2 left the nest just after 6AM in the morning shortly followed by E1. Both juveniles spent time together on the Plant Sciences building. Male parent Ezra later made a prey drop to the fledglings. Soon after the prey drop E3 fledged with a confident flight to a nearby tree.  

June 12, 2014

E2 Returns to Nest After Fledging

Amazingly after spending the morning on Weill Hall, on a ledge just higher than the ledge E2 first landed on after fledging, E2 returns to the nest to join E1 and E3 who are both yet to fledge. This same event occurred in 2012. Thank to ncaerie for the video clip. 

June 10, 2014

More Prey Drops for E2

E2 starts the day on the lower edge corner of the Plant Sciences building and later flies to the roof of the covered greenhouse. Around lunchtime Ezra attempts to deliver a chipmunk to E2, but delivers it to the other juveniles instead. Later in the afternoon E2 flies to a nearby tree, then flies down to some scrub on the ground and spends some time on the ground before landing on a railing out of view of the camera. Later E2 returns to the roof of the greenhouse. At 5:05PM Big Red delivers a chipmunk to E2, who then tries to swallow it whole! A dedicated volunteer 'Birder on the Ground' captured the moment when Big Red delivers a second chipmunk to E2 who was still perched on the greenhouse roof. E2 was out of view of the CornellHawks cam. After delivering the chipmunk Big Red returned to the nest with E1 and E3 (who have yet to fledge). Big Red consumed half a chipmunk and then carried the remaining half to the greenhouse roof where E2 continued to eat the chipmunk delivered earlier. Parent and juvenile then eat together. After 7PM Big Red delivers another chipmunk to E2. Both Big Red and Ezra kept a close eye on their young throughout the day, including the very active E2.  

July 19

E3 is Moved Outdoors to Continue Healing

E3 is still on the road to recovery and making progress. Though his wing is still wrapped, the veterinarians at the Janet Swanson Wildlife Health Center are pleased with how he is doing. They also decided he is well enough to be moved to an outdoor enclosure. Here, E3 can enjoy the outdoors outside of a clinical environment, but still continue to be monitored by his doctors.  

April 29

E3 Has Hatched

The final Red-tailed Hawk egg has hatched at 12:25PM, April 29, over 40 hours later than sibling E2. 

April 27

First Hawk Egg Has Hatched!

Early this morning the first sighting of E1 (the first egg to hatch in 2014) was seen via the infrared light. Welcome! 

Red-tailed Hawk


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


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 for at least the past four years. In 2012, 2013 and again in 2014, we installed cameras to get a better look at these majestic birds as they raise their young amid the bustle of a busy campus. So far, we’ve seen the birds bringing prey such as voles, squirrels, and pigeons to the nest.

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, making her nearly eleven years old.



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 is at least nine years old and was first banded in 2006 as an adult bird on Judd Falls Road near the Cornell campus.