Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

Find more about Weather in Ithaca, NY

April 17, 2019

Arthur Delivers Rat to Big Red and Takes Over Incubation

Big Red calls in Arthur, who arrives at the nest with an offering of a big rat in his talons. Big Red obliges, and Arthur takes over incubation duties for the time being.  

April 16, 2019

Early Morning Stick Delivery and Vocalizations On Cornell Hawks Cam

On a bright sunny morning, Arthur delivers a stick and Big Red seems to peep in response. Arthur doesn't stick around and makes a small grunting noise as he departs.  

April 12, 2019

Arthur Brings In Pigeon, Takes Over Incubation Duties

With a feather-covered bill, Arthur brings in a half-eaten pigeon and takes over incubation duties from Big Red on another windy day on Cornell campus.  

April 17, 2019

Arthur Delivers Rat to Big Red and Takes Over Incubation

Big Red calls in Arthur, who arrives at the nest with an offering of a big rat in his talons. Big Red obliges, and Arthur takes over incubation duties for the time being.  

April 16, 2019

Early Morning Stick Delivery and Vocalizations On Cornell Hawks Cam

On a bright sunny morning, Arthur delivers a stick and Big Red seems to peep in response. Arthur doesn't stick around and makes a small grunting noise as he departs.  

April 12, 2019

Arthur Brings In Pigeon, Takes Over Incubation Duties

With a feather-covered bill, Arthur brings in a half-eaten pigeon and takes over incubation duties from Big Red on another windy day on Cornell campus.  

March 29

Big Red Lays Egg #3 In Cornell Hawks Nest!

Big Red just laid her third egg of 2019! Watch the entire egg-laying process in which Big Red hunkers down, lays the egg, and finally rises to check on it. The eggs in this clutch were all laid three days apart on March 23, 26, and 29. Big Red has laid three eggs in each nesting season since the Red-tailed Hawk cam started broadcasting in 2012. Red-tailed Hawks have been known to lay 4-egg clutches on occasion, but based on BR's history, we expect this may be the end of the egg-laying period for the Cornell Hawks. Way to go Big Red and Arthur! More...

March 26

Big Red Lays Egg #2!

And then there were two! Big Red hunkered down and laid another egg in the Red-tailed Hawk nest this afternoon. Get a glimpse at both eggs as she rises off the nest to reposition them during an incubation break. If Big Red's history is any indicator, a third egg will put the finishing touches on the egg-laying period in the next 48–72 hours. More...

March 23

"Egg-citing" News: Red-tailed Hawk Breeding Season Begins As Big Red Lays First Egg

Our favorite pair of Red-tailed Hawks is at it again. Amidst feverish anticipation, Big Red and Arthur officially kicked off another breeding season on Saturday, March 23, as BR laid an egg in their nest overlooking Cornell University's bustling campus. Watch this clip to see BR unveil the egg shortly after 5 PM. Arthur arrives soon after to check up on his mate. Good luck this season Arthur and BR!  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.