Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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July 08, 2015

Juvenile Passed Away

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of the Cornell Hawks juveniles yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, July 7. Birders-on-the-ground observed the young hawk pursuing a squirrel, and during the pursuit it flew into a window of Rice Hall on the Cornell campus and died from trauma related to the impact. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Companion Animal Hospital confirmed the hawk had passed away. There's no consensus as to the identity of the young hawk, but most think it was either F1 or F2. Surviving the first year of life for most birds is the most difficult year of their lives, and Red-tailed Hawks are no different. Learning to fly, hunt, and migrate successfully is a challenge, and estimates of first year mortality for Red-tails ranges from 50% to over 80%. The urban environment offers its own hazards, and these, too, must be mastered to be a successful hawk. While we are saddened about the loss of one of the F's, we are also hopeful that the remaining young continue to grow stronger through the summer and learn from the tutelage of Big Red, Ezra, and each other. Thanks to the Cornell Hawks community for your support at this sad time. 

June 24, 2015

Morning Flight by F3

After spending the night in the nest F3 took off with ease bathed in the morning sunlight. The young hawk was later spotted perched in a tree over the road from the nest. Thanks to Bird Cams viewer Elly K for the great clip. 

June 23, 2015

F1 Returns to Nest and Checks Out Cam

Balancing with great skill F1 walks the railing and checks out the cam before landing in the nest. 

June 24, 2015

Morning Flight by F3

After spending the night in the nest F3 took off with ease bathed in the morning sunlight. The young hawk was later spotted perched in a tree over the road from the nest. Thanks to Bird Cams viewer Elly K for the great clip. 

June 23, 2015

F1 Receives Prey Drop from Big Red

With the fledged hawks now scattered around the local vicinity of the nest Big Red and Ezra now need to coordinate prey drops for the juveniles at their various locations. In this clip by Bird Cams viewer Elly K we see F1 on the roof of the Cornell campus Rice Hall. Big Red brings in an item of prey and F1 eventually retrieves it from her above one of the windows. 

June 23, 2015

F1 Returns to Nest and Checks Out Cam

Balancing with great skill F1 walks the railing and checks out the cam before landing in the nest. 

July 08

Juvenile Passed Away

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of the Cornell Hawks juveniles yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, July 7. Birders-on-the-ground observed the young hawk pursuing a squirrel, and during the pursuit it flew into a window of Rice Hall on the Cornell campus and died from trauma related to the impact. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Companion Animal Hospital confirmed the hawk had passed away. There's no consensus as to the identity of the young hawk, but most think it was either F1 or F2. Surviving the first year of life for most birds is the most difficult year of their lives, and Red-tailed Hawks are no different. Learning to fly, hunt, and migrate successfully is a challenge, and estimates of first year mortality for Red-tails ranges from 50% to over 80%. The urban environment offers its own hazards, and these, too, must be mastered to be a successful hawk. While we are saddened about the loss of one of the F's, we are also hopeful that the remaining young continue to grow stronger through the summer and learn from the tutelage of Big Red, Ezra, and each other. Thanks to the Cornell Hawks community for your support at this sad time. 

June 22

F3 Fledged

The youngest Red-tailed Hawk nestling was the second juvenile to fledge. The oldest left the nest June 21, only to return the next day. Both F1 and F2 were present at the nest when F3 departed.  

June 22

F2 Fledged

The final Red-tailed Hawk has fledged at 19:48PM. All Cornell Hawks nestlings are now fledglings and are starting to explore their surroundings. The young will likely stay very near the nest for the first few days after fledging. During this period, the fledglings will remain fairly sedentary, though they may chase parents and beg for food. Parents deliver food directly or, more commonly, drop it nearby. They may remain in the immediate vicinity of the nest for 18–25 days. 

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 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.

 

20130315-EzraOnNest

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.