Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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November 05, 2015

Pre-winter Cam Maintenance Trip

We made a short trip to the nest today to clean the cam domes and button up a few loose ends on both the 2012/2015 and 2013-14 nest sites. We also replaced the audio on the 2013-14 site on the off chance that Big Red and Ezra re-use that site. Fingers crossed for another year of #cornellhawks action! 

November 02, 2015

Ezra and Big Red November Visit

It is always a big treat to see Ezra and Big Red swing by the nest late in the season. Is it too early to get excited for the G's in 2016?  

October 06, 2015

Big Red Visits the Nest

Big Red stops by the nest and takes a look around. You can hear vocalizing from the ground. A nice fall treat to see her on cam!  

November 02, 2015

Ezra and Big Red November Visit

It is always a big treat to see Ezra and Big Red swing by the nest late in the season. Is it too early to get excited for the G's in 2016?  

October 06, 2015

Big Red Visits the Nest

Big Red stops by the nest and takes a look around. You can hear vocalizing from the ground. A nice fall treat to see her on cam!  

September 12, 2015

E3 in Raptor Program at Migration Celebration

E3 was a perfect Red - tailed Hawk ambassador during the raptor program at the 2015 Migration and Centennial Celebration. Standing tall and proud he had the full attention of the audience. Thank you E3, the Cornell Raptor Program, and the awesome handlers who made it possible. It was a fantastic day with over 1400 people in attendance. 

November 05

Pre-winter Cam Maintenance Trip

We made a short trip to the nest today to clean the cam domes and button up a few loose ends on both the 2012/2015 and 2013-14 nest sites. We also replaced the audio on the 2013-14 site on the off chance that Big Red and Ezra re-use that site. Fingers crossed for another year of #cornellhawks action! 

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. 

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.