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Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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March 27, 2017

Big Red Update: Stranger on the Nest

After a quiet weekend on the Fernow nest, it was a surprise to see an unknown Red-tail make a visit to the cam site just before midday. The unknown visitor only hung around for about 20 minutes before leaving the nest (see the clip), and the bird's stay was shortly followed up by a stint from Big Red. Thanks to an on-the-scene account from BOGs Karel and Bogette, we know that BR was joined by at least two other Red-tailed Hawks in the vicinity for about an hour. During this time, BR made trips to both the Fernow and Weill nest sites and participated in separate, seemingly non-aggressive, soaring events with each of the visiting Red-tails. BR has since been back to the Fernow nest on multiple occasions this morning (March 27). We will continue to provide updates on BR and the nest, as only time will tell what the future holds. 

March 23, 2017

Update on Big Red

Following the unfortunate news of Ezra's death, many people have been wondering what Big Red has been doing over the past couple of days, and we'd like to update everyone with the information we've received so far. Yesterday afternoon around 1:30 p.m., Birders on the Ground Karel and BOGette spotted Big Red and an unidentified Red-tail (presumably a male) engaged in an aerial courtship display over Beebe Lake. Suzanne Horning, another BOG, shared that she observed BR alight from the nest pole on campus and join another hawk heading back towards the lake later that afternoon. This event was followed by an additional BR sighting by Karel and BOGette in the evening near Beebe Lake where she was observed sunning herself and hunting. Finally, we were greeted with this view of Big Red's return to the on-camera nest near Fernow Hall earlier this afternoon. While it's refreshing to hear that BR is spending time with other Red-tails, only time will tell if she will secure another mate for this breeding season or nest in the same area. Little is documented about these situations, but a few observations suggest that a Red-tailed Hawk could acquire a new mate within as little 1-2 days after its previous mate's disappearance. We extend our deep gratitude to all of the BOGs who've updated us on Big Red's whereabouts and behavior. We will continue to update as we hear more. 

March 21, 2017

Sad News about Ezra.

As some of you may know, Ezra has not been seen on the Cornell Hawks cam or on the Cornell campus for the past several days, and worries have been mounting. We are extremely sad to have to share the news with you that we learned this evening that Ezra has died. Please click "More" to read the full story and share your thoughts and memories of Ezra in pictures or words in the enhanced commenting section. More...

March 27, 2017

Big Red Update: Stranger on the Nest

After a quiet weekend on the Fernow nest, it was a surprise to see an unknown Red-tail make a visit to the cam site just before midday. The unknown visitor only hung around for about 20 minutes before leaving the nest (see the clip), and the bird's stay was shortly followed up by a stint from Big Red. Thanks to an on-the-scene account from BOGs Karel and Bogette, we know that BR was joined by at least two other Red-tailed Hawks in the vicinity for about an hour. During this time, BR made trips to both the Fernow and Weill nest sites and participated in separate, seemingly non-aggressive, soaring events with each of the visiting Red-tails. BR has since been back to the Fernow nest on multiple occasions this morning (March 27). We will continue to provide updates on BR and the nest, as only time will tell what the future holds. 

March 23, 2017

Update on Big Red

Following the unfortunate news of Ezra's death, many people have been wondering what Big Red has been doing over the past couple of days, and we'd like to update everyone with the information we've received so far. Yesterday afternoon around 1:30 p.m., Birders on the Ground Karel and BOGette spotted Big Red and an unidentified Red-tail (presumably a male) engaged in an aerial courtship display over Beebe Lake. Suzanne Horning, another BOG, shared that she observed BR alight from the nest pole on campus and join another hawk heading back towards the lake later that afternoon. This event was followed by an additional BR sighting by Karel and BOGette in the evening near Beebe Lake where she was observed sunning herself and hunting. Finally, we were greeted with this view of Big Red's return to the on-camera nest near Fernow Hall earlier this afternoon. While it's refreshing to hear that BR is spending time with other Red-tails, only time will tell if she will secure another mate for this breeding season or nest in the same area. Little is documented about these situations, but a few observations suggest that a Red-tailed Hawk could acquire a new mate within as little 1-2 days after its previous mate's disappearance. We extend our deep gratitude to all of the BOGs who've updated us on Big Red's whereabouts and behavior. We will continue to update as we hear more. 

March 13, 2017

BR and EZ Make Monday Morning Nestorations

Big Red and Ezra started the work week off by adding to and rearranging the nest near Fernow Hall. 

March 21

Sad News about Ezra.

As some of you may know, Ezra has not been seen on the Cornell Hawks cam or on the Cornell campus for the past several days, and worries have been mounting. We are extremely sad to have to share the news with you that we learned this evening that Ezra has died. Please click "More" to read the full story and share your thoughts and memories of Ezra in pictures or words in the enhanced commenting section. 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 and 2015, 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 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.

 

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 was first banded in 2006 as an adult bird on Judd Falls Road near the Cornell campus.