Red-tailed Hawks

Location: Ithaca, NY

Camera Host: Cornell Lab

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April 23, 2018

First Red-tailed Hawk Eggs Are Hatching

One egg was first spotted with a small hole early in the evening on Saturday night (April 21), and by Monday morning two eggs were hatching. More...

April 18, 2018

Time Lapse Of Big Red Incubating Through A Snowstorm

Spring snowstorms are just another challenge that early-nesting species like Red-tailed Hawks have evolved to handle during their breeding season. Watch as 2.5 hours passes in about 20 seconds. 

April 11, 2018

Three Eggs In A Line On Cornell Hawks Cam

BR unveils her clutch of eggs after Arthur delivers a partially eaten rabbit to the nest.  

April 18, 2018

Time Lapse Of Big Red Incubating Through A Snowstorm

Spring snowstorms are just another challenge that early-nesting species like Red-tailed Hawks have evolved to handle during their breeding season. Watch as 2.5 hours passes in about 20 seconds. 

April 11, 2018

Three Eggs In A Line On Cornell Hawks Cam

BR unveils her clutch of eggs after Arthur delivers a partially eaten rabbit to the nest.  

April 06, 2018

Snowy Incubation Switch On Cornell Hawks Cam

Akin to the neighborhood postman, neither rain, sleet, nor snow will stop the Red-tailed Hawks from their incubation duties! Here, Arthur relieves a snow-covered Big Red and carefully settles over the eggs as blustering winds direct a near horizontal snowfall over the nest.  

April 23

First Red-tailed Hawk Eggs Are Hatching

One egg was first spotted with a small hole early in the evening on Saturday night (April 21), and by Monday morning two eggs were hatching. More...

March 22

Three Eggs for Big Red and Arthur!

Earlier this evening, Big Red stood up and revealed a third egg! Each year that she has nested on cam, she has laid three eggs, and this year is shaping up to match past years' efforts.  

March 19

Big Red Lays Second Egg On Red-tailed Hawk Cam!

Egg #2 is here! Watch The brown-speckled egg was unveiled to the world just minutes after BR hunkered down in the nest to lay at around 1:40 P.M. nest time. If Big Red continues her trend of laying three-egg clutches, we should expect another egg sometime in the next 2.5–3 days. 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, 2015, and 2018 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 attempted 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.