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Red-tailed Hawk Nest Watch #1

July 22, 2017

3.19.17   I originally saw this empty nest while doing my winter raptor survey for East Cascades Audubon Society and today find a Red-tailed Hawk in it.   The nest is pretty high up in a tree and on private property.  Later, after investigating I found the owner and received permission to enter.

It was a beautiful day in the Gorge as I left to check on the other raptor nests I follow.

3.28.17   The Red-tailed Hawk looks like she’s incubating (keeping eggs warm).  At this point I am looking for the property owner’s permission so am not as close as I’d like.

4.25.17  A parent still sits on the nest.  Both parents share nest duty, so this could be Mom or Dad.  Incubation period for Red-tailed Hawks is 28 to 35 days.

Nest viewed from the road, the smaller trees are each about the size of a farmhouse.  I now have permission to hike in and plan to take cover under the smaller trees.  A long open hike in, I’ll have to somehow avoid parental detection.

Nesting parent’s mate watches me as I open the gate…

…and didn’t like me opening the gate.  Plan aborted, I will figure out a better way to slip in, undetected.

5.11.17   All looks the same from the road, I try to nonchalantly enter again.

Drat, caught again.  This time I am so close to cover that I duck under a tree and wait until the parents settle down.

When I dare lift my camera I catch a shot of a snake on the nest.  Food for chicks or possibly in the nest eating eggs!?  Worried about the family, I quickly leave so the parents can kill it if it’s the latter situation.

5.19.17  From the road I can see THREE CHICKS IN THE NEST!!  I’m still figuring out how to camouflage or otherwise slip in without disturbing the family.

5.23.17  I hike in at dawn, settle in under a tree, then see this sweet little nestling.  Plan worked!

5.27.17   Hiking in at dawn seems to work in avoiding parental stress from the Red-tailed Hawks, but they still see me hiking out..

I drink my morning coffee and eat muffins under the cover of nearby trees while I await the chicks to peer out under the sun.

Each time a parent notices me, I stop and wait for it to think I’m a rock… turns my hike out into an hour-long look at the surrounding fields as I make my way back to my car.  I hike a circular route so a predator following my scent won’t detect where the nest is.

Even though my day began at 4am I chose to stay up for the Aurora Borealis prediction.  If my eyelids could have stayed open another 5 minutes I could have shown you pillars and waves and more color but alas I needed sleep so headed home.

5.30.17    The nestling’s feathers are changing and I thought I saw the third sibling from this vantage point as they stretched their little wings.  It’s a big nest, about 6′ wide and quite sturdy.

6.3.17  Yay, here’s that definitive photo ~ showing THREE Red-tailed Hawk chicks!

Their feathers are growing in so fast, replacing the fuzzy white down.  They look so much the same I wonder if I’ll be able to tell them apart later.

A parent scolds me from above as I hike out.  Sorry.  Red-tailed Hawks mate for life…or as I often read, until one dies.  They return to the same area each year but not necessarily the same nest.

Did I say how early?  This early!  Hiking out is still a problem but at least they see that I’m walking AWAY from the nest.

6.8.17  Pouring rain, no one gets out of bed this morning.  Except me of course!

Hard to see, but one little eye looks out at me.

6.10.17  Standing like little sentries at the front door, the Red-tailed Hawk chicks are growing up fast.  Their nestling stage generally takes 42 – 46 days.

I crept under my cover trees to see the Lone Sentry at the back door.  Obviously I wasn’t sneaky enough.  Sorry!

6.13.17  A windy day, the entire tree rocked back and forth and everyone lies low.  My cover trees didn’t cover very well.

6.15.17  Kids are standing sentry again.  Looks like the nest is getting a bit crowded now as they grow.

6.17.17  Two chicks are standing in the nest, and check out the brave one on the front porch!  Close to fledge I think! 

 

6.19.17  When I arrive there’s only one chick in the nest!  Where’d everybody go?

Ahhh, there’s one sibling perched near the top of the tree, but I didn’t find the third.

Parents are still hunting to feed the chicks, but they’ll soon learn to feed themselves.

Mt Hood reflecting in the Columbia on my way to the next nest.

6.22.17   Nest looks empty, I wonder if it’s worth a walk out, but then I see junior on an upper left branch.

Parents are still circling overhead protecting their offspring.  What great parents they are to have successfully fledged a trio of chicks.

Here’s the last fledgling zoomed way in and cropped.

6.24.17   Red-tailed Hawk fledgling perched on utility pole. Today I watched from the road as they practiced flight skills.

They practice landing and taking off from a utility pole.

On my way home photographers are lining Hwy 14 to see this steam engine train as it travels through the Columbia River Gorge on the way to Bend.

6.27.17   One Red-tailed Hawk chick perched on a branch near his nest with no siblings in sight.

6.29.17  Although I did get to see all 3 siblings practice flight, landings and take-offs I couldn’t camouflage myself enough to hike in and get as many pictures as I did for Nest #2 which I’ll post soon.  We now have an empty nest, everyone has fledged.

7.4.17   I stopped by for one last look and got to watch the triplets soaring overhead.

The Red-tailed Hawk fledglings continue to practice landing and take-off.  The family will stay together while the fledglings build muscle, learn to hunt and become expert fliers.

More about Red-tailed Hawks at Hawk Watch International, American Birding Association, and Cornell’s All About Birds and a few questions answered from Cornell.

The introductory post in this series where you’ll find links to my other nests as I post them is Empty Nest

 

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4 Responses to “Red-tailed Hawk Nest Watch #1”

  1. cfortglass Says:

    just finished the Falcon post and it was awesome. Now I get to read this one. Thankx just like being in the car with you. xoxo c

    On Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 9:47 AM, Steider Studios Blog wrote:

    > Steider Studios posted: ” 3.19.17 I originally saw this empty nest while > doing my winter raptor survey for East Cascades Audubon Society and today > find a Red-tailed Hawk in it. The nest is pretty high up in a tree and on > private property. Later, after investigating I foun” >


  2. Thanks so much Charlene, when the dust settles let’s go raptor hunting together!

  3. darlene wilkinson Says:

    Thank you for this experience. If not for this I would not have the experience you shared. They are such wonders of nature.


  4. Thanks so much Darlene, I appreciate you coming with me on this adventure!


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