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Red-tailed Hawk Nest Watch #2

July 23, 2017

4.9.17   As I watch this nest on the first afternoon, Dad swoops in with a treat for Mom!  The nest is on a road with light traffic which the hawk family seems comfortable with.  I am able to park off pavement (barely) and observe this family quietly without disturbing them.

4.20.17  This post is probably my longest in this series as I spent the most amount of time with this family, thanks to a lead from Nancy at a wildlife photography presentation I gave for ‘Wild About Nature‘.  Mom does most of the incubating, which takes 28 to 35 days.

4.23.17   My day starts at sunrise from Rowena Crest, then I head out past the Deschutes River to visit the Red-tailed Hawk family.

A parent is still laying in the nest, but wait….are those little downy white feathers I see?????  Could we have chicks????

5.2.17 Hard to say if there is a chick yet as Mom is still lying low in her deep nest.

5.4.17   Today Mom is no longer lying low….Plus I can see little white downy feathers.  If we have chicks, their nestling period is 42 to 46 days.

Lucky me to see Dad fly in with lunch!  I read that the female feeds the chicks and is the main nest duty parent.  Dad does most of the hunting but Mom helps once the chicks can be left ‘home alone’.

5.11.17  Outrunning the rain at dark thirty in the morning to check all my raptor nests, I hope I can keep up with my plan to watch each nest until all chicks fledge.

Both parents are at the nest when I arrive today and I did not outrun the rain.  I decide to park and watch anyway.

One parent takes off…

…the other shakes off the rain.  No visible chicks yet.  Red-tailed Hawks mate for life…or as it’s often said “until one mate dies”.   I find myself wondering how long this pair have been together, their nest is large and sturdy.

5.15.16   WE HAVE A CHICK!!!  I do a little happy dance … silently and motionless inside my car!!!

I watched Mom tenderly feed her chick.

Zoomed in a little closer, he is so precious.  Baby hawks are called eyasses but many refer to them as chicks like other birds…I think they should be called hawkettes.

5.23.17  When I arrive I notice feathers embedded in the tree above the nest and no parent around.  I’m told later by the coordinator of The Feather Atlas that these are Red-tailed Hawk feathers so I wonder what happened to the parent and how those feathers got there.  If it isn’t a parent, who is it?  In the wild, Red-tailed Hawks live less than 12 years generally (in captivity they can live as long as 30 years).  Many die in their first year just from inexperience…they may starve but like other raptors, they are hit by cars, electrocuted by power lines or shot.

The good news is I can see TWO chicks, the one standing and another fuzzy little white head in front.

5.25.17   Awww, clearly I can now see both sibling Red-tailed Hawks.  Simply too cute for words.

5.27.17  Most of the neighbors just smile and wave as I shoot from my car, but today a kind young fellow stopped to talk.  I learned that this nest and the Great Horned Owl nest down the road are fought over each year by the hawk and owl.

As we chat, I catch a glimpse of a parent hawk bringing home a snake for lunch.

As it flew closer, the snake looked bigger.  I read that they take the prey head off with their talons, but it was still moving when placed in the nest.

The tree trunk prevents me from seeing a lot of arrivals and departures, but the kids don’t miss anything.

No different from any kid after a big meal, there is some business to attend to.  This is how raptors keep a clean nest!

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

5.30.17  The chicks call for a parent to feed them.  Constantly.

Sure enough, a parent shows up with food!  Most of the food I’ve seen brought back to the nest are snakes and rodents of some sort, but they also eat squirrels, rabbits, and birds.

Mom feeds Little Sibling.

Older Sibling is annoyed….Sibling Rivalry?

6.3.17   Chicks are standing at the edge of their nest!  Be careful kids!  Look at those brown flight feathers growing in!

Stretch those little wings!!

After eating and stretching, the Red-tailed Hawk chicks settle down in their nest.  I call it a good day.

6.8.17  A heavy rainstorm today and I find a Red-tailed Hawk chick alone in the nest. WHERE IS YOUR SIBLING?

He looks so miserable.  What could have happened to his little brother?  I can’t find him anywhere.  Mother Nature, you are so cruel!!

Adding insult to injury, the blackbirds won’t leave him alone.  I spent a long morning watching and wondering.

6.10.17   I can’t stop thinking about this lone little chick and thought maybe I didn’t search thoroughly enough for his sibling.  Alas, what I find is dismaying.  The lone chick is in his nest and it looks like a parent crashed into the tree under his nest.

I don’t know if this is the only parent, due to the feathers seen weeks ago above the nest, so I decide to call Rowena Wildlife Clinic for advice.   “Wait and watch … see if there’s a parent still feeding….” and other pertinent info.  Thank you Leigh for being there!

Meanwhile, the lone chick is jumping on his bed like there’s no tomorrow.

Seemingly delighted to have the place to himself.  In the meantime, I worry and wait and wait and wait.

6.11.17   I return today for a follow-up, for both RWC and myself.  Yay, he has food so someone is feeding him!  I won’t have to go catch mice or snakes and throw them up to his nest.  Yes, I was thinking I would have to become his meal provider!

6.13.17  I’m so relieved to actually SEE a parent flying in with food.  I’m still pondering what happened to the parent under the nest.

Yum, snake seems like the food most readily available.

6.15.17  Once again I see the remaining parent bring home food.  I’m checking as often as I can now to be sure both remaining raptors are ok.

Afterward the parent gets harassed by blackbirds again.  Makes me wonder if blackbirds forced the other parent into the tree…  Or was the other parent defending his chick from a predator, since the chick disappeared the same time as the parent’s crash… Or…

She takes off in flight….

…while her chick jumps on the bed again.  omg so cute!  His feathers are changing rapidly now, look at that beautiful color.

As I wait and watch I notice the wheat fields nearby have grown tall.

6.17.17  I arrive to find the Red-tailed Hawk chick standing on a perch outside his nest.  I haven’t seen him fly, but he can hop up to the perch/landing where his parent delivers food!

6.19.17  It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Little Red Tail gets harassed again by blackbirds while he tries to practice for his first flight.

Looks like a standoff to me.

Sheesh, who knew blackbirds were such bullies!  I guess all’s fair in love & war and this looks like war.

6.22.17  Little Red Tail calls loudly for his parent.

Remember how pathetic he looked that rainy day when I discovered his sibling missing?  What a difference, he’s so beautiful and strong now!

6.24.17   Little Red Tail is further away from the nest on a higher branch and can ‘fly/hop’ from branch to branch above the nest!   It’s about to get exciting….

His parent flies overhead……

Little Red Tail takes off in flight chasing and calling his parent!!!  His calls sounded downright gleeful to my ears.

I’m not sure how this happened, it was so fast.  Either the parent led the fledgling to the rodent in the field, or perhaps the parent dropped it for the fledgling to find.  Little Red Tail pounced on it, played with it for a tiny while, then began to eat.  Now I know how they learn to hunt!!

After eating his own ‘catch’, Little Red Tail takes off from the field and awkwardly lands in a ‘new’ tree farther from his nest.  Learning by leaps and bounds now!!

7.4.17  My last nest check, I am thrilled to see Little Red Tail soaring in the sky across wheat fields.  I’m sad to end his story here but happy knowing the little guy made it this far.

A last look at Mt Hood and wheat fields as I leave the area, wishing Little Red Tail the very best.

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

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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2 Responses to “Red-tailed Hawk Nest Watch #2”

  1. Coral Says:

    Linda, these are majestic as always…thank you for sharing. I watch Natgo-Wild and on their “Bandit Patrol” program I have seen how these beautiful Raptors survive.. even after injuries.. great show. Between you and the program I have learned so much…
    Thankd you dear friend…Coral


  2. Thanks so much Coral, I always appreciate your comments!


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