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3.23.17  I’ve watched this Bald Eagle’s nest for at least five years, intermittently photographing the family.  This year I decided to photo-document every 4 to 5 days, (then 2 to 3 days, then every other day as the eaglet grew closer to fledging) to see and share the progress with you.  In addition to our national emblem, the Bald Eagle is a spiritual symbol for our native people.

After my first shots of the eagle nesting I headed out to see how fast and furious the spring waterfalls were flowing here in the Gorge.

4.9.17  Mom’s still on the nest.  Bald Eagles mate for life and this pair return to the same nest each year.  Another resident pair of Bald Eagles on the Oregon side of the Columbia also return to their nest each year.  Both parents share nest duty, but the female has the larger share while the male hunts or fishes.

4.16.17  A gorgeous sunrise over Mt Adams on my way down to the Bald Eagle nest.

As I arrive, Mom is on the nest.  As with most raptors, the female is larger than the male.

After a little while, Mom begins calling for Dad…Dad arrives and immediately starts calling for Mom!  At one point they were in the nest together, which makes it easier to tell who is who.

Dad left shortly before Mom flew back into the nest.  She settled in and I quietly crept away, delighted to see the family interaction.  This is a nest I hike to, down a steep hillside and heavily trafficked road.

4.23.17   A breezy morning, my view of the nest is constantly hidden by foliage on nearby trees.  Bald Eagles can live long lives ~ the longest known eagle in the wild was over 38 years when it was struck by a car and died.

Not sure which parent is in the nest and which is on the branch.  They must be side by side for me to tell them apart at this stage of my Eagle Education.  The white head indicates they are at least 5 years old.

4.25.17  Parent is still incubating in this huge nest.  Bald Eagles build nests that are typically 5 to 6 feet wide and 2 to 4 feet deep.

4.28.17  The Bald Eagle parent sits at the side of the nest today instead of incubating, so a chick probably hatched between 4.25 and 4.28.17   No photo to share as my informant didn’t take one.

4.30.17  Dad is waiting for Mom to come home so he can go fishing.  They typically eat fish, but will also consume birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small to medium mammals.

Mom’s home! They’re not quite side by side but you can see Mom in the back is slightly larger than Dad.

Dad takes off to do a little fishing for the family.

Isn’t he Gorgeous!

Mom ‘rearranges furniture’.  When they build a nest, both mates bring sticks (and branches!), and grass, moss, and soft plant material to line the nest, but the female does most of the arranging.

She ruffles her feathers…..

…then tends to her chick.  The chick in the nest that I still can’t see….

5.4.17   This morning I arrive in time to hear one parent calling to the other…and look closer!

We have an EAGLET!!  Isn’t he adorable?  He’s now called a ‘nestling’ and will remain so for 56 to 98 days.

5.11.17   A rainy day, one parent perches above the nest while the other parent works to feed the family.

Little Eaglet is already losing his white downy fuzz.

5.15.17  Today I arrive in time for breakfast.  Mom brought in a fish earlier for the youngster.

Looks like a tasty bite of salmon.

Mom also gets a little nourishment.

I personify, and emotionally attach myself to this family.  And wouldn’t you agree this is a tender beautiful moment.

Mom hires me to take a parent and eaglet portrait

5.19.17   A hot sultry day, everyone is trying to stay cool under the hot sun including me.

5.23.17   I’m invited to another meal at the Eagle Nest.

5.28.17   Even though I began the previous day at 4am I chose to stay up for the Aurora Borealis prediction.  If my eyelids could have stayed open another 5 minutes I would show you pillars and waves but alas I needed sleep so headed home for a couple of hours sleep before checking on the eaglet.

Steller’s Jays harass the eagle family today and swallows often fly around the nest.

Little Eaglet stretches his wings as Mom perches above the nest and Dad perches below.

5.30.17  Eaglet is on the other side of Mom on this windy day, probably just lying low.  I always worry about the eaglet falling out of the tree-top nest; it has happened in the past.

6.3.17  Little Eaglet is home alone today!  

I watch him preen his beautiful feathers.  He’ll remain dark for his first year and will keep that dark beak and dark eyes.

6.8.17  I can barely see the eaglet hunkered down in his nest as a parent perches on a branch above.  We have a cold, rainy day in the Gorge and I would hunker down too if I were home.

6.11.17   I went down to the Eagle nest early in the evening for better light and found him stretching his wings and jumping in his nest.  I’ve seen this action before and it’s fun to watch a raptor learn how to fly…I equate it with kids jumping on the bed.  Eventually wind will catch his wings and lift him up off the nest.

He dances around the nest for half an hour, then settles for a minute and dances again.

He’s still very young and won’t be ready to fly for a few more weeks…..

….but what do I know…look at him go, it could be any day!

 6.13.17  Each day his wings are stronger and I’m happy to arrive during his dance sessions.

He has more oomph in his efforts…

…until he finally has lift-off, and jumps higher.

6.15.17  Another gray Gorge day, the Eaglet lays so low in his nest I can barely see him.  For a moment I thought he fledged without me!

6.17.17   A beautiful day in the Columbia River Gorge!

I went back to the Eagle nest near sunset hoping for more great light.  Evening is so much better than morning light for this nest!

Little Eaglet practicing flight techniques as I arrive….I can feel the power in his wings growing.

And he’s learning to master the wind!

He is incredible to watch, I could stand here for hours on end.

As the sun goes down the eaglet lays down to rest.

All evening I’d heard his parents calling from above and finally caught a glimpse of one.

6.22.17   Another early start, looking west down the gorge on my ‘commute to work’.

Little Eaglet is my last stop of the day and I watch him as he looks out over the Columbia River.

The late afternoon light is lovely today as he practices his flight techniques.

He looks so determined in this shot like he’s going to jump right off that nest and into flight.  He’s getting so close to the edge of the nest lately that some of the nest material is spilling out.

6.23.17  Little Eaglet looks almost as large as his parents.

6.24.17  I check the nest frequently now because it feels like the eaglet will fledge any day.

He continues to practice his flight skills.

6.26.17  Just chillin’.

6.27.17   A windy day, his feathers need some preening to put them back in place.

6.29.17   It’s always amazing to watch the family dynamics of the Bald Eagles at meal times.

Dad arrives home with breakfast.

Little Eaglet with head down and shoulders hunched politely waits his turn to eat.

Mom and Dad converse….

Dad takes off and Mom finally says it’s ok for Junior to eat.

7.1.17  Little Eaglet is resting on another windy afternoon.  I hope he navigates his way through a long life.  The most common causes for Bald Eagles’ deaths are electrocution from power lines, trauma from impact with cars or buildings, and poisoning from lead bullets or chemical pollutants.

7.2.17   Little Eaglet jumps higher and higher in his nest.

He lands with a firm touch-down.

And then propels himself higher than ever!  Are you ready to fly little guy??!!

A parent flies in with breakfast…

…which makes him focus on eating instead of jumping.

Right after breakfast, Little Eaglet goes back to jumping in the nest!  He is SO READY TO FLY!!

7.4.17  After another jumping session this morning, Little Eaglet jumps high and steers himself to the perch above his nest.

His parents have tried to lure him there by calling to him from the perch, then flying off either to fish or to the perch where Dad sits.

He kind of skitters and clumsily lands it, but he has officially fledged.

And here he sits!  A Fledgling!!

I saw him there again a couple of days later; then not again for several days.  The last time I saw him he was back in his nest eating a fish that I hope he caught himself.  On subsequent visits Little Eaglet wasn’t home.  His parents will be back to rebuild this nest next year and this winter we’ll host hundreds of migrating eagles on the Columbia River.

For more about Bald Eagles check out  National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, Cornell’s All About Birds, and Wildlife Society Bulletin

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

 

5.25.17   As I sit in my car observing Red-tailed Hawk Nest #2, a woman stops to chat with me.  I always appreciate that because I learn more about the history and people of the area.  This is a special conversation ~ she tells me about yet another Red-Tailed Hawk nest only a couple of miles away!  And again, it is barely off the road!!  Yep, I am now watching THREE Red-tailed Hawk families!!!

5.27.17  The parent shields her chicks from the hot sun as there is no shade other than the utility pole.  This nest seems a bit small and frail which makes me wonder if it’s a new set of parents.

5.30.17  I know these shots look similar, I tend to arrive about the same time each day.  I don’t stay long at this nest because the road is too close to the nest and obviously makes the family uncomfortable.  Mom tells me to depart immediately!

6.3.17   On my way to the nest I have to stop for an early morning shot of Mt Hood.

Hard for me to tell at this stage which is the older or larger chick.  I missed the incubation stage (28 to 35 days) for this family, but the nestling period for Red-tailed Hawks is 42 to 46 days.

The chicks settle down in the nest.  Baby hawks are called eyasses but many refer to them as chicks and if you read my Hawk Nest #2 post, you know that I think they should be called hawkettes.

6.8.17   It is pouring rain.  The Red-tailed Hawk parent protects her chicks.

6.10.17  The parent is out of the nest today, watching from a nearby utility pole while the other parent soars over a nearby farmer’s fields.

The kids stay in bed and don’t move around much the short time I am here.   A quick stop to check on the chicks, then I’m on my way.

6.11.17  Nice to see you sitting up!  Look at all those big brown flight feathers!!

6.13.17  Both chicks have new feathers growing in and are looking around their environment with interest.

6.15.17   I check my nests every other day now because a couple of nests are close to fledging.  This pair doesn’t seem close at all.

Look at that big stretch!  You can really see the brown feathers filling in.

Doesn’t he look like a little prince?

As I watch this nest and Red-tailed Hawk Nest #2, I notice how tall the wheat is growing.

6.17.17  Sibling rivalry?  The youngest hawk chick siblings are getting darker ~ check out the tail feathers on the right chick.

6.19.17  A beautiful sunny day as I arrive at the nest site.

The hawk chicks are maturing quickly now.  As the youngest nest, they have a few weeks to catch up with their counterparts.

A parent watches from a utility pole down the road.

6.22.17   HEARTBROKEN!!!  Where’s the nest?  The day before, Mother Nature provided a big gust of wind on summer solstice that blew the nest down.  From my car I don’t see the nest or family so I abandon caution, park and jump out to find them.

A parent is frantically calling as she flies overhead, then lands on a post in the field.  I see what must have been the nest strewn across the same field.

After searching from every angle, I finally find one chick in the field.  I hope his sibling is nearby in shade.  Yes.  I called Rowena Wildlife Clinic again to learn what I should do.  “Leave them alone, their parents will provide.”  A reluctant ok from me because they hadn’t even begun to practice flight skills.  Or maybe hopefully they have and I didn’t see it.  Leigh said to call her back tomorrow if the situation worsens.  Again, thank you Leigh.

6.23.17  I return to find one sibling on the ground, but not the other.  I can’t tell if it’s sleeping or….

A parent is still around keeping watch, so I have nothing to report to RWC.

WAIT!  There’s one sibling safely perched behind a wire fence.  I’ll check back on you kids tomorrow.

6.24.17  One Red-tailed Hawk chick is still in the field not looking good & I can’t find the sibling.  No other word for my thoughts but heartbroken…..

6.27.17  Started as a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  I’m holding out hope for the little Red-tailed Hawks.

From across the field I find one sibling perched on a branch behind the fence. YAY!!

I am ecstatic to find the missing chick near his sibling.  See him on the ground in front of the wheat to the right? Maybe he’s just been hiding in the wheat fields!  I confess relief washes over me.

6.29.17  I search and search for the youngest of my Red-tailed Hawk chicks…

They are not anywhere near where I’d last seen them.

Finally I see one chick farther out and sitting on a post!

A parent sits on a utility pole in the distance, but once again I have a missing chick.

7.2.17   A Red-tailed Hawk parent floats in the sky overhead.

The other parent sits on a utility pole surveying the field.

I find one sibling perched on a snag again.

No sight of his brother despite my search.

The wheat fields near this nest have changed color.

7.4.17   My last visit to this nest, I watch the little Red-tailed Hawk ~ now officially a fledgling ~ fly from his perch to a fence post farther out in the field.  I still hold out hope for the other.

His parents are both still flying overhead as I leave.  They’ve probably already begun teaching the little hawk how to hunt.  I hope next year these parents build a bigger, stronger nest!

One last look at this beautiful view on my way out of the area.

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

 

5.2.17   My friend cjflick was helping me with the Prairie Falcon nest site, confirming some facts and shared some historical falcon nest sites with me.  As we looked at this particular site we spotted a Peregrine Falcon in flight with prey, so followed it to see where it landed.

We were practically dancing with delight when we saw it land on this former Red-tailed Hawk nest and watched its mate fly away.  Peregrines typically lay their eggs on bare rock, called a scrape; or take over an old nest and parents share nest duty.  Incubation takes 29 to 32 days.

This nest is high on a cliff ledge, the furthest distance of all the nests I follow so please forgive my picture quality.

5.4.17  I watch the Peregrine Falcon flying in toward the nest with prey in its talons.  They generally eat birds and surprising to me, bats!  The pair mates for life as do many raptors and return to the same breeding ground each year but not necessarily the same nest site.

The parent lands in the nest with breakfast.  The falcon blends in with background cliff rocks.  Nest sites are generally on high cliffs, away from predators.

5.11.17  Today I don’t see any Peregrine Falcons but that doesn’t mean she’s not on the nest.  Incubation period is 29 to 32 days if she’s laying on eggs.

5.15.17   I see a Peregrine Falcon adult on the nest, not incubating according to its posture,  so I’m guessing we has chicks!

5.19.17   I can see a FUZZY WHITE CHICK but barely!!  His head pokes up toward the left middle part of the nest and stands out against the dark rock background.

5.23.17   Today I can clearly see three Peregrine Falcon chicks high up in their nest!!!  Nestling period averages 38 days.

5.25.17  Peregrine Falcon chicks are still difficult to see, but their fuzzy little white heads are peeking up just above the rim of the nest.

5.27.17   A downy little Peregrine Falcon chick is oh so close to the edge of his nest, just beginning his young life.  The average life span of these raptors is 7 to 15 years.  The oldest banded Peregrine was close to 20 years old according to Cornell’s All About Birds.

 

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.

5.28.17  A Peregrine Falcon parent sits in a tree high above the nest while I listen to the chicks calling.  Osprey also loudly call and fish nearby.

The kids must all be asleep, I see no activity.

5.30.17   I’m trying to remember to show my surroundings while ‘nest-watching’ and this is another early morning start to see as many nests as possible in a day.

Even though I’m far away, I can see dark feathers growing on the nestlings.  Like Prairie Falcons, chicks are called Eyases….a fellow raptor enthusiast suggests Falconette, which I like better.

Peregrine Falcon chicks stretch their little wings, showing the dark flight feathers growing in!  I’m guessing they’re about 5 weeks old based on what I’ve read.  Peregrines are the fastest bird in the world, diving over 200 mph in pursuit of prey, with a normal ‘cruising’ speed of 24 to 33 mph.

6.3.17  Another very early morning to check my nests, starting with the Peregrine Falcon.

The chicks are quickly growing, compare this shot to the fuzzy chick’s first wing stretch just a few days ago.  I can hear them steadily call for their parents.

6.8.17  In five days time most of the remaining white feathers have turned brown on this trio of Peregrine Falcon chicks.

Rain with gray sky ~ not the best background, but still happy to see the falcon parent hunting overhead.

6.10.17   The Peregrine Falcon chicks explore the rim of their nest and surrounding rocks and crevices.

They race back and forth across the nest.  Look at those wings!  It makes me think they’ll fledge sooner rather than later!

6.13.17   The trio matures at a fast pace, exploring more outside the nest.  Parents place food farther away, luring the chicks farther beyond the nest.  Eventually parents will exchange food with the fledglings in flight, training them to catch flying prey.

I wonder how much more time I’ll have with this little family as the chicks gain maturity so quickly.

The Peregrine Falcon parent is easy to spot in the sky, but difficult to catch as she’s so fast.  Like most raptors, the female is larger but it’s difficult to tell them apart when not together.  According to Jim Watson, Wildlife Research Scientist at Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, the wing beat for a male in powered flight is more rapid and Kestrel-like, whereas with a female you can better distinguish individual wing beats… also the male is bluer than the female.

6.15.17   The Peregrine Falcon Chicks have a quiet morning.  Many fledglings do not live past 2 yrs old.  Several reports I read indicate until they grow wiser, they run into buildings, windows, fences, and airplanes while aggressively chasing prey.  DDT is banned in the US, but not in every country this raptor travels to, so pesticides are also a cause of death.

6.17.17  One chick is completely out of the nest!!  A fledgling!!

Look how high he can jump, as he returns to the nest.

Grabbing onto sticks to further propel him back in while his siblings watch and learn!

6.19.17  The chicks are gone!  They fledged so fast!  I stop by the nest every few days, then once a week while on my other nest checks but I saw no more of this Peregrine Falcon family.  My friend cjflick has monitored Peregrines for years and says  they usually traverse the fields over Catherine Creek as they grow stronger, learn how to hunt and improve flight skills.  Hope I get to watch them next year, I’ll keep a closer eye on them.

If you’d like to learn more about Peregrine Falcons, Cornell’s All About Birds, Audubon, Defenders of Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy for a great start.

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

 

4.9.17  Thanks to a lead, I arrived at a Great Horned Owl nest east of the Deschutes River just in time to see the incubation stage.  This is Mom, sitting on the nest.  Dad is in a nearby tree watching my every move.  Fortunately for me, this nest is just off a quiet road, so I grab a couple of quick shots, then leave so I don’t disturb the family.

4.20.17  I began the day at sunrise from Catherine Creek before heading out to the Great Horned Owl nest.

I find Mama still incubating.  Great Horned Owls incubate for 30 to 37 days and typically use the old nest of another large bird.  Thanks to a resident who stopped to chat with me, I learned that the owl and a Red-tailed Hawk fight over this nest and another about a mile down the road each year.

I searched for and found Dad in a tree near the nest.  I know if there’s a Mama in the nest, Dad is likely nearby.  He keeps the family fed while she keeps the family warm.  When the chick is old enough to stay home alone, both parents hunt.

4.23.17  Mama still incubating and Dad was hunting in the distance.  Yes, in broad daylight!  Great Horned Owls eat a smorgasbord of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  The list is longer than any of my other raptors in this series.  I offer a link for you at the bottom of this post.

5.2.17   Great Horned Owl still in nest……..WAIT!  Is that a chick???

YES!  A fuzzy little Great Horned Owlet joins the family, I’m so excited to see it!!

5.4.17   I try to drive by slowly, stopping barely long enough to snap a few pictures and move on.  I am thrilled to see the owlet’s fuzzy little face.  There is a shoulder I can park on, but I can’t see the nest from there.  It’s all I can do to not park my car in the middle of the road and just watch!

5.11.17   Little Owlet misses nothing as I slowly drive by.  The nestling period for a Great Horned Owl is 42 days.  If this nest weren’t so far from home I’d be here every one of those 42 days!

Great Horned Owl parent watches me from a field.  Like most raptors, the female is larger than the male, so I think this is Mom.

I drive to a nearby Red-tailed Hawk nest, observe for an hour or so, then return to the owlet on my way back down to the river.  This has become my pattern allowing me to see the owlet twice without too much disturbance.

5.15.17   Mama gets some sleep while Junior keeps an eye out.

5.19.17  From time to time I park on the shoulder and try to peer around trees.  With my brown pants and green hoodie I get into the character of a tree.  Junior doesn’t buy it, so I leave.

5.23.17  I arrive to an EMPTY nest!  The Owlet is too young to fly away but I know they can climb in and out of their nest at 5 weeks.  I search but can’t find him and more worrisome is I find neither parent around.  I park and walk the entire length of this hardwood forest to no avail.

5.25.17   As I drive slowly by, searching the area for Junior again, I suddenly spot him high on a branch!  Two days ago I don’t remember if I looked UP so I have to laugh at myself!

He was more easily seen on my drive back down to the river after checking nearby nests.  Yes plural!  Today a woman stopped to chat for a moment and shared the location of yet another Red-tailed Hawk nest.  Thank you!!

5.30.17  The Great Horned Owlet continues to mature each time I find him.  Owls are silent when they fly and their feathers are oh so soft.  Most raptor rehabilitation centers have a ‘Birds of Prey’ program where you can see for yourself.

Owls can live long lives ~ I believe I read one was found that was 28 years old in the wild; and in captivity one turned 50 at a zoo.  Those admitted to rehabilitation centers have typically been hit by a car, shot, electrocuted, or caught in barbed wire.  They can also starve if food sources are scarce.

6.3.17   I leave most mornings in time to see the sun come up on my way to check nests.

Each morning I wonder if the Owlet will still be here.  Yes!  There he is, perched on a branch closer to the field than to the road.

On my way back down he’s perched on a different branch, close enough to see those long sharp talons.

6.8.17   Today was gray, rainy, and looked pretty miserable for the little Owlet.

6.10.17  I saw a parent sitting on a snag near the field, but didn’t see the Owlet, so decided to park and look around.  You can barely see the parent, he blends in so well with his environment.

All of a sudden, the Owlet burst out in front of me and took off in flight.  Sorry little guy, didn’t mean to startle you!!

He flew across the field….

…and landed near some pretty wildflowers.  Soon he’ll fly away and not look back.

6.13.17   The Owlet is getting more and more difficult to locate, but yay, I found him again.  I’m grateful this road gets so little traffic, and I apologize to the residents if I ever block your lane.

On my way down the hill, he was more out in the open, but started to climb down the branch at my arrival.  I want to emphasize that I try my best to not interfere, interrupt or otherwise disrupt any activity, so I quickly move on.

6.15.17  Another day of rain, but at least it’s a light rain.  Owlet continues to mature.

6.17.17  My last sighting of the Owlet was a warm and sunny day.  Had I known this was my last opportunity with him, I’d have stayed a little longer soaking in those beautiful feathers and mesmerizing eyes.  I can only hope that I get this lucky again next year…..

For more information about Great Horned Owls:  Cornell’s All About Birds, Audubon, and International Owl Center  There are many more pages to check, these will get you started.

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

 

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

 

Empty Nest

July 20, 2017

Empty Nest….a phrase with multiple meanings, but in my case quite literally.

I followed seven raptor nests from birth (incubation) until graduation (fledge) this season.  An arduous task barely completed, but I’m ready to show you my journey.

I followed three Red-tailed Hawk nests, (Nest #1, Nest #2 and Nest #3)

…a Great Horned Owl, (link to post here)

…Prairie Falcon triplets (link to post here),

…Peregrine Falcon triplets  (link to post here),

…and a Bald Eagle (link to post here).

I’ve followed nests before, but not this consistently or with as much determination; and never from beginning until end.  I did a ‘nest check’ every 4 to 5 days in the beginning, then every 3 to 4, then 2 to 3 days until the raptors were close to fledging when I checked every other day….and sometimes every day!

Starting mid to late March with a couple of nests, I picked up more as I went along.  My last day was July 4th when the Bald Eaglet fledged (I now call him ‘Freedom’, of course!)  Some days I shot thousands of photos, some days only a few, depending on circumstances at each nest site.

What got me started you ask?  I participate in a raptor survey each winter for East Cascades Audubon Society.  This winter I noticed empty nests through branches of deciduous trees and decided to keep my eye on them.  I also noticed a Prairie Falcon perched at the opening of a ‘stick’ nest high on a cliff that was likely occupied by Ravens last season.  A couple of people gave me leads for other nests when they heard about my project and I followed up on those.  Only one location was on private land and I’m grateful for owner permission to enter that gate.

Special thanks to mentor cjflick on this project.  She showed me many historical falcon sites and while together one day, we observed Peregrine Falcons flying into a known location that was formerly a Red-tailed Hawk nest.  She is also instrumental in my education as I travel through this wondrous adventure, always available for my many questions!

Also thanks to Rowena Wildlife Clinic who I called on several heartbreaking occasions.  Leigh put my mind at rest, told me what to expect and how to handle what I observed in the morning before most of my friends were even out of bed.

If you want to learn more about these amazing raptors there are many sources.  I used Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds,  The Crossley ID Guide, took a fabulous Raptor ID class from Dick Ashford at Winter Wings, followed up with many questions to mentors cjflick and others; and chased down each bit of information I came across.  I’ve learned much, but mostly learned I still have much to learn.

I tell the story of each nest as I lived the adventure.  I tend to personify or anthropomorphize so forgive me if I call ‘my raptors’ he or she, Mom or Dad; or even suggest a human relationship action that may not be accurate in the real world of raptors.  I appreciate corrections for any mistakes, comments, and additions that you care to give.

Just so you know, I use a 150 to 600 mm zoom lens and my photos are all cropped.  Most of my nests were photographed from my car without disturbing the raptors in any way.   It’s unethical to bait, lure, flush or otherwise disturb wildlife and in some situations illegal … especially when nesting or raising young.  I also don’t use bird calls from my phone apps to lure or engage.  My goal in this series of posts is to share the stages of each nest with the hope of educating and building respect for these creatures that we share the planet with.

All my photos are now loaded, I simply have to add written content…a task that would be so much easier if I could read my notes.  And if I’d dated my notes.  And if I hadn’t let them get rained on….you get the gist!

 

 

Sunday, the last day of Winter Wings Festival, we woke at 4am to heavy snowfall with 4″ built up in the parking lot.

It was cold, dark and early but we headed over to the OIT to catch our ride for the last event my friend & I signed up for, “Call of the Wildfowl” with Jim Szemenyei.

After discussion about weather and road conditions, only 5 of us decided to go on our field trip to Lower Klamath NWR in the heavy snow.

We let our bus driver off the hook and drove slowly down the highway in Karl’s 4WD.

Because we were late, I watched a magnificent sunrise from the backseat, and as we arrived waterfowl were already bustling about their day.  (Lucky me to see my first Eurasion Wigeon pair!)

I must say this was one of the most amazing nature scenes I’ve ever witnessed……

….for hours and hours.

It was cold and windy but the sun peeked out from behind clouds off and on all morning.

Each time an eagle flew overhead a giant flock of birds would take off, fly across the marsh and land at a nearby section.  Swans, geese, ducks, blackbirds, all taking off at once amidst a cacophony of calls.

Jim, our guide let us know Pintails are his favorite duck so I snapped a few shots for him.

I’d not seen a Greater White-fronted Goose before.

Did I mention the noise?  It was incredible.  Like being in our own PBS nature show.

An American Wigeon flew oh so close to us.

Another herd of Pintails….yes, I know they are not herds, hahaha.

As the morning progressed more Tundra Swans flew overhead.

Snow Geese were constantly in motion.

This group of swans were settling farther out than where we would have liked.

I thought this was an interesting view of a Northern Shoveler.

There goes another eagle hunting across the marsh.

Then we saw Sandhill Cranes arriving!

Canada Geese…

More Pintails!

As our morning came to a close, Jim noticed this tree filled with Bald Eagles.

We walked over to investigate as waterfowl continued their routine.

A giant flock of Red-winged Blackbirds tormented us by not sitting still for portraits.

Another take off and landing for Snow Geese.

More Tundra Swans overhead.

Steider Studios.Tri-colored Blackbird.2.19.17

Edit:  I failed to mention I saw my first Tri-colored Blackbird.  Not the best photo, but yay!

My friend secretly grabbed this shot of me sitting back for a minute, joyfully taking it all in.  Another beyond fabulous day and it wasn’t even noon yet!

Note 2 hats (and I eventually pulled my hood up!), 2 gloves with hand-warmers, 2 shirts, a sweater and coat; 3 pants, 2 socks with toe warmers slipped inside insulated boots!  Alas I left that scarf somewhere in Klamath Falls!  It was deliciously warm on all my cold winter outings this season.

Our group headed back to campus to warm up, grab food and head out in different directions.  Nancy and I went back to Lower Klamath that afternoon and found delightful treats that I’ll show you in my next post!

 

 

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