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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

 

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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

 

 

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

 

A Magical January Sunset

January 4, 2014

Steider Studios:  Columbia River Gorge Magical Sunset

What a magical start to 2014!  I was giddy with excitement as I watched the colors in the sky changing on the second evening of January.  Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge watching the mist hovering over the river as the mountains darkened and the skies turned into a painting.

Steider Studios.Sunset.1.2.14

No matter where I turned my camera an amazing array of color mixed with golden clouds.  Cars were stopping on the road, all the neighbors were out staring at the sky in amazement.

Steider Studios:  Sunset on Mt. Hood. 1.2.14

Mt Hood with a brilliant red cloud curling over her snowy white cap was the last bit of color to fill my soul.

Steider Studios:  Kingfisher in Flight. 1.2.14

The day had a magical start when I found a Kingfisher & caught him in flight!

Steider Studios:  Hawk in Flight. 12.31.13

The last day of 2013 I caught this juvenile Red-tailed hawk in flight.  Today I entered him in a Project FeederWatch contest.  Do me a favor and vote for my photo:  Simply click this link and vote for my hawk in flight.  Thanks!!  You only have until tomorrow night (Sunday, Jan 5th) to vote!!!

2014 is off to a wonderful start!  I can’t wait to see what’s next!!

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