A nest of Red-tailed Hawks grows up

Half-built nest in February

Half-built nest in February

In February, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks began to build a nest in the window of a tenth-floor conference room in Yonkers, NY. Over the next four months, Jerry and Beverly—who work in that office—watched and documented the red-tails as they raised their chicks. Many thanks to Jerry and Beverly for agreeing to share their photos and videos, and thanks to James for passing them on to me!

One of the adults at the nest

One of the adults at the nest. Red-tails like their nests to have a commanding view of the surroundings; you can see that this fits the bill nicely.

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Check out the feathers on those legs

Check out the feathers on those legs

Definitely a red-tail

Definitely a red-tail

The three-egg clutch in March

The three-egg clutch in March

One day, Dad brought Mom a rat and took over incubation for her after she flew away to eat. Here is Dad on the nest, calling:

Both parents

Both parents

April: chicks!

April: three chicks!

Such a sweet tableau: parent, babies, and half a disemboweled rat carcass. Awwww.

Such a sweet tableau: parent, babies, and half a disemboweled rat carcass. Awwww.

May: chicks getting bigger

May: chicks getting bigger (and window getting dirtier)

Hello

Hello

May_7

Starting to turn brown

Starting to turn brown

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What are these things for, Mom?

What are these things for, Mom?

May_16_10

Are they for hitting you with? 

The nestlings practiced using their growing wings:

 

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Early June: almost ready to fledge

Early June: almost ready to fledge

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And then… they left.

The last nestling left in the nest, mid-June.

The last nestling in the nest, mid-June. He fledged soon after this.

Three chicks grown and fledged is a great success for this pair. They’ll continue to feed their chicks for a while: learning to hunt as a raptor takes time, so the fledglings will be dependent on their parents for a time yet as they perfect their skills.

Empty nest

Empty nest

The hawks have left the nest, but Jerry reports that they still come by sometimes and (as you can see) have left fresh leaves in the nest. Red-tails may re-use nests in subsequent years, and part of refurbishing an old nest can be to add greenery to it, but it’s not clear why these hawks are adding greenery to the nest now—they’ve already had their one brood for the year. Eagerness for next year, maybe?

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5 thoughts on “A nest of Red-tailed Hawks grows up

    • That’s a good point about the interplay – not only are people watching the hawks through the window, but you can see that the hawks are often looking in through the window at the people.

  1. They do choose a wonderful view, don’t they? And start building really early–February!–when I always think of nest building as a spring-time activity.

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