I shared in the previous post about our visit to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Saturday. On the way to the lab, we stopped to observe the red-tailed hawks featured in their nest cam, Big Red (the female) and Ezra (the male).
We found the nest without much difficulty and had only just settled ourselves when Big Red flew from a tree nearby to roost on the light pole next to the one with the nest. Ezra was taking his turn sitting on the eggs.
A minute later she flew to a nearby building. She had a ledge in a cranny of the building that protected her somewhat from the wind as she preened, stretched, and kept track of what was going on around her.
She was there for perhaps 45 minutes. It was beautiful out, but chilly with the wind, and though we really wanted to see them switch places on the nest, we finally decided to set the limit at 5 more minutes and then we’d get back in the car. She must have heard us, and like true royalty, she graciously obliged.
I’m being excessive with the images, aren’t I? It was just a treat to get to see her in flight. The nest cam shows us the hawks only in the fascinating but limited situation of their nest. It’s in the air that their strength and beauty really shine. I never get tired of seeing the wings unfurl.
It was interesting to me that she stayed always within sight of the nest. She didn’t go far at all, and she didn’t do any hunting while we were there. After leaving the building, she circled a few times overhead and then landed at the edge of the nest pole, waddled along the platform to the nest, and switched places with Ezra.
He circled us, seeming to check us out before sailing away — probably to hunt. I remember reading in A Wing in the Door that the oil on their feathers absorbs the vitamin D from the sunlight, and when they preen they ingest it. Assuming that’s true, the hawks had a vitamin-rich day to soar.
We couldn’t have asked for a better experience observing these two! Hopefully we’ll make it back after the hawk and heron eggs have hatched.
*Edited to add: I’ve created a fuller set of the day’s hawk photos on Flickr.