I asked our Ohio raptor expert, John Blakeman, whether it is a strain on the haggards (adult hawks) to have three eyasses to tend/feed/watch out for rather than the more usual two.
"No, not at all, for this reason. The number of eggs a formel lays is directly related to the amount of food she's able to capture and eat in mid-winter. If finding prey is difficult, she will lay only one or two eggs. Red-tails that hatch three eyasses have an ample amount of food they can capture and consume.
The parent haggards of this nest are ample providers. I never once saw the eyasses go hungry. Life for these parents is really good - lots of rats, mice and pigeons to easily capture; a good, solid nest (thank you, Franklin Institute); and now three eyasses successfully fledging and growing up. Life could not be better for any red-tailed hawks anywhere. Philadelphia, city of brotherly love. Philadelphia, city of hawk success. These are happy, contented hawks. Nothing could be better for them."
I then asked John what could could still go wrong for this hawk family.
John replied, "In honesty, because they are wild animals, just a lot of things could go wrong. It’s tough out there, and only a small fraction of hawks that fledge ever survive to adulthood, in two or three years.
All three of this year’s eyasses may perish before becoming adults. They can be hit by a car, even on the Parkway, as a bird shoots across the road closing in on a mouse in the grass. Young red-tails sometimes crash into wires, fences, or poles and break a wing, or otherwise become disabled. Lastly, they could become infected with several lethal diseases, including aspergillosis - a fungus in the lungs (sadly, my eight year old falconry red-tail died of this last winter), frounce - a protozoan infection of the mouth and lungs, or just plain starvation.
- John Blakeman