Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hawk action in Philly this week

Lots to report about the Franklin hawk family this week. Carolyn Sutton has been checking on them every morning, and others of us have been down at various times. We're pretty certain that over the week we've seen all three eyasses, and definitely one haggard - just not sure which parent it is.

The eyasses are expanding their territory up the Parkway to the Art Museum. This gives them access to the tree lined Kelly Drive which abuts Fairmount Park -- full of juicy rodents!
The Art Museum sits up high above the city so it also gives them a wonderful lookout along the Parkway and Schuylkill river. The eyasses are doing a pretty good job of hunting, though they still sit on various roofs and yell out for a food delivery from the parents who seem to increasingly ignore them. The Franklin Institute and the Library are at the far end of the Parkway to the right and left respectively.
Here you can see the Museum's proximity to Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill and the woodlands of Fairmount Park. The steps of the Art Museum are immortalized in

Here are Carolyn's accounts of her hawk watches for the past few days starting with this morning and going back to July 15:

Monday, July 20
This morning's action was similar to yesterday's. I only stayed until 6:30 am, but saw the Library eyass squawking. Then a parent arrived with a mouse which the eyass quickly snatched. The parent took off to the trees, and then over to the nest! I followed and discovered her there with ANOTHER hawk, but it was too dark to see who it was.

She took off toward the east with one hawk remaining on the nest. I returned to the Library where eyass was still squawking over its breakfast. Very shortly after, I saw the parent return to the nest, and I followed as she took off for the Swann Fountain area of Logan Circle, down a block from the Library and the Institute.

The nest was empty so I decided to check out the light poles at the fountain where we spotted the parent yesterday. Sure enough, there she was. She was still there when I left, as was the eyass on the Library ledge. I think those six poles with double lights surrounding the Swann Fountain are that parent's special turf.

The Swann Fountain at Logan Circle is one of the most beautiful spots in Philadelphia. The trees you see here were cut down a couple of years ago because of disease, and today looks like this.

That's the Library back left of the fountain. There are now double light poles around this area, and at least one of the parent hawks likes to perch there.

Sunday, July 18 – 5:15 to 9:15 am.

Hearing no evidence of hawks as I circled through the Art Museum parking lot and a network of streets in the Fairmount section of the city, I arrived at my favorite parking spot by the Library at 5:15 a.m. I hadn’t yet turned off my engine when an eyass arrived squawking from the west. While watching and waiting for enough light to take pictures, I caught sight of another hawk gliding silently toward the Franklin Institute. S/he perched for awhile then headed over to the Library, so I was able now to confirm two eyasses.

Both birds headed out to hunt at 5:45 am and I headed back to the Art Museum. Beautiful blue sky, brilliantly illuminated terra cotta on the Museum roof and breathtaking views of the city, but no hawks, so back I went to the Parkway, and at 6:15 am Della arrived.

Thank heaven there were two of us
as there was so much going on this morning that it was difficult to keep track of everyone! I think we may have seen both parents and a minimum of two eyasses although, in the absence of Kay, I have only the grainiest of photos as evidence.

We saw two eyasses on the Library roof, and possibly a third over on a ledge of the Franklin Institute. Unless you actually have all three in sight at once it is always difficult to know whether you are seeing the same couple of hawks or a different one added in. The local mockingbirds constantly harass the hawks who most, of the time, simply ignore the tormentors.

The red tail feathers always indicate a parent, and we think this is the formel on her new favorite spot of the double spotlights above the fountain in Logan Circle.

One concern is that she appears to have injured a talon on her right foot as there was considerable swelling at the base of one claw, and she couldn't curl it around the perch. You can just about make out the red swelling in this grainy close-up.

As Della and I were leaving at 9:15, I looked back at the Granary, where we had last seen one of the eyasses, and spotted a hawk soaring high above -- circling, circling, floating, circling higher, too high to photograph – for several minutes before leveling out and heading south across the parkway. I wonder who s/he was and where s/he was going?

Saturday, July 18
Maria DiFlorio and I spent an excellent morning hawk-stalking from the Parkway to the Art Museum and back, for three hours during which I think we saw four of our family. Two eyasses squawked for food on the monuments between 5 am and 6 am, then one flew off to the northwest, and the other went to the Library ledge for breakfast.

Maria arrived just as s/he flew over to the Franklin Institute pediment. At about 7 am, another hawk flew in from the east, and visited the nest for a bit; we think it was a parent.

Our trip to the Art Museum revealed another eyass who provided us with lots of photo ops (oh, Kay, we missed you so!) At 8 am, we decided to return to the Franklin Institute for another look and lo, eyass #1 was still perched on the pediment. So, I think we saw three eyasses and Dad.

Thursday, July 17
Oh boy, after sitting by the Library from 6 am to 7 am, with nary an eyass anywhere, I was returning home when I picked up a hawk squawk from the top of one of the apartment buildings along the south side of the Parkway. Sure enough, there was an eyass on the antenna!

I decided to spin through the Art Museum parking lot and heard the same eyass calling. Then another hawk called from closer in and, miracle of miracles I spotted one of our clan atop a decorative spire on the museum roof. AMAZING how s/he blended in, and what a view there is from that perch to home turf down by the Franklin Institute.

Wednesday, July 16

My 5 am to 6 am morning Parkway ritual revealed at least two eyasses. I heard the first at 5:30 am as s/he flew onto the roof of the Library from the west. Action intensified as s/he targeted a sibling flying in from the same direction to alight on the Civil War monument. Both flew into the trees before heading skyward.
I decided to investigate the Art Museum again (my third visit this week) and was rewarded at last. An eyass, which I had not spotted on the museum's ornate roof ledge, zoomed through the trees to the Lloyd Hall park facility near Boathouse Row, and a cloud of pigeons launched themselves skyward.

The eyass then flew low across the river above the falls to Martin Luther King Drive, then circled back, climbing higher, to alight in the trees right below me.

This is a fabulous place to hawk watch, because you can actually watch them fly from above! Had an excellent view of the eyass' back feather patterns and tail as it flew below me from the trees to the pavilion. That's not our hawk on top!

Tuesday, July 15
Was down on the Parkway between 5:30-6:15 am today. Those seagull-like calls alerted me as I passed 22nd Street. Jim the jogger pointed me in the right direction and I located our eyass atop one of the Civil War monuments, busy tearing into breakfast. He/she flew over to the trees for a while, then onto the Library roof, before taking off to the east. I had to leave early, but will stay longer tomorrow to see if the rest of the family is still around.


  1. Della: So much appreciate these updates, always wondering how they are, and where they are. My sister Peg was with you one morning and filled me in. Hope to get up there from Baltimore before the Fall. thanks so much for all your insights and good reporting.

  2. Thanks Della- been reading carolyn's reports on facebook and in your blog- so much fun- if I could force myself out of bed at 5 am I would join you! When you decide that you are going at a human hour, let me know- meanwhile, missing Kay but enjoying all of your photos and reports- you and carolyn are doing a great job. Also, saw my friend from 2601 this weekend and told her you guys had gone up to the Art Museum area because of her reports of sightings.Glad you did- what a great view!