Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hawk capers on Thursday, July 9

Carolyn Sutton (Carditoo) has to get the MVP award for early morning hawk watching! She is out at 5:00 am EVERY morning! Kay and I get there about every third or fourth day, but Carolyn is definitely the primo observer of our hawk family. Here's her account of what's been happening these last few days:

"After a great July 6th morning of hawk-watching with Della and Kay, I have to admit to being bored on July 7th and 8th, disappointed that the hawks seemed to be moving outward, and away from the Franklin Institute area.

I saw all three eyasses on the Whole Foods' roof when I arrived at 5:00 am on Tuesday, but they soon took off, heading northwest toward Kelly Drive. I was joined by Margie from Haddonfield and though we looked and looked until 7:30 am we saw nothing. Wednesday’s experience was similar, although the eyasses chose the Library as their mustering point before leaving to hunt in a southwesterly direction. I stayed until 7:30 am and saw nothing.

BUT, though last night I contemplated giving up my dawn watch, I woke with my usual craving for a hawk fix and headed toward town. I decided to drive all around the area with windows down, listening for the plaintive calls that show me the way to hawk paradise.

While I heard nothing earlier in the week, I picked up the sound of eyass #1 at 5:15 am as he flew over my car on his way to the Franklin Institute. Very shortly eyasses #2 and #3 arrived from the trees on 21 Street and Winter for the home-coming. I watched one eat as the other two were dancing on the ledges and flying across the Parkway, alighting on old some old haunts – the Civil War monuments, then dive bombing lower than I have ever seen. One actually flew UNDER the Barnes construction barrier, a space no more than a foot or two wide!

Knowing now that at least two eyasses were in the tree alley, I went to explore and heard them calling right above my head. I was all set to watch them perform, when I turned around and, LO, saw the third eyass sitting on the nest! S/he actually remained there, pecking, preening and hopping about for 20 minutes, before flying over to the tree alley.

Now there were three eyasses overhead. They flew from branch to branch, still calling out, before launching an all-out attack over the meadow, actually skimming the grasses. They perched in a few familiar places, including the 20th Street trees where Della spotted four or five all at once last weekend.

By now, I started to regret leaving the camera in my truck, which was way over by the Whole Foods Market. How to get over there without missing the action?- that was the question as I watched all three eyasses jump into the meadow to perform their chicken impersonations.

I managed to retrieve the camera just as one eyass took off for 21st Street. I got some good shots of the other two as they cavorted for nearly half an hour, before shifting their show to the Parkway & 21st Street corner of the meadow.

Look how casually competent our little chicks have become at catching their own food!

Notice one bird watching longingly as the other takes off with his catch of the day.

At this point, one eyass was perched on some masonry test panels, one was doing the chicken dance right below, and one was calling from the trees. I took off in hot pursuit, upset when two eyasses took off into the tree alley, but managed to get close enough to the third bird to get more close-ups.

My last picture, was shot obliquely through the chain-link fence. Notice the remains of breakfast on his beak.

No sign of the tiercel or formel, but the eyasses are most definitely chowing down

At 7:00 am I had to leave, but for just under two hours, I was in hawk heaven, sad to leave today, but chomping at the bit to return tomorrow (Friday) to meet up with Della."

- Carolyn Sutton aka Carditoo


  1. I so appreciate your sharing the view with the rest of us! I'm in Maine, but love the pictures and updates. Thanks so much.

  2. Carolyn and Della, what a great blog. I love the pics too!

  3. I worked in the vicinity of HUP (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania) in 2005-06, and at that time there were at least two hawks living and hunting in the vicinity. I know there was more than one hawk, even though I never saw more than one at a time, because their coloration was so different. One was definitely a much paler shade of red than the other.

    I haven't been there in a while, but for anyone who wants to do hawk watching, it might be worth taking a jaunt over to 34th Street and having a look to see if hawks still frequent that area. I used to see them at all hours of the day.

    But it's also great to know that OUR hawk family is thriving. I am glad to see that the eyasses are learning the skills they'll need to survive. I would love to see all three of them set up shop in downtown Philly. Goodness knows there's no shortage of pigeons and other prey for them to hunt, and it will help keep the population of said prey animals in check. Win/win.

  4. Della and Carolyn, I am so sorry I missed you this morning- I arrived about 9:00 am and saw two women with binoculars in the tree alley so I immediately walked up to them and said "you must be Della and Carolyn" and they said- "you just missed them"- and proceeded to point out Mom sitting in the tree overhead. She sat there for quite awhile, but we saw no other action. Guess our babies know when you guys are there, and they stay hidden for those of us that are "closet" hawkaholics. I'm so happy that I went in town to see where you've been taking these wonderful pictures- now I have a much better sense of where things are- and I've discovered statues and monuments that I have never noticed in a lifetime of living in our wonderful city!

    Great blog- keep it up- maybe we'll meet one day.


  5. thanks for all the great pic...its even more fun than watching the nest...:)

  6. Mmgolfer - what a shame we missed each other this morning. Are you going to Rick Schubert's presentation tomorrow and/or Sunday at the Franklin Institute? Both days, he's speaking at 1 PM.

  7. Hi Della- hope that Peg told you I waited for you to come back but then had to leave to visit my friend. I won't be at the FI this weekend as I am playing golf both days (hence my moniker), but I see that Peg posted on facebook asking that it be taped- hope someone does that so that all of us hawkaholics can hear what he has to say. Maybe catch you next time.

    BTW- just read your latest blog- interesting but GROSS!!! John is overeducating us!