Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 22 - Amazing Hawk Watch!

The intrepid Carolyn Sutton (Carditoo) who appears to need no sleep whatsoever, and faithfully goes down early to the Parkway most every day, sends this report of Wednesday's amazing morning of Franklin hawk watching:

"I overslept this morning – rarity of rarities for this earliest of early birds. Maybe yesterday’s washout had me questioning my resolve to track our hawk family faithfully, come H… or high water, because I seriously contemplated skipping my shift this morning on the Parkway. But I got a grip, and by 6:00 am I was en route, passing all our familiar landmarks, listening for some evidence of the hawk family.

All was quiet, but as I circled the Swann Fountain area of Logan Circle, hoping to see Mom, I spotted my first eyass on the roof of Family Court (the Central Library’s “twin building” east of 19th Street). The eyass flew over to the Library as I parked right below, and then took off for the Franklin Institute. As it leveled out to land, eyass #2 flew up out of “nowhere” (the nest, I think).

By this time I was running across the Parkway, but #1 flew off to the southwest as #2 briefly landed on Portico’s pediment before making a beeline for the pigeons at the back of the construction site near Whole Foods! For those of you who have visited the area, you know how far that is – two, maybe three, city blocks! I raced back across the Parkway as fast as possible, just in time to see our eyass blend invisibly into one of the trees by the construction trailer near 20th Street.

I was distracted by another hawk (or perhaps two) flying in the tree alley, and I quickly lost track (and count) of whom I was watching and where they went. They were calling; mockingbirds were chattering. My recall gets fuzzy now, because I was catching glimpses of hawk movement here and there.

One eyass jumped down from the trees; one popped up onto some low fencing. The same one? Who knows - I gave up counting to concentrate on watching. The eyass on the fence was SO close. As I tried to focus, she flew (“tried” to fly is more like it), carrying a really big critter. Knowing that she could not go far, I searched the perimeter of the construction site, looking for her in the grass.

Turns out she got no farther than the construction trailer, because that’s where she decided to have breakfast, achieving just enough lift to make the roof.

I watched for maybe a half hour as she ate without being disturbed

Then, up to do her high-wire act (another half hour of balancing and preening) before heading for the tree alley again, this time in response to calls from one or another of her family.

The tree alley was a-buzz (a-squawk?) all morning. I saw two fly in right above my head, but could only find one to photograph before everyone took off for the Franklin Institute.

Two at a time they circled in the sky above the Parkway. Not once, but twice, perhaps three times. The hawks appeared to come from different directions, but it was difficult to follow their flight patterns. One pair featured an eyass with prey being chased by one of its nest mates.

A pair spotted later circled over the fountain and back to the front of the Franklin Institute. At one point one went to the nest and another into the trees lining the parking lot on Winter Street.

Another sat on the northeast corner of the Franklin Institute roof. Then, POOF, all gone. Total elapsed time……maybe 15 minutes!!!!!!

I was pooped and running low on battery so elected to head for home. BUT, as I pulled away I noticed an eyass on the Civil War monument, and I just couldn’t resist taking another drive around the block. One last look toward the nest and OMG, baby on board!

Back I go! I take more pictures and hear, then see, another eyass on the 2100 Parkway antenna. Now I REALLY have to leave, and as I wend my way contentedly homeward, windows down as I reach Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum, I hear that call..........with attendant mockingbird alarm. I glance skyward…….was this hawk following me, or what?

My apologies for the lousy photos. I miss Kay!"

Editorial note from Della: the pictures are GREAT!

Later on Wednesday, Carolyn sent me this really interesting picture of the new greenery and sticks that are appearing on the nest....looking good for next year's nesting activity!


  1. Thanks Carolyn and Della! Great action! Saw a baby hawk at our golf course today and wondered if it was one of our eyasses- probably not as we have our own resident hawk there.

    Anyone going down this weekend? And when is Kay coming back?


  2. Do hawks nest more than once a season? I know blubirds it possible that the parents are preparing a new nest for THIS season?

  3. Anonymous - Read the post from Tuesday, July 21, 2009 called New Sticks on the Nest - it explains what this behavior is about, and that it doesn't lead to another nest.

  4. mmgolfer - I'm going to go down early (6:15 AM) tomorrow (Saturday).

  5. thanks for the response Della- probably too early for me but if I'm up that early I'll see you there- otherwise, looking forward to your next episode!