Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Nest and Battle of the Bag!

Here's how the nest is looking on this Friday afternoon after yet another major snowstorm here in Philadelphia. The hawks have checked in a couple of times, bringing some sticks and rearranging them, but don't seem inclined to linger in this snowy nest. The plastic bag, so beloved of the formel (female/mom), is still front and center. She definitely seems intent on keeping it as part of the decor!

The tiercel (male/dad) arrived and started messing with the bag so it was loosened and appeared to be on point of blowing away.

Then, a few minutes later, the formel flew in and began to push the bag back amongst the sticks.

Is there some dissension between our hawks about how to line the nest? Stay tuned!

It is always an interesting question where the hawks go during snowstorms, and yesterday we caught a glimpse of the tiercel (male/dad) perching on the former School Board building right next to the Franklin Institute, out of the worst of the blizzard-like conditions we had yesterday.

I asked John Blakeman about where the hawks might go at night or in bad weather. His response:

"I too, for many years, wondered where wild red-tails spent the night. I saw them fly into a many a woodlot for the night. But exactly where they perched in there was unknown. I originally thought that they probably roosted on a branch close to the trunk on its leeward (downwind) side.

But Lincoln Karim ( has shown conclusively from his zillions of shots of the Central Park red-tails that they perch on branches out away from the trunk, with no apparent regard to the night's winds. They just grab on and tuck their heads into their back feathers and snooze the night through.

I have noticed too that they will also roost for the night out on open utility poles, but only when the weather is calm.

Your readers should understand that the hawks don't often (if ever) spend a night on the nest, except when incubating or getting ready to do so. The nest, regardless of that name, is not a "home" or shelter for the haggards.

As much as it would be romantic to regard the nest as a cottage or shelter of retreat for the hawks, it's not that at all. If anything, it's only an obstetric space and later a nursery in function. The hawks' "home" is the entire 2-square mile territory, the entire neighborhood, which surely stretches up to the Art Museum, out over the river, and who knows how far in other directions."

- John Blakeman


  1. Hmm the nest is an obstetric space, later a nursery, that explains a lot. Thanks!

  2. Fascinating! Following you on U-Stream sunny while I try to work on my taxes (good luck)- glad you are on a mac and can use the grab app- it really is great- love your comments and pix and John is fabulous! Where did you find him again???

    Between the Molly the owl, Phoebe the hummingbird and our beloved FI Hawks it's hard to get anything done around here on a snowy day!

    BTW, it's Friday, not Saturday (i.e. your first sentence on this blog)-


  3. I fixed the Saturday error :) All these snow days from school seem to be messing with my ability to keep track of time!