Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eyasses exploring big-time

Almost two weeks off the nest and out in the world, all three eyasses are flourishing. Carolyn Sutton and Sandy Sorlien win this week's Early Bird Award for their sunrise visits, Facebook reports and pictures. Photo credits in this post also go to Kay Meng, Janette Benner, Sarah Shaw, and Linda White for their many exquisite images of the eyasses taken over the past several days.

The eyasses at first separated into a pair and a singleton. The latter initially had us all concerned with its seeming inability to find safe places off the nest, and was the one who walked across the Ben Franklin Parkway.

This week, all three eyeasses are united, and most mornings at sunrise leave their roost trees for the top of one of the Civil War monuments where breakfast is served by the parent haggards.

Here are all three on top early this morning, with their nest window in the background.

These monuments are a favorite perching place - with the best view in the city up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum! If you look carefully, you can see an eyass perched on top of each of the monuments. The Franklin Institute is immediately to the left.

They sit up here at all times of the day, looking around....

... checking out where everyone else is.

The trees alongside the Parkway were the first perching spots after they left the nest, and provide great opportunities for practicing landings and take-offs on narrow branches...

.... and much broader ones.

It can be almost impossible to spot them even when you know they are there.

Wherever the eyasses fly, and whatever they are up to, there is always a parent in close attendance. Here is the tiercel keeping an eye on his offspring.

The eyasses use the Franklin Institute as their homebase, frequently returning to its ledges and windows, as well as the nest.

The ledge under the roof balustrade slopes inwards and collects water. Here are two of the eyasses on that ledge - one has bathed and has wet, ruffled feathers.

They are now comfortable landing in many of the Franklin Institute's windows....

.... and even in the middle of the balcony cafeteria. This eyass had been sitting on a service cart, and when it took off, several trays clattered to the ground, much to its surprise.

Lamp poles are another favorite perching spot. We're starting to get used to seeing them in seemingly super-dangerous situations. This eyass is literally sitting over the top of six lanes of Vine Street Expressway traffic...

... and this one is above the lanes of the Ben Franklin Parkway.

From the first day of fledging, the metal railings right under the nest along Winter Street bordering either side of the Vine Street Expressway exerted an irresistible attraction to these young hawks.

When they are not on top of the railings, they are on the wall below that borders the sidewalk...

... and sometimes - by mistake! - on the roofs of cars parked on Winter St. right under the nest

It is amusing to watch the double-take of passing joggers and pedestrians when they suddenly see a hawk only a few feet away!

Equally pleasurable is the calm, mildly curious reaction from the eyass as it watches the inevitable explanatory conversations between the closest hawk watcher and the pedestrians/joggers....

... which are variations on this theme:

"Jeez, what IS that?"
"It's a young red-tail hawk."
"You're kidding! What's it doing there? Is it hurt?"
"No, it's just perching. It left the nest up there on the Franklin Institute window ledge a few days ago."
"Oh, I heard about them. Wow, that is SO cool!"

A new feature this year for the haggards as well as the eyasses is the presence of huge cranes on the Barnes Museum construction site immediately opposite the nest across the Parkway. These are red-tail hawk jungle gyms!

For those who followed the story of last year's Franklin hawks, this is the area we called The Meadow. It was enclosed by a wire construction fence and thus was safe from human and animal predators. Full of small rodents and birds, it provided a perfect environment for the eyasses to develop their hunting skills.

This year, it is a major construction site, but the eyasses seem completely unfazed by all the noisy activity.

The cranes provide great perching spots....

...for eyasses...

... as well as the ever-present formel who has adopted these cranes as her personal watch towers from which to keep a hawk eye on her youngsters.

The eyasses are also down on the ground under the trees that line the construction fences....

.... finding bug snacks.

Now, here are some pictures of some of the photographers who provided these magnificent images!

Kay Meng:

Sandy Sorlien:

Karen McCunney who has provided all the video footage:

Pictures of Carolyn Sutton, Sarah Shaw, Linda White and Janette Benner no doubt will soon be taken!

Finally, images of our eyasses confidently taking on all challenges in their new environment...

... already magnificent looking young hawks just two weeks off the nest.


  1. Wonderful surprise to find this post this morning.
    Many,many thanks to all the intrepid photographers and for the narration.

    I especially love this last photo in which one of the youngsters seems to be imitating the eagles on the Civil War monuments.

  2. Wonderful!! Thank you everyone for great pictures and thank you, Della, for putting it all together!

  3. Thanks so much for the intrepid reporting on our loves! So happy to see them thriving!

  4. Wonderful post! So much great info and terrific pics. Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much for all these wonderful photos and the commentary explaining them. You all are wonderful!

  6. Special hawks-----special people

    Janet W. aka colibri57

  7. Fantastic post!! What amazing pictures and a wonderful account of this families' adventures! I continue to be in awe of their beauty,their faithful care of their young, and ever-present vunerability to humans. Thank you, so much, for bringing them to us!!!

  8. These photos are phenomenal. Thank you very much for providing all the follow-up information once the hawks had fledged. Incredible.

  9. Great as always Della- wonderful to see all of the contributions from so many of our faithful Hawkaholics!!! Wish I could take a picture like all of these intrepid soldiers! Thanks to everyone who has contributed- between your blog and Kay's album and our FI Hawkaholics FB page and Karen's videos and on and on and on...we can all be there even when we are not!


  10. I really have to stop reading this blog at my desk, people keep asking why I'm crying!! It's so wonderful to see our 2nd brood out exploring and flourishing...thank you all so much for bringing this to us!

  11. I am hoping the Hawk family all made it through that awful storm this week.

  12. Thank you so much for the fantastic pictures and details of their new life in the big city. The pic of them on top of pillars opposite the street is too precious. All the pics are precious. I know Blakeman is in awe of how close they are to people. He says where he is, the hawks take off so quickly. These birds, hang out on the fence as the people pass by. Amazing. And to see one of them crossing the street! That must have been a site. Imgaine the drivers..."that's not a pigeon!" Love the pics and updates!!!!!! Cathy

  13. wanted to take a trip into the city tomorrow (i am right over the ww bridge) and wanted to go looking for our babies. if anyone can email me info about the best places to find them/ the best times/ the best parking/ etc, please let me know! I welcome any and all info! Thanks!

  14. Thanks to everyone involved in keeping us posted on the progress and lives of "our" hawks. The pictures (even those claimed to be taken with a point and shoot camera) are truly wonderful. I kept the webcam site up on my computer screen all day, everyday. Now that I have found this site it will be my new go to location! Take care. PM

  15. Thank you so much for the posts & the wonderful pictures! Sometimes I think they are actually posing for the camera! Tess

  16. All the way from the middle of Long Island in N.Y., just want to thank all of you for the wonderful pictures you have shared, the time taken to follow subjects around who couldn't care less about having their picture taken, and yet you have managed such great shots!!! That you "hawk moms" are watching over them as they learn all about the "great big" world out there is a comfort, and for that also we are ALL grateful. Thank you for this "happy" news from nature in a time of nothing but terrible news!!!

  17. Patricia-in BrookhavenJuly 3, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    OMG what beautiful photos - Thanks so much for sharing with all of us.
    May you - your family - and the Hawks have a safe, healthy, & happy 4th of July.

    Patricia - in Brookhaven