Saturday, June 12, 2010

The fledging was not quite as smooth as we thought...

It seemed this morning that the eyasses had had a most successful fledge, and they all seemed to be heading off smoothly into Chapter 1 of Life Off The Nest.

I headed to the airport at 2:30 PM to drop off a friend who was flying to England this evening, and on the way back decided I would make a quick detour to the nest to see what was up with the eyasses. I parked on Winter Street, right under the nest, and started scanning the trees along the street to which the eyasses had flown earlier.

Then came one of those "Houston, we have a problem..." moments.

I was startled to catch sight of an eyass right beside me on the wall behind the parking meters on Winter Street. It was calmly looking through the railing down onto the mayhem of Saturday afternoon Vine Street Expressway traffic.

This image is deceptive as it appears that there is merely a nice grassy meadow on the other side of the railing, but between the railing and that "meadow" - really only a weed-strewn bank - is a six lane highway. Thank goodness the gaps between the railings were too narrow for a young hawk to push through.

The eyass seemed quite content to sit in the shade, so I set off down 21st Street to see if I could locate any more hawks - parents or eyasses - in the nearby trees.

When I was on the Ben Franklin Parkway, I looked back to see that our adventurer was still tucked behind its lily bed, surrounded by cars, and with its feet literally six inches from the drop-off down to the Vine Street Expressway. Thank you, City of Philadelphia, for your close-set railings!

I found no hawks anywhere, so headed back to Winter Street. Sandy Field, aka Joisey, was there and was aware of the eyass on the wall. Sandy and I kept interested onlookers at a distance from the eyass so it would not get stressed.

Sandy Field and Mary Gamble Barrett took several of the photographs that you see here, and were among the many people down there who were deeply concerned about the plight of this hawk.

The eyass then left the shade under the tree and started walking along the top of the wall. At one point, the eyass started to show increased signs of wanting to get across the Vine Street Expressway to where probably the rest of its family was in trees on the other side of the Ben Franklin Parkway. It tried to scale the railings (look near the top), and this was an incredibly stressful moment, knowing that the expressway was right below the railings, and with no confidence that the eyass could fly across that expressway if it reached the top of those railings.

Fortunately, the eyass came down off the railings and continued its march along the wall.

I took this picture at the end of the adventure when we knew that the eyass was safe, so this is night light, but shows the wall along which the eyass walked. You can see the signage below on the expressway,

At this point, Gene Mancini from the Franklin Institute arrived and told us that the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Center had been alerted about the eyass. Gene gently encouraged the eyass to move back down the wall towards the safety of the bushes.

The eyass stepped back under the trees and seemed much calmer. After a few minutes, it literally "crashed," flattened out and went to sleep on the wall. It must have been exhausted from all the excitement and a day's activity out of the nest.

While all this was happening, we noticed the tiercel above us on a ledge of the Franklin Institute, keeping an eye on the proceedings.

I had to leave at this point to zip home to feed/walk my young golden retriever. Sandy Field and her husband stayed on site to keep the constant onlookers away from the hawk.

When I returned, I learned that the eyass had not only woken up, but had traversed the entire fence wall down Winter Street...

... hopped off the wall down to the parking area...

... and then miraculously hopped/flapped/ran across the Ben Franklin Parkway to the base of the Civil War monument without getting hit by a car.

It had traversed this grassy area, and then crossed a lane of traffic over to the monument.

By now, it was attracting a lot of attention, and several hawkaholics were there trying to keep it safe, and gently move it away from going in a dangerous direction.

It tried unsuccessfully to climb up the side of the monument.

Fortunately, Rick Schubert from the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic arrived. He and his helpers assessed the situation. Suddenly, the eyass seemed to gather strength and purpose, and for the first time flew rather than ran, got airborne, and made it safely to a tree alongside the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Rick and his crew stayed for a while to make sure the eyass remained safe. Here they are just before taking their leave. Rick is on the right.

When I left, the eyass was preening and generally getting comfortable in its tree after its far too busy afternoon and evening.

A second eyass was settling down for the night in a window ledge on the Franklin Institute

I could not find the third eyass, but no doubt it was in a nearby tree. So ended the first day out of the nest for the eyasses. Let's keep fingers crossed that the next few days are calmer!


  1. Thank you Della for your informative commentary and thanks to all the photographers who help illustrate the story. It's much appreciated by us "long distance" hawkaholics who can't be there up close and personal. Great job everyone!

  2. Della, thanks so much for this update! We saw a number of people on the Chat trying to get help for the eyass with phone calls to Rick and Gene. But I'm sure many of us missed all the activity and turned in last night worried about the possibly injured eyass. Your pictures are just great! So nice to see it flew into a tree:)

  3. Hi it's Rick from the Schuylkill Center. I hope everything is well with the hawks. Like last year, we have a very "back off, hands off" attitude towards the hawks, unless of course it's clear we need to interfere. I'm sorry, I forget the name of the woman who was in the picture of the monument on the median strip in the Ben Franklin Parkway? She has an East Falls t-shirt and a cellphone. I was talking to her afterwards. Anyway, she did an awesome job blocking the hawk when it wanted to fly across the parkway and get smeared. Whenever the hawk looked like it wanted to fly, she moved to block it. That forced it to fly along the median strip and land in the tree, which was perfect. She probably saved the hawk's life.

  4. That person was Carolyn Sutton aka Cardi on the Ustream web cam. She was down there again this morning, and called me to say that all three eyasses were sighted with the haggards in attendance feeding them at various times.
    Thanks again, Rick, for your care and concern for these hawks. It was very reassuring to have you there last night.

  5. I can't Thank you enough Della for your entertaining and informative narratives. I have watched since the very beginning, and your posts here have always been something I have so looked forward to reading. Please don't let the egos and petty actions of a few change what you do!! I have always felt we were just one big happy group of Hawk fans, and now that some individuals are making a stink about being given credit for a few photos that were used clearly just to help with the narration is really SAD! Shame on them for ruining the wonderful comradere that I have always felt!

  6. You are a much better person than I would have been. I would have pulled their pictures and never posted another one again!

  7. Della,

    Thanks so much for the detail that you gave.
    I wanted to know more than I could find out and you certainly gave it to me.

    Catherine Forte

  8. Thank you Della! Well done! Excellent work! I have enjoyed the blog and look forward to continued excellence.
    On another note. You handled the picture fiasco honorably. The photography had a valid point but too bad the complaint had to be staged in full view of the FB family. The correction would have been made and proper kudos would have been extended accordingly. Better late than never I always say.
    Just my two cents worth.
    Thanks again!

  9. The Photographers actions were totally uncalled for!! Della has gone out of her way to put this blog together and keep us all informed. She is not asking for any kudos or recognition for her work. They were out of line to post a complaint without even speaking to Della, and they claim they are "NOT" looking for recognition?? That action alone screams "Look what I did"! Grow up ladies!

  10. It's good to know that the blog is appreciated. It is but one source of information for hawk fans. Lots of people have contributed material, both here and on the Facebook page. Let's acknowledge that in the drama and concern of Saturday, mistakes were made, and now it is time to move on.

  11. LOVE all your pictures & blogs.
    These beautiful creatures are just a WONDER to behold! Maybe we should have a contest to name those devoted parents (BOB & CAROL)?