Monday, July 19, 2010

Catching up with the eyasses

Apologies for the length of time since the last post. My horse is recovering from a tendon injury which requires a couple of hours of hand walking and icing each day, and my dog has had a series of mystery ailments, possibly as a result of a compromised immune system. I feel as if I have been running a veterinary hospital! Thankfully, everyone is recovering well, and now I have time to catch up with the eyasses.

All three continue to thrive despite an endless series of heat waves here in Philadelphia since they fledged. Temperatures have rarely been down below 90, and last week were over 100 for three days straight.

The Rodin Museum has become a favorite spot for the eyasses, who show little respect for the sculptor!

Last Sunday, July 11, on an oppressively hot afternoon, Kay Meng and I found an eyass in the trees by the museum's entrance.

It watched us with the usual interest and lack of fear.

Then tended to an itch....

.... and then screamed a couple of times in case a parent was nearby and might bring food.

But the only bird that paid it any attention was a pesky mockingbird who dove relentlessly at it. The eyass showed great composure under fire until the mockingbird eventually gave up.

The eyass's attention then was riveted on a nearby squirrel...

... which did the usual squirrel freeze, hoping not to be noticed. Luckily for the squirrel, this eyass has not yet figured out how to catch squirrels.

It launched at it, but the squirrel was long gone by the time the eyass reached the tree.

But nothing daunted, the eyass decided that bees or yellowjackets might be an easier prey. It flew to the grass below where there were many flying close to the ground. You can see one showing against the eyass's pale leg.

The eyass flapped and jumped and kept missing!

But finally, persistence paid off...

... and the eyass snacked happily on bees.

Though we mostly watch the hawks early in the morning when they are active and the temperature is cooler, it was interesting to see how busy this eyass was in the middle of the afternoon.

Carolyn Sutton has been indefatigable in her hawk checks at dawn each morning, and her daily reports and pictures on the Hawkaholic facebook page provide a great record of the hawk family's activity.

Here is a compilation of Carolyn's reports and some of her pictures for the past ten days or so:

Friday, July 9 

Hawk watching was spectacular this morning. The three eyasses were hunting not ten feet away from me (and all three are in this picture).

One by one they flew to the fence in front of me for portrait sessions.

A haggard watched all of this from high atop a crane at the far end of the site

The eyasses took off to hunt in different directions, and I lost track of them at about 6 am. All of this happened in absolute silence; no squawking: not one peep!

Saturday, July 10

Two eyasses were in evidence when I arrived at the construction site at 5:15, but they were soon gone to hunt. When Della arrived, we walked over to the Rodin Museum, and BONANZA is all I can say! We watched in awe as three eyasses chased squirrels aplenty, traversing the broad lawns along 21st St with steely resolve, pausing now and then to climb tree limbs and flounce around on the ground looking for slow/dumb prey. No luck. I was watching one of the hawks in pursuit when I heard Della gasp from behind as two hawks whizzed right by me, one on the right and one so close to my left shoulder that I could feel the breeze. HOLY COW! Never a dull moment with this threesome!

Sunday, July 11

Silent eyasses are difficult to stalk, but the good Lord moves in mysterious ways. I parked by the Rodin, and a telltale robin led me to the twins. This morning they were hunting silently above the Expressway between 21st and 23rd Street. I kept pace with them until they separated and started back to the nest area.

At one point, I was watching one of the twins behind a fence...

... when it jumped up on the fence within three feet of me

then flew right at me, joining its twin in the grass behind me. Then they both flew right at me (just like yesterday) one practically grazing my arm as s/he whizzed by. Am wondering if they are warning me that I am cramping their hunting style.

Monday, July 12

I couldn't find the hawks this morning when I arrived at 5:40 except for one eyass flying silently to the trees behind Parke Towne Place apartment complex on 22nd Street. I decided to take a final loop around the Parkway before leaving and heard the telltale robins making a racket next to the 24th St. ramp to the expressway. I stopped to investigate and, just like last year, there was an eyass hanging out at the baseball field. I watched as it bounced around on top of the batting cage, then jumped down to the ground.

Then, a little stomping and mantling and off it went, carrying something into the pine trees nearby. It was dark under the trees but I am sure our intrepid hunter ate whatever it had carried there.

Next stop the trees on south side of Eakins Oval parking area. Go west, young hawk, go west -the Art Museum is just a block away!

Tuesday, July 13

Between 5 and 6 AM I saw no hawks in their usual haunts near the construction site or the Rodin Museum. Relying on last year's experience, I decided to check out the Art Museum. Yahoo! There, atop one of the griffins that adorn the museum's roof, was a squawking eyass. [Here is a picture of those griffins]

It flew to a streetlight below just as another hawk flew from the trees of Schuylkill Banks. The eyass took off for the museum again and I watched as it met Mom.

Not sure how many of the family I actually saw, but looks like the eyasses have discovered the same nifty hunting preserve as last year's eyasses.

Wednesday, July 14

Hawk stalking is a challenge after two days of torrential downpours in Philly. But, neither rain nor other inconveniences prevent our Franklin Institute hawks from hunting. Here is a wet eyass...

... and Mom near the Art Museum at 6:30 this morning.

Sandy Sorlien also did some hawk watching and reported and photographed that she saw "one wet eyass on the tall construction crane. It sat there looking over toward 21st & Callowhill for a while, then flew over there to the left of Whole Foods."

Thursday, July 15

Got to the Parkway extra early this morning (4:35) and found two eyasses still hanging out near the Barnes construction site. One was on the crane photographed by Sandy yesterday, and the other was atop the south Civil War monument. As I watched another hawk flew to 21st Street, then returned to a Franklin Institute window ledge. It was Dad, who left a little later for the library entrance balcony.

Interestingly, there was a small pile of twigs on the window where I saw Dad this morning (3rd floor at 20th St end of FI). Decided to check out the Art Museum area and found eyass #3, our "lone wolf", I think, sitting right where it was yesterday -- over the 24th St on-ramp to the expressway.

Friday, July 16

Decided to hang out at the Art Museum between 4:30 and 5:30. I was pretty sure a hawk was lurking in the pines (because a robin was chipping nervously the entire time), but it never revealed itself to me, even though a family of bunnies scurried around below. Driving down the Parkway to the Barnes site, I saw one eyass on a dead limb overhead, but it was too dark for pictures and, after squawking for awhile s/he flew off toward 21st St.

Saturday, July 17

Saw Dad and at least one eyass between 6 and 7 this morning a hawk flew by as I made my first loop through the Art Museum area, and I spotted Dad on a roof ledge when I returned later. Spotted an eyass perched on the east pediment of the library, then went searching for more of the family.

An eyass flew right at me from the library vicinity, hell-bent for a squirrel breakfast. It barely missed the critter, then spent the next half hour alternately squawking for free food...

... then making hunting runs and changing perches.

People often are completely unaware of how close they are to a hawk!


  1. Thanks so much for all your good work and for continuing
    to share. This is fascinating. During that awful recent rain
    storm I was wondering how the Hawk family, and the other
    wildlife were getting along.

  2. Thanks for keeping us informed with the beautiful pictures, I got a good laugh of the eyass on The Thinker's head. The commentary aids in understanding our "kids". Janet/coli

  3. Thanks so much for your comments and pictures!! Just wonderful. Makes me wish I could get myself down there that early to take a look! It has been a delight to keep abreast of the hawk story as it has unfolded.

  4. Thanks Della- sorry to hear about your horse and dog- hope they are doing as well as our eyasses- Kay's pix are priceless, as always, especially the one where the eyass is "attending to an itch"! I've been following Cardi's reports daily on FB, which are fascinating, as always. Thank you all- hope our "babies" soar high and free and mom and pop return to the nest next season.


  5. great job as usual! its like reading a documentary! My fav pic, of the hawk squawk!

  6. This is the first chance I've had in a while to check on our FI hawks. As usual, so much good reading and photos. Thanks to all who braved our wicked Philly heat to keep up with our hawk family. They must think that Carolyn is their sixth family member. :-)