Friday, July 2, 2010

City hawks in city spots

Dawn visits to Hawk Central in the past week or so with Kay Meng and Carolyn Sutton have provided action packed hours of watching the eyasses zip around their city haunts. Kay and Carolyn provided these lovely pictures.

One thing we've noticed with this year's young hawks is that they seem much more comfortable with perching close to the ground in unusual spots. Here are the twins - so named because they are almost always together - sitting on a trash can and bench outside the Rodin Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Spiked fences present no problem.... but this had to be uncomfortable!

And they are getting smarter about landing on cars, using the windshield wipers for a firmer grip.

Then there is always the curbside next to traffic when they want to give us heart attacks! Notice the squirrel on the tree trunk staying as still as still can be. He is thinking, "HAWK! HELP!"

Another heart attack moment is when they take off from the grassy areas alongside the Parkway

and fly at extremely low altitude across the several traffic lanes. Up to this point (and may it continue) they seem to time their crossing flights when the traffic is held up at a red light, and the roadway is clear.

Those trees along the Parkway are still one of the eyasses' favorite spots for daytime perching

and from where they usually fly first thing in the morning as the sun rises.

The twins can often be found on one of the cranes at the Barnes Museum construction site...

... and here are all three eyasses on one of the smaller cranes as the sun was rising, waiting and squawking for a food drop from one of the haggards.

On Wednesday, June 30, Kay Meng watched as one of the eyasses "attacked" a stick that had a round seed pod attached.

It eventually grabbed the seed pod in its beak...

and then dropped and jumped on it several times, grasping it in its talons...

... until the pod was thoroughly subdued!

The eyass then flew into the trees alongside the construction site, and for a while there was no sign of any hawks. Then an eyass appeared from the trees and started gliding and soaring over us.

It was clearly one of the twins as its sibling almost immediately joined it and they tightly spiraled in flight above us...

... and then the perfect end to a magical morning of hawk watching when the third eyass joined them and we had all three in our sights.

On Thursday, July 1, Sarah Austin and her sister won this week's Early Bird award when they drove up from West Chester to meet Carolyn Sutton at 5:00 AM. Sarah proved that her hawk photography skills are superb when she captured the twins...

... just before they started play-tussling with each other.

For Friday, July 2, Carolyn Sutton provided the following report of her hawk watch:

"The three eyasses were hunting around the Barnes construction site this morning. Our 'lone wolf' was high up on one of the big cranes when I arrived at 4:45 a.m. and never budged until 6:00 a.m when s/he flew over to harass the twins. The twins flew into the construction site from opposite directions (one from the Parkway trees, the other from behind the Library) at about 5:30 AM. It was very quiet until 5:45 AM when the dynamic duo started squawking up a storm and took off to hunt. They both returned to the same light pole, one with food, one without. In the picture below, it's the one on the left light that has eaten (a small bird, I think).

All in all, a great week for the eyasses and for the hawk watchers and their cameras.

The image below forced me to misquote John Howard Payne's song!
Mid pleasures and perils though we may roam,
Be it ever so grand, there's no place like home;


  1. What a great post and pictures! Thanks so much.

  2. Thank you all (again) so much. I really, really enjoyed these pictures! I see the twins are still staying together.

  3. Lovely surprise to find this post, just when I thought this
    grand adventure was over. Thanks so much!

  4. Thanks for the update! The pictures are great, and it's exciting to read about the progress of the eyasses.

  5. Thank you for continuing the dream for those of us too far away! Always look forward to updates and pics!

  6. Loved all the photos and notes. Thank you so much.

  7. How beautiful!!! Thank you! In NYC last year I think on the west side of Manhattan, I witnessed a youngster doing the same with a pine cone. Pouncing on it, attacking it, etc. We were nervous thinking it was stuck in its claw, but, it was not..all was good.. But the behavior was identical to the youngster subduing the seed pod. Cathy

  8. As always, beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Eileen

  9. Thanks to all of the photographers and the originator of this blog. I so enjoyed watching the hawks from eggs to fledge and these pictures are such a beautiful chronicle of their adventures. I will miss them and hope they choose to nest at the Franklin Institure next year also. I am from Augusta, GA but have a daughter who lives in Philadelphia and would love to vist to hawk watch next year.

  10. Della, just a brilliant observation. Peg