Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Hawk Year: they're back!

 On this last day of 2010, I'm happy to report that the Franklin hawks are busy getting ready for 2011!

Kay Meng and I decided to check out the nest this morning, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the haggards.  We met at 8:00 AM on a cloudy morning by the nest, snow piles everywhere from the recent storm, but no sign of the hawks. 

Then, out of nowhere, the formel (mom) flew in carrying a stick for the nest.  She landed, moved to the back of the nest, settled down, and just about disappeared, demonstrating how deep the bowl of the nest is already.  She stayed there for a couple of minutes - enough time for Kay to get her camera locked and loaded, and ready for the formel's take-off.

We watched her fly to the end of the building and perch on the roof, then looked back at the nest just as the tiercel (dad) landed, also carrying a stick.  He too settled into the bowl, then took off a few minutes later.

For the next thirty minutes we were treated to non-stop action as the hawks flew back and forth from nearby trees to the nest carrying various sized sticks and twigs.  The tiercel worked harder, barely resting on the nest between trips, whereas the formel would bring a stick, then hang out on the nest for a while.


At one point, she flew to a nearby lamp post and watched as her mate did the heavy lifting!


Here's the tiercel lining up precisely for a landing.

He tried to carry a really big branch and dropped it before he could get it to the nest.  I put a coffee mug beside it to show the scale of what he was trying to carry.

Perhaps realizing that his reach was exceeding his grasp, he scaled back and successfully landed his next delivery

Both hawks look fat, healthy and in fine feather - quite a change from when we last saw them in their summer molt, looking quite scraggy.  The tiercel's white bib under his beak is in contrast to the formel's chocolate coloring.

What a treat to spend the morning with these magnificent birds. 

Seeing the hawks so obviously committed to their nest is a wonderful harbinger of the delights to come in 2011.

Stay tuned!


  1. I was elated to see this. Such a sign of spring. Did they migrate or hang around town during the fall?

  2. Thanks for these amazing pictures! A wonderful anodyne for a work issue having woken me up early on the first day of the year.

  3. I think they stayed in Philadelphia. They did not migrate last year, and being birds of habit, seemingly, they stayed in the city of plenty....plenty of squirrels and pigeons!

  4. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing these photos with all of us!

  5. So very happy that we will have our hawks again this new year. I was just wondering the other day when they would start their nest cleaning.
    Can't wait to be glued to the computer waiting for eggs to hatch.
    Thank you Della and Kay for all of your hard work.

  6. MaryAnne Lyons (Ms Arminia)January 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Beautiful pictures! So glad the city has so many fine "dining establishments" (Chez Squirrel, the Pigeon Cafe) to keep the hawks here all winter.

  7. This is such exciting news. I drive past the nesting box each week and scan the trees and other perches for signs
    of the Redtails. Can't thank you all for your devotion and generosity in keeping the Hawk news updated and providing these spectacular pictures.
    Made my day!! Happy New Year to all !!

  8. Big smile! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. I've been thinking about our fine feathered friends lately. What a treat to know that we can look forward to nest watching again this Spring!

  10. Great photos. I have been seeing hawks on a regular basis from our lunch room on the 18th Floor of the Cira Center all fall and winter. Glad to see these guys back on the next.

  11. Thank you for the wonderful pictures! They are back! Tess

  12. Thank you so much for the update and the photos. I had lost my link to this site and again thank you for the posting. This summer and fall I've seen a few red tail hawks out here in the NW burbs of Chicago. Not the same, but still exciting.
    Thanks again

  13. Thank you for your wonderful reporting, and Kay's great photographs. Last fall I saw what I figured was one of the Franklin Institute hawks at the construction site near the Whole Foods. Just last week I saw a hawk in my Fitler Square neighborhood. What a treat to know we have another nesting/hatching/fledging season to look forward to!

  14. Any news on when live camera will be back? And how's nest-building going with all the snow?

  15. Today saw a pair of red tails perching and flying around HUP @ 34th and Spruce (nicely visible as I crossed "the bridge" from the Penn Towers parking garage). Could this be the Franklin Institure pair? or another? I don't know what their range is. Any thoughts?