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!