Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And then there were three.....

At sunrise on Monday, April 25, as the formel grabbed breakfast, there were still two eyasses and one egg in the nest.

The tiercel was keeping the pantry full of supplies including a baby rabbit and another rat, all close at hand for the formel to feed herself and the chicks.

At 8:00 AM, the tiercel bounced in with yet another small furry mammal....

 .... which he proceeded to tear into.

Then followed one of those amazing moments which normally we would never see except for the privilege of the camera feed into the nest.
 The tiercel pulled off small pieces of meat, leaned forward and tenderly fed the formel as she sat on the chicks and egg.

She eventually stood up and moved closer to the increasingly red meal, and he continued to feed her as she stood beside him.

The egg remained in the middle of the action surrounded by the fluffy eyasses.  How could they have fit into their eggs less than 24 hours ago?  There now seemed to be small pip on the remaining egg, and sure enough....

 ...when the formel stood up in the early afternoon, chick #3 was on its way into the world.  Janette Benner captured these images of the hatch.

 Mom watched carefully as her third eyass emerged into the hot Philadelphia afternoon.

By about 3:30, the eyass was fully out of its shell.

The formel moved in to cover the chicks....

and pushed the empty shell farther away.

As she settled in, three small heads appeared.  The hatching was complete.

Soon, she stood up and began to eat.  The hatchling was still wet and bedraggled, and noticeably smaller than its siblings.  Their approximately 36 hour start will give them a size and strength advantage over #3 who will only get its share of food when the other two are sated.

As the formel fed, one of the eyasses was clearly interested and hungry, while the other one gazed up at the window.

Within a couple of minutes, both eyasses  focused in on their feasting parent...

... and crawled towards her over their newly hatched sibling.  She started to feed them....

... and soon #3 was completely tromped under its siblings!

 The formel settled back down on the now sated youngsters....

.... but it wasn't long before the tiercel arrived with fresh food - as if any more were needed!  Appeared to be another baby rabbit.....

Dad was intensely interested in whatever had happened in his absence, peering intently at the formel, willing her to get up, it seemed. 

But she would not oblige, so he stood patiently and waited.  In the close to 85 degree sun we had yesterday in Philadelphia, you can see the tiercel's open beak as he panted in the heat.  The two oldest eyasses also had their heads poked out from under their mother.

So, fast forward to this Tuesday morning, April 26, and early camera watchers saw all three eyasses active.  The tiercel brought in fresh breakfast supplies, and the formel fed the chicks.  Here she is settling down as the morning rush hour starts up in the city.


  1. What a wonderful hawk family this is, thank you all who have contributed these lovely pictures to tell such a beautiful story!

  2. Am I the only one tearing up and emotional as I read how the tiercel fed the formel and looked at the pics? Wonderful!

  3. Another wonderful family of Red Tailed Hawks for us to watch! Thanks for posting the pics and info!! Love it!!!

  4. SunnyDixie,

    Can you please help reach out to John Blakeman?

    He just got involved with the NY hawk situation and is talking about putting them in the Bronx zoo - http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/hawk-cam-rescue-of-violet-planned-for-thursday/#more-307537.

    Please help the hawks!


  5. I believe that the parents bring the little twigs with the leaves to the nest to acclimate the little ones to their new environment when they start to fly.
    Thanks for the memories!