Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another rescue, and so far so good

This morning, the third eyass remained quietly on the nest.  Amid mounting concern about its lack of energy compared to how its siblings had behaved prior to fledging, the Franklin Institute asked Rick Schubert from the Schuylkill Center’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic to take it off the nest and make an assessment.

I had spent the morning watching the fledged eyasses on the surrounding buildings as well as #3 on the nest.  About 30 minutes before Rick arrived, a haggard dropped off a rat at the nest.  #3 made loud food squawks, and this was the first time this spring that I have heard that sound from any of the eyasses, as they have been so well fed.  It grabbed at the rat, mantled over it strongly, and then started to tear into it and eat ravenously in a way that had not been seen in days.

I was invited to watch the proceedings in the Board Room, and so was lucky enough to witness the extraordinary care taken by Rick and the Franklin Institute staff to ensure the eyass's wellbeing.  Thanks go to Gene Mancini for these pictures.

Taking an eyass from the nest is much more complicated than putting it back, and Rick had to lean out backwards in order to reach his net around to the eyass without frightening it.  Fortunately, because they are so used to seeing people behind the window, the eyass was only mildly surprised when Rick first slid himself out onto the ledge.

At one point, the Franklin staff were holding onto Rick's legs to be sure he didn't take flight!  Rick slowly eased his net under and along the front of the nest, and gently laid it over the eyass.  There was no flapping or struggle.  He pulled the net slowly towards him until he could reach to wrap the soft netting around the hawk, and gather it safely through the window and into the room.

As Rick gently held the eyass, a hood was placed over its head to remove the visual stimuli that can be stressful, and the hawk visibly relaxed....

... as Rick gave it a quick examination, placed it into a box, and quickly headed back to the rehab clinic.

The early word on the hawk is that it seems generally healthy but young, and its feathers are still not ready for flight.  There will probably be more news tomorrow after further observation. 

                                    *             *             *             *        

Now, for some news of the fledged eyasses.  One of them was up on what we call the bathing ledge which runs above the nest the length of the building under the parapet.  This ledge slopes back and down and fills with water whenever it rains.  It is a favorite spot for the hawks to bathe, and this eyass has now learned all about it.  

At this point early in the morning, there were none of the all-star photographers present, so I had to use my mini-lensed camera.  The eyass is that tiny brown blob in the middle below the parapet.  It was soaking wet, and had a punk-like look with its spiky wet plumage.

It moved along the ledge toward the nest, and I suddenly saw the tiercel (dad) perched on the end of the ledge, keeping his eye on the nest eyass as well as the bather.  Dad is the other brown blob in there somewhere!

Carolyn Sutton's sharp eyes picked up the formel sitting in a tree over by the Barnes Museum construction site, so we now had four of the family in sight, but where was the remaining eyass?

Once again, Carolyn powered up her atomic eyesight and picked out a tiny eyass shape on the top of the book store at the corner of 22nd and Wood Streets near the Barnes Museum construction site.

I went over to check it out, and found the eyass looking perfectly at ease, looking back toward the nest and possibly at its mother in the nearby trees.

Some people on the street told me they had seen it eating and that around the front of the building there were feathers all over the sidewalk.  Sure enough, there were feathers everywhere.

At this point, I was joined by Mary Gamble Barrett who captured the eyass looking very smug as the current holder of the long distance flight record from the nest.


  1. Della, You probably can't begin to count all of the thank-yous we've sent you! Here's another one - "Thank you!". We can be cautiously optomistic at this point concerning our lone unfledged nester thanks to your dedication. Glad the rest of the family are doing so well, and so funny about the feathers on the sidewalk!

  2. This is an addition to my above comment - from what Rick said about the bird's feathers still not being ready for flight,it's safe to assume that this bird is definitely the rescued eyass from 6/13.

  3. Wish they wore name tags! But I think you're right.

  4. Thanks again, Della, for your devotion and lovely stories.

  5. One thing that was not mentioned, Della Micah was the one who expertly worked the thongs and got the hood over the bird's eyes to reduce its stress.

  6. Nice to see a post here from Rick. Since we now know you read the blog THANK YOU RICK from all of us dedicated hawkaholics. You have been there for us for the last 3 years and how we appreciate all that you have done!!!!! Goes without saying how we appreciate all that Della has done! <3 <3 <3 and wishing the best outcome for our Squishy.


  7. "Ditto" to MMG's post above! Rick, we know that your profession could certainly use many, many more members - we are so fortunate to have you in our area!

  8. Aha! So, Della, that's you putting the hood on Squishy in the picture, and you didn't even mention it in the picture's caption! How humble you are! We'll all be waiting to hear the latest news about Squishy.