Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We have lift-off again, but who?

At around 5:30 AM today, another eyass fledged and flew the short distance down from the nest into the tree on the corner of Winter and 21st Streets. Most likely, this was yesterday's #3 who had stayed on the nest all day Monday watching the drama unfold below of the grounded eyass and its rescue.  This eyass had looked energetic, frequently flapping and jumping on the nest yesterday.

Carolyn Sutton, hawk follower extraordinaire who spent most of yesterday down on Winter St. keeping track of the action, was there again early this morning, witnessed the fledge, and caught this glimpse of today's nest jumper in its tree.

The eyass who remained on the nest today (Tuesday) seemed much less active, and was probably the grounded eyass rescued yesterday by Rick Schubert who noted that its feathers were not fully developed for flight.  Throughout today, this eyass sat on the nest, ate when food was dropped off by a haggard, but seemed content to lie low.

The eyass that fledged first on Sunday, known as #1, was located this morning on the mezzanine roof of the old school district building (now apartments) next to the Franklin Institute on the other side of 21st Street.

Linda White's image shows it sitting on the edge of the mezzanine roof. 

John Blakeman analysed the size and shape of its feet and ankles (tarsi) from various photographs, and is pretty certain that #1 is a tiercel (male).  He had also already concluded that there is a least one formel (female) among the three.

An apartment dweller came down to tell Carolyn and Linda that he had just watched this eyass eat heartily from a food drop by one of the parents.  It's good to know that #1 has been fed since he fledged, and that the haggards know exactly where he is.

#1 then found a sunny corner in which to stretch out and sleep off his breakfast.  His head is facing into the wall, and the tail is towards us with the wing tips poking up a little.

Linda also photographed the newly fledged eyass testing out its arboreal environment, hopping and flapping from branch to branch, and steadily making its way up the tree to the topmost branches....

... where it settled...

... and took stock of the situation.

Then with some vigorous flaps, it got ready to launch...

... and headed across 21st Street to a tree on Winter Street very close to the apartment building where its sibling was napping.

From a slightly different angle, Mary Gamble Barrett caught the moment of take-off as the newly fledged eyass flew strongly on its way to the tree across Winter Street.

This eyass's behavior, energetic, intentional and able to climb and fly, was in stark contrast to yesterday's fledged eyass who made no attempt to get off the ground, and sought only to find a safe spot to hide - first the lily patch, and then the Franklin Institute doorway - as close to the nest as it could get.  It is extremely unlikely that this eyass could transform in 14 hours to today's tree-climbing flyer.

So it seems that perhaps the youngest eyass mistakenly left the nest yesterday when it was nowhere near ready to fly.  If that is the case, it spent today very appropriately resting up after its ordeal, while its two older fledged siblings stayed relatively close, and all three were under the experienced supervision of the haggards.

Darryl Moran, the official Franklin Institute photographer, has generously allowed me to share the pictures he took yesterday documenting Rick Schubert's rescue and return of the eyass to the nest.  (Read the previous blog post for a more detailed account.)

Rick makes netting the downed hawk look so easy.

His assistant prepares to place the hood over the eyass's head...

... and now the eyass is calm and much less stressed.

Rick, a gifted teacher, explains the procedure to the onlookers...

... and then eases the hawk into a cardboard animal carrier to take it up to the Board Room.

Inside the Board Room, the Franklin Institute staff lift out the window pane that was specially designed for quick access to the nest, while Rick removes the hood from the eyass....

... and takes it out of the box.

The eyass is slipped through the window and put back on the nest....

.... where its sibling waits with a late lunch item.

Darryl also took pictures of eyass #1 showing off its oh-so-recently acquired landing and take-off skills.

It's astonishing how fierce and mature these eyasses can look one minute...

... and then so young and uncertain the next.

Eyass #1 is waving from the current epicenter of hawkdom!

Once again, I must thank these most talented photographers - Linda White, Mary Gamble Barret, Carolyn Sutton and Darryl Moran - for generously sharing their images.

Finally, a couple of factoids from Google analytics: over the past four days the daily readership of this blog has exploded from 226, 815, 1553, to 1901 on Tuesday!   While by far the largest group of Franklin Institute hawk enthusiasts comes from the United States, other countries with significant interest are Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy and Brazil.

Our hawks are gaining an international following!


  1. Actually, at least one of those Swiss readers is a Philadelphian who is currently living in Switzerland but anxious to keep up with the important news from home! But I have shared the story with Facebook friends around the world.

  2. What a great job you've done! Just wanted to thank you (and the others) for your truly outstanding efforts.

  3. I'd love to know what the parents thought about yesterday's rescue.

    Continuing thanks for this fabulous coverage.

  4. Absolutely amazing, Della! There couldn't be a more fitting photo "advertising" where this story is coming from than the one of the eyass on top of the 21st & Winter street sign waving at the camera! It's as if he's saying "Come on down and join in the fun!" I have tears in my eyes. So proud to be a Philadelphian!

  5. Your blog is both charming and informative. We are grateful for your hard work!

  6. Thank you again for the narrative and marvelous photos.

  7. Forever grateful!
    Thank you Della....
    Thank you all ....

  8. Many, many of your new readers are from the nervous group watching Pip, the eyass on the NYU library ledge. If you have any thoughts on how we can help make sure Pip has a good fledge, we would love to hear them. She is probably 12 days from fledging (based on your hawks' timelines). We have access to assistance thru our DEP, which tags hawks and peregrines in the city. Lovely pix! Thanks so much for sharing.

    June 15, 2011 2:17 PM

  9. It's always good to have a certified wildlife rehabber on call in case Pip needs help or a rescue. When we got near the fledge date, hawk fans - one or two - were at the nest early in the morning (5:30 AM onwards) as they tend to fledge early in the day. Then we kept watch on the fledged eyass, just observing where s/he was. We have an informal network and stay in touch via cell phone, so we know when other folks are coming down.

  10. great blog sunny! and love all the pictures that our great group has submitted! For Pip lovers, have hawkaholics on the ground at all times and call for help when needed! We are all rooting for Pip too!


  11. Thank all of those involved in caring about and for the hawks.The pictures here and elsewhere are awesome and the dialogue here is a great help. Please add a chat friend in Romania to the over seas group who has been with us for 2 years. Thanks again, Janet Wlodek aka Colibri57

  12. I have alerted a couple of friends in France. One was here this weekend and I took him to FI on Saturday when two hawks remained in the nest. The other French friend is a member of LPO (bird protection society) and is on Facebook, so she gets news regularly.
    Thanks to all the wonderful photographers and to you, Della.

  13. Thank you so much for the explanations and the photos. Our family was really worried. We feel much better now!