Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of year wrap-up and start of new season

As 2011 draws to a close, Kay, Carolyn and I thought we should check on the Franklin hawks last Thursday as they gear up for a new nesting season.

We quickly found Dad sunning himself on an ornate ledge of the Family Court building near the Franklin Institute.  As soon as Kay pointed her camera up at him, he stepped forward, talons overhanging the ledge, and looked steadily down at us.

         Kay Meng

He looked in fine fettle - almost fat - with thick shiny plumage fluffing up in the breeze.  He soon left the ledge and dive bombed some pigeons near Logan Square.  He did not seem to be seriously hunting, and as the pigeons scattered he looped up onto a wooden light pole.

         Kay Meng

He definitely seems to have bulked up....

         Kay Meng

... from the skinnier tiercel we saw at the end of the summer.

          Scott Kemper

We looked all around for Mom but she was nowhere to be seen.  Dad, meanwhile, sat contentedly in the sun on top of his pole against an impossibly blue sky. 

He went through a whole routine of tail fanning...

         Kay Meng

... wing stretching

         Kay Meng

... and head scratching

         Kay Meng

... before taking off and heading towards the Franklin Institute.

We followed him over, hoping to see some nest activity, but no hawks were there.  The nest sticks look a bit lower than at the end of the summer.  When the Franklin Institute did its annual scrub of the ledge after the eyasses had fledged, they probably trimmed the mound of sticks back a bit to make a flatter area for this year's nest.

         Kay Meng

There are some longer twigs pointing up, indicating that the hawks have been bringing sticks to the nest. 

         Kay Meng

In the next few weeks, we should see lots more activity as the haggards get into high gear with nest improvements.

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A happy update on the CBS Philly Most Valuable Blogger Contest: 
Thanks to the unbelievably enthusiastic support of Franklin Hawkaholics literally worldwide, I'm delighted to say that this Hawkwatch blog won the People's Choice Award!! 

The prize was a $50 Amazon gift certificate which I delivered into Rick Schubert's hands at the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in appreciation of the wonderful job they did in rehabbing #3 back to health from her broken leg, and then hacking her out to learn how to fly strongly and hunt, both of which she was doing very effectively when released in to the wild at the end of the summer (see post from September 11, 2011).

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's celebration tonight, and I wish you all great happiness and success in 2012.  And get ready for another magical nesting season with the amazing Franklin Institute hawks!