Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eyasses doing beautifully two weeks after fledging

Apologies for the gap in posts.  End of school report writing for me has recently taken a lot of time, so this post will cover much activity since the young hawks fledged.  Carolyn Sutton and Shannon O'Donnell have been tireless in their early - really early! - morning observations and pictures which they have posted each day on the Franklin Hawkaholic facebook page, and which I have used here to keep track of the daily hawk activity. 

As always, I really appreciate the other hawk fans who capture so many fantastic images of the hawks, and generously share their work.

Two weeks after leaving the nest, the Franklin Institute eyasses are flying strongly...

          Scott Kemper

... and walking strongly!

          Scott Kemper

This year, more than any year previously, the eyasses seem precocious in their strength, flying skills, and speed of figuring out how to cope with life away from the nest.

Mom and T2 are doing a great job in providing food drops in various spots, and keeping track as the eyasses explore an ever-widening area.

          Katy Mae

                                  Scott Kemper


The goal each day for the early morning hawkstalkers is to sight all three eyasses.  It is easy to accomplish that when they gather together on the roof of the Franklin Institute, and wait for their breakfast food drop. 

          Katy Mae

       Shannon O'Donnell


As best we can tell, they are roosting most nights in the trees by the Barnes Museum. Occasionally, one appears from a ledge on the Franklin Institute.  One of the eyasses, nicknamed "the nesthugger," seems particularly drawn to the nest.

       Shannon O'Donnell
 

We don't know for sure if this is the same one that spent several nights back there after fledging, but pretty much every morning, there is an eyass on the nest at some point, or very close by.

                      Scott Kemper


Most mornings, the haggards can be found on the roof pediments of the Central Library or the Family Court buildings...

                 Shannon O'Donnell


... or on the street lights below.

          Scott Kemper


They are waiting for the rats to appear that live in a network of holes and tunnels alongside the Vine Street Expressway that runs beneath those pediments.

                   Shannon O'Donnell


Right around sunrise, the eyasses fly out from their roosts, and begin the unmistakable food calls that goad Mom and T2 into hunting mode.

Mom has moved down from the pediment and perches on a light pole waiting to pounce on a rat.  The rat holes are out to the right.  She is a deadly efficient sunrise rat hunter, and soon has her first catch of the day.

                             Carolyn Sutton


After she seizes the rat in her talons, she flies up with it to the fence above the rat holes.  The little birds sitting alongside probably feel fairly safe at this moment!

                   Shannon O'Donnell


Then she heads over to what we call "the picnic tree" because of its popularity as an eyass gathering and eating spot. 

           Carolyn Sutton



The picnic tree is a large sycamore on the corner of 21st Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway. 

                    Shannon O'Donnell


Something catastrophic has happened to it as it suddenly is almost completely dead.  The leaves that started to come out in the spring never fully appeared, and so it has a lacy, winter-like look in the middle of summer when all the surrounding trees are thickly foliaged.

                   Shannon O'Donnell


Sad as it is to see this beautiful tree dying, it does make it easy to see and count the hawks as they perch in its branches.  Mom is top left, having dropped the rat off to the eyass on the bottom right.  It is mantling over its prey to stop the other two above from even thinking about stealing it.

                   Shannon O'Donnell


The eyasses spend a lot of time in this tree preening as well as eating.

           John Arnold



T2 is really getting into his role as step-dad and provider for his new family.

           Shannon O'Donnell


He spends a lot of time sitting on poles and spotlights...

           Scott Kemper


... scanning the ground below for rodents...

           Scott Kemper


... and heading out in pursuit.

           Scott Kemper


These spotlights illuminate the gorgeous architecture of the Parkway buildings, but also provide excellent hunting spots for the haggards.

                    Shannon O'Donnell


           Katy Mae


There are many flag poles in this part of the city, and these too are used for hunting perches.

          Katy Mae

 

In addition to providing food for the eyasses, the haggards have to feed themselves.  Here, T2 has caught a young vulnerable bird - probably a recent fledgling.

           Katy Mae

           Katy Mae


He plucks it, spitting out feathers into the breeze...

           Katy Mae


 ... then gruesomely tears it apart.

          Katy Mae
  

When he has finished eating, he wipes off his beak

           Katy Mae
 

The falconry term for this is "feaking."

          Katy Mae


 
When everyone has eaten, the haggards tend to disappear, probably to perch and preen in some quiet spot, away from "the kids," who, like all youngsters, get energized as the day unfolds, playing around on the building du jour - usually the Franklin Institute.

                       Scott Kemper

        Scott Kemper

        Scott Kemper


They love finding new places to perch on the ornate carvings.

                         Shannon O'Donnell

        Katy Mae

        Katy Mae



Wherever they go, a haggard is always watching from a distance.  Here, though they are hard to see, are two eyasses on the roof above the nest, and the nesthugger is back on the nest.  T2 is on the lamp pole to the right.

           Carolyn Sutton


The eyasses are starting to make serious attempts at hunting, though we have not yet seen any captures.  Some little finches on the roof of the Barnes Museum caught this eyass's attention...

         Scott Kemper


... and it made several runs at them.

          Scott Kemper


The finches did not seem particularly perturbed by this huge hawk coming after them, and kept settling back on the roof, just tantalizingly out of reach.

          Scott Kemper


When things get slow, there's always the bathing ledge for entertainment...

           Shannon O'Donnell


... and with recent Philadelphia temperatures in the 90s, a quick dunk and fluff must feel great!
 
            Shannon O'Donnell



The eyasses are learning about mockingbirds, how much they hate hawks, and how they love to torment them.

            Katy Mae


The eyass cannot figure out what is happening...

                         Scott Kemper
 

... or what to do about it, as the mockingbird gets increasingly brazen.

            Katy Mae

             Katy Mae


Yelling doesn't help...

            Katy Mae


... so time to get outta there.

            Katy Mae
 

 As confident as the eyasses have become in their flying, there are still times when they misjudge a situation.

           Scott Kemper

                      Scott Kemper

            Scott Kemper
 
 
            Scott Kemper

            Scott Kemper


These next few weeks, as the eyasses become more adventurous, will provide some great opportunities to observe them improving their hunting skills.  No doubt, they will lead to us to a new part of the city.  Last year, the ball field at 26th Street was Hawk Central.  In 2010, it was the Rodin Museum garden.  I wonder where they will take us this year?

7 comments:

  1. Once again, many thanks for your recap. I love the words, the photos.... Great work!

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  2. Excellent narrative and wonderful photos. As always, you have captured my interest with your delightful descriptions of these hawk's antics. I am both entertained and educated. It's amazing to see how they have adapted,over time, to "city living". Beautiful birds.

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