The good news through Sunday was that Mom and T2 were together ....
... and had started to gather sticks and take them to the ledge.
The bad news through Sunday was that the ledge was not at the Franklin Institute, but about five blocks away and seven floors up on the GlaxoSmithKline building at 17th and Vine.
The GREAT NEWS is that, after several weeks of waiting and worrying that they would not return, and thus no more Franklin hawks, on Monday morning, bright and early, Mom and T2 were finally on the nest at the Franklin Institute.
And now for the long version!
During those several weeks, the only hopeful sign was that the hawks were clearly a bonded pair. Most every day, diligent hawk stalkers - notably Carolyn Sutton, Shannon O'Donnell, and Kevin Vaughan - could find them within a few blocks of the Franklin Institute, but it was not until a couple of weeks ago that the hawks started gathering sticks.
For the past four years with the original pair of Mom and Dad, their stick gathering led immediately to nest refurbishing on the Franklin Institute ledge, and the sticks grew visibly higher as they flew ceaselessly back and forth to the nest.
But this year, the nest remained flat and barren with no sign of new sticks from one week...
... to the next.
Several times, T2 sat tantalizingly close on the lamp pole right in front of the nest...
... and even closer, up on the balustrade ledge right above the nest, but he showed no inclination to go any closer.
Meanwhile, Mom was busy gathering sticks....
... but flying with them in the complete opposite direction, away from the Franklin Institute, and toward the cathedral at Logan Square.
She seemed almost confused about what to do next, sometimes placing them on top of the entirely impractical arched windows ...
... or even less likely nest sites.
Then it got worse! She started flying from the cathedral to the GlaxoSmithKline building a block away.
She favored the second ledge from the top, seven floors up from the street, but often perched on the ledge below.
To call it a ledge is optimistic; it's really a bridge across the front of the window with open space on either side, and a sheer drop to the ground below. You can see the sticks hanging off the back of the ledge/bridge above her. It was a nightmare scenario to imagine eggs up there or eyasses on their ledging adventures. Fortunately, the wind kept blowing the sticks away....
T2 occasionally brought a stick, but more often just sat there, showing no interest in actually doing some nest work.
As February wore on, the hawks seemed increasingly disorganized in their behavior. Were they ever going to get it together to build a nest that would actually hold together? Was it getting too late to expect eggs? Why did they act like complete amateurs when there was a magnificent nest ready made, waiting for them, that had already launched twelve young hawks into the world?
As always, when we have thorny hawk questions, I asked John Blakeman for his thoughts:
"Curious, at the least.
... and starts to work on the sticks. Mom looks stunned that this is actually happening!
... and then starts rearranging them.