Avid nest cam watchers were pretty sure, based on the hawk's behavior, that she laid her third egg this morning at about 8:40 AM. She stood up at 8:55 AM to check out what had just happened...
Mary Gamble Barrett
... but artfully concealed any view of the eggs, just about driving the hawk cam watchers over the edge!
T2 landed on the nest, and at 9:36 AM she stood up again, stepped back and we could see one... two...
... and finally three eggs!
Mary Gamble Barrett
Hawk fans in New York were anxiously awaiting news, and this image was immediately posted on the NYU hawk cam (NYU has a red-tail hawk nest on the window ledge of President John Sexton's office. Their nest also has three eggs, and is about 10 days ahead of the Franklin Institute nest.)
Parker - NYU Livestream nest cam
Earlier in the morning before the egg laying, T2 flew in with a nutritious breakfast snack of vole.
She grabbed it unceremoniously...
... prepared for take-off
... cleverly maneuvered it from beak...
... to talon in mid-flight...
Not long after she consumed the vole, she returned to the nest and laid her third egg. After all the uncertainty in January, February and early March as to whether they would nest again at the Franklin Institute (see previous blog entries for those months), it was simply wonderful this morning to see a hawk family of five again.
T2 did not linger long, but set out to find a spectacular gift for Mom and the eggs. He soon returned with a huge sprig of oak leaves...
She seemed happy to receive this, and after tweaking the leaves into position, settled back onto the eggs.
T2 bounced back in with a beakful of grass! He definitely has his own style of decor.
Will there be a fourth egg? Very unlikely, though not impossible. In recent years the nesting pair of red-tails at Fordham University successfully raised four eyasses, but that is extremely rare. Most rural red-tails only lay two eggs, but the plentiful food supply throughout the winter months around urban nests such as those at the Franklin Institute, NYU and Fordham ensures optimum nutrition for the formels, and so all those nests have had at least three eggs each year.
So now starts the long period of incubation. From the laying of the third egg to the first hatching has always been in the range of 32 days, so sometime in the first week of May we should see the first eyass hatch.
Unlike many bird species where the female does the brunt of incubation, red-tail hawks share the work-load. The original Franklin tiercel - Dad - was the most enthusiastic egg tender ever. He would literally push the formel off the eggs when he landed on the nest, and she had to be quite aggressive to get him up and off the eggs so she could settle back on them (see blog entry "As the Nest Turns" March 27, 2011).
It will be fascinating to watch how T2 handles this incubation period. So far, he seems pretty enthusiastic about his nest duties, willingly taking his turn on the eggs.
He and Mom are working out the choreography of the changeover so that they don't inadvertently step on an egg. As she flies in, he crouches down at the back of the nest to give her maximum landing room.
He steps over the nest bowl to allow her to reach the eggs.
Then he pushes off powerfully from the nest...
...and heads out into the morning sunlight.
What a privilege it will be to watch these magnificent hawks in the coming weeks.