Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mom and T3 - it's looking hopeful!

Though 2014 did not have an active nest at the Franklin Institute, and to the best of the hawkstalkers' knowledge Mom did not have a nest anywhere this spring, or even a settled mate, I am so happy to fire up the blog again to tell you that Mom and her new beau, T3, are not only a pair, but are hanging out in all the old familiar places.

Here they are just five days ago on December 19 sitting on the library ledge across from the Franklin Institute...

          Kevin Vaughan

... and three days ago (December 21) sitting even closer to the nest in trees near the Barnes Museum, with Mom taking her customary higher perch.

                             Carolyn Sutton

But let's backtrack to the confusing days of last spring (see March 2014 blog posts) when it appeared that Mom and T2 were going to build a new nest high above the train yards of 30th Street Station, until the tragic loss of T2 apparently hit by a train while hunting near the new nest site.  Mom was then pursued by a series of eager young tiercels, and as spring wore on into summer it was not at all clear if she had paired up with one of these hawks, and we never saw her engaged in any nesting activity.

At various points in the summer loyal hawkstalkers Carolyn Sutton, Kevin Vaughan and Dinko Mitic reported sightings of Mom with a tiercel who appeared to be same one heading into the fall, and he was referred to as T3.

Before I go any further, I must give a huge shout-out to Carolyn, Kevin and Dinko for their extraordinary photographs of these hawks over the past three months.  Just when you think you have seen the most beautiful images possible, they produce even more exquisite work taken literally from dawn to dusk. Without their generosity in allowing me to use their images, this blog could not be.

On a gorgeous day in early October, Dinko Mitic hit the mother lode (Mom lode?) of hawk sightings when he found Mom and T3 together on one of the gryphons atop the Art Museum.

            Dinko Mitic

Over the course of that morning (October 9), Dinko followed them as they hopped and flew around the Art Museum, itself an iconically beautiful building that showcased the hawks to perfection.

            Dinko Mitic

Mom has always favored the tip-top spires at the Museum, and it was so good to see her back in one of her favorite haunts.

                                       Dinko Mitic

            Dinko Mitic

 When she took off...

                                       Dinko Mitic

... she soared powerfully above the Museum...

            Dinko Mitic

...and you could see the final feathers in her red tail growing in after the summer molt.

                                       Dinko Mitic

Below, T3 watched her every move as she flew up above him...

            Dinko Mitic

... and then farther away.

            Dinko Mitic

T3 likes the ledges under the roof, perhaps to shelter from the wind...

                                       Dinko Mitic

            Dinko Mitic

... or to keep an eye on Dinko and his camera below!

            Dinko Mitic

Mom stayed up top on another favorite perch - the paw of a gryphon...

            Dinko Mitic

... until it was time to head out, and end this magical series of images.

            Dinko Mitic

Exactly a month later on November 9, Carolyn and Kevin spied a hawk in a tree alongside the ball field near the skate park - that dot near the top of the middle tree.  This is typical of fall and winter hawkstalks when the leaves are down - you can see the hawks so much more easily even from a distance.

                               Carolyn Sutton

It turned out to be T3 with his noticeable white chin...

             Carolyn Sutton

             Kevin Vaughan

... and prominent dark band across the bottom of his tail.


                                      Kevin Vaughan

T3 engaged in some seriously agile preening that day.


             Carolyn Sutton

After that, it was pretty quiet for the hawkstalkers until December 13. And from that day going forward, it has been non-stop action from Mom and T3 around the Franklin Institute area, almost as if she is introducing him to all the amenities adjacent to that prime piece of nest-estate: the rat farm, the pigeon bar, and many primo perching locations from which to launch a hunt.


December 13

Carolyn found T3 sitting on the Family Court building...

             Carolyn Sutton

             Carolyn Sutton

A passerby then alerted Carolyn to another hawk sitting on the adjacent Library  - it was Mom!

                          Carolyn Sutton

She was definitely watching T3 over at the Family Court.

                          Carolyn Sutton

The Library and Family Court are only about a block away from the Franklin Institute across the Ben Franklin Parkway, so it was exciting to know that both hawks were together in that area.


December 14

Mom introduced T3 to one of the great pigeon look-outs on Logan Square - the spotlights that surround the Swann Fountain. She took her usual high perch above him.


             Carolyn Sutton

When the fountain is operating, water gushes out from this fish's mouth - one of the many statues that comprise this magnificent fountain.  In the background, behind the hawks on their spotlight, is the Franklin Institute.

             Carolyn Sutton

T3 flew over to the Library, immediately followed by Mom, and they sat there close together for over an hour...

             Carolyn Sutton

             Carolyn Sutton

... until the lure of pigeon for lunch over at the Family Court proved irresistible, much to the pigeons' consternation.

             Carolyn Sutton


December 16

T3 was waiting for Carolyn on Logan Square on this foggy morning, but no sign of Mom.

             Carolyn Sutton

This panorama shot of Logan Square with T3 on the spotlight on the right shows its proximity to the Franklin Institute in the background. T3 is definitely in the zone.

             Carolyn Sutton

During the morning, he moved to several different spots around Logan Square.  Here he is in a tree near the Cathedral, with the old Philadelphia Inquirer building in the background.

                            Carolyn Sutton

At lunchtime, Dinko took a stroll and saw Mom in a tree in the Sister Cities park on the south side of Logan Square.  She had clearly just finished a large lunch judging by her bulging crop.

                                       Dinko Mitic

T3 was nearby with City Hall in the background.

                                       Dinko Mitic

             Dinko Mitic


December 17

Today, Carolyn found Mom and T3 together in various trees near the Franklin Institute. Here they are in favorite trees in front of the Barnes Museum - one way on the right; the other over on the left.

             Carolyn Sutton

Then they headed to Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum.

                                          Carolyn Sutton

Later in the day, Dinko saw Mom flying overhead near the Library.

          Dinko Mitic


December 18

This was an extremely eventful and exciting day that took a while to unravel, and it was only after careful analysis of their photographs that the hawkstalkers finally were able to figure it all out.  In the morning gloom, Kevin and Carolyn originally thought that the hawk on the roof of the Franklin Institute coughing up a casting (similar to an owl pellet) was T3.

          Kevin Vaughan

              Kevin Vaughan

                       Kevin Vaughan

It turned out to be an interloper - a juvenile hawk. T3 zoomed over from the Library to chase off this threat to his territory...

          Kevin Vaughan


                                             Kevin Vaughan


... and the fight was on!  The interloper is on the left.  If you double-click on the image it will enlarge, showing the yellow eyes that distinguish a juvenile from a mature hawk which has dark eyes.

           Kevin Vaughan

As T3 started to get the better of the interloper, you can see the brown barred tail that also marks it as a juvenile.

                         Kevin Vaughan

T3 finally had the invader realizing that this was not a fight he could win...

                         Kevin Vaughan

... and T3 chased him away from the Franklin Institute.  Kudos to Kevin who showed great presence of mind to keep shooting through all this drama!

          Kevin Vaughan


An interesting footnote to the morning's activity was this view of the Civil War Monument covered in pigeons.  Throughout the summer, they had free range of the Library, Family Court and the Franklin Institute. Now that Mom and T3 are in town, plus the invading juvenile, there aren't so many safe spots for pigeons.

          Kevin Vaughan

Later that same day, Dinko saw T3 patrolling the Franklin Institute...

            Dinko Mitic

... and then landing there.

            Dinko Mitic

Let's hope T3's fierce "Don't mess with me or my building" expression portends future move-in plans for the nest.

            Dinko Mitic


What a beautiful hawk - T3 - Mom has found for herself.

            Dinko Mitic

And just when you thought the day couldn't get any more exciting, look what cruised right over the Franklin Institute!  This is probably the bald eagle that has often been seen by Boathouse Row behind the Art Museum. Fortunately, T3 kept his powder dry, and did not get involved with this guy!

            Dinko Mitic


December 19

Carolyn had a dawn sighting of Mom framed by the Liberty One and Liberty Two buildings.

                           Carolyn Sutton

Kevin found T3 heading to the Library with a mid-morning snack - probably a starling.

          Kevin Vaughan

                      Kevin Vaughan

          Kevin Vaughan

          Kevin Vaughan

Mom arrived for some snack...

          Kevin Vaughan

... which she got, of course, and then they sat together for a while.  This image shows really well how much bigger Mom is than T3, and how much darker she is on the head and chest.

          Kevin Vaughan

The she took off towards the Parkway.

          Kevin Vaughan

          Kevin Vaughan

T3 soon followed, taking the urban route to the ball field.

          Kevin Vaughan


December 20

The Day of the Rat!  Carolyn was on pre-dawn patrol in Logan Square, and in the near darkness saw Mom swoop down from her spotlight into the bushes below.  When Mom flew back up she was not carrying anything.  T3 eventually flew in and perched nearby, as always, lower than she.

                             Carolyn Sutton

After a while, he flew down to where she had swooped earlier, and had a HUGE rat in his talons. Did Mom swoop and miss, and then T3 get the job done?  Or because the tiercel always chooses the nest site, did she leave the rat there to impress him with the easy abundance of food should he choose to nest in the neighborhood?!  Probably not, but it's a fun thought!

                                   Carolyn Sutton

He managed to haul it up onto a lamp...

                Carolyn Sutton

... and then finally got it into a tree.

             Carolyn Sutton

Mom, meanwhile, watched inscrutably from her nearby tree.

             Carolyn Sutton


December 21

On the first day of winter, Mom and T3 were together again...

                               Carolyn Sutton

... and moving ever closer to the Franklin Institute. They are together in the tree - look above the roof line  - one above the other.

             Carolyn Sutton

Mom

             Carolyn Sutton

T3
                          Carolyn Sutton


December 22

So just three days ago, Kevin saw both Mom...

                     Kevin Vaughan

... and T3

                              Kevin Vaughan

... just a block or two north of the Franklin Institute.  While it is obviously still too soon to tell if the Franklin Institute nest will feature in their future plans, the early signs are encouraging.

And if you have made it to the end of this Christmas Day mega-post, you are truly a Hawkaholic!

I am sorry that I have not written in so long.  I was so discouraged by the events of last spring, and then the empty nest.  I thought that Hawkwatch at the Franklin Institute was over after five amazing years since 2009. But there are definitely hawks to watch again at the Franklin Institute, so stay tuned!

19 comments:

  1. Thank you Della for this lovely Christmas Present! If we ALL "wish" hard maybe there will be a true "present" in the Spring w'a return to the FI nest site! The "Hawk Stalkers" have done a fabulous job of illustrating your exciting content! Thank you all and a Happy New Year to all Hawkacholics!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your good thoughts. So glad you enjoy the blog. Let's hope for lots more hawk activity for future posts!

      Delete
  2. Hi Della, I was really missing your posts and hoping for your return. Once again, from the other side of the Atlantic I'm looking forward to watch, once again, the magic events so well illustrated. I've been in Philadelphia last Summer and while visiting the Museum I couldn't avoid looking for the nest and there it was, on the 2d floor window. I'm so glad they came back..so did you! Merry Christmas and surely this was a very nice gift to an Hawkacholic :) Bye

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello!! So good to hear from you. That's exciting you were in Philadelphia last summer and saw the nest. Let me know the next time you come - I'd love to show you other spots where the hawks go, etc. Thank you for being such a loyal reader of the blog.
      Della

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful Christmas night gift, Della! All the Mom and T3 activity in FI area has me cautiously optimistic.And big thanks, as always, to the fabulous photographers who bring it all alive, so beautifully, for us. Happy New Year to all!! Ann in Devon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ann, You are such a loyal reader of this blog for so many years! Let's hope 2015 will bring lots of hawk action for us to enjoy. Della

      Delete
  4. Just passed the FI nest box, wondering what if anything was happening. Returned home to find this unexpected wonderful reportage and fabulous photos!! Heartlifting!!
    Many thanks to everyone involved.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So glad to read the new posts. Hope they nest at the F.I. once again!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks so much for the good news and wonderful photos! The NYU (camless) chat room is rooting for you all!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Welcome back and thank you and the crew for their hawk stalking and fantastic photos.
    I think we can be pretty sure they will be nesting at or near the FI as T3 wouldn't have run the juvie off with such vigor.

    m_pipik

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, Della and photographers! What a wonderful post. So good to catch up with news on our Philadelphia feathered friends. Talons crossed that Mom and T3 continue to bond and then use the FI nest!
    — GhentArt

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the posts. Nice to be here again. Birds of a feather blog together...(Chap55)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi. Any additional news to report?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just wondering if anyone has been to the institute area recently and able to report any news, siteings? Much thanks from Albany, NY.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Della, Just catching up with your blog. On pins and needles waiting to find out what is happening now. Where do you all hang out to make such wonderful observations of these birds? Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
  13. Saw a female Red Tail (Mom?) today landing in a large nest in one of the trees by the Eakins Circle parking lot.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for posting this. I was hoping that the Franklin Institute would "bait" the hawks by providing food in the nest with hopes that they would use their nest.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Della - I think it would be one of your hawks that came visiting yesterday - early morning. At 9th & Pine. I took a few pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  16. On two separate occasions this week, I saw a juvenile red tail on the grass between Eakins Circle and the ball field working on a meal. I had to chuckle as there were at least three tourists taking pictures of it today.

    ReplyDelete