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Red-Tailed Hawk Nest in Our Yard

The hatchling's age is measured starting from the day of hatching, or Day zero, which we estimate to be one day before we saw the first feeding on April 26th. Hence, for the commentary that follows, April 25 is "Day 0".

June 12th, Day 48, Saturday
Heloise very likely has fledged! At about 10 am, I heard a great commotion outside, with adult hawks doing victorious "yeearrr!" cries and blue jays yelling. I went out and saw a commotion in the canopy of our maple tree. I didn't see Heloise or any of the parents. But Heloise was not to be seen in the nest tree. I heard adult hawk "yeeaarrs" coming from two different directions, away from the maple tree, where Heloise probably was. The blue jays were away scolding the two noisy parents, who were probably doing what they could to distract the jays away from Heloise. I concluded then that she had fledged.

A couple hours later a friend saw Heloise back in the nest tree, so I thought that perhaps she had not fledged after all. In retrospect I believe this was her first flight.

June 10th, Day 46, Thursday.

The baby still has not fledged. Often when I come out to see it, I conclude that it had already flown, as it would be nowhere to be seen. On further viewing I would find him way out on a limb, further than I had ever seen him/her previously. At times now, he's as far as 8-10 feet from the nest, but more or less frozen in place, like a child at the end of a diving board afraid to jump.

I haven't seen any more calisthenics since Sunday. The parents have been continuing to bring him several meals a day. We may be at a stage where he's too comfortable with the frequent meals being brought in, and as long as this weather is misty, he/she is satisfied to stay put.

Sometimes he stares down Glen Road. At other times, he'll spend hours looking the other way, across Route 3, as though he wants to be prepared for wind coming from any direction.

Perhaps we'll see him/her get restless as soon as the weather improves.

June 7th. We're now at day 43. She's close to fledging, agilely hopping around the branches. Today she tried to move the tree! She grasped a branch, about 6 feet from the nest, and flapped her wings with all her might - for about 20 flaps.

May 14th. (Day 19)Things have been going along. See below for pictures that I've been adding. We expect the the first flight to be around June 9th, 44 days after the day that I first saw a feeding. Since this is an only hatchling, fledging may be a few days earlier than the 44-day value since the chick has been quite spoiled by its parents. I've hardly heard a peep or complaint out of the baby, as it's been very well fed. Often the feedings are twice a day. I assume it's a fresh meal each time.

May 5th. (Day 10) It's now clear that there's only one baby. It's growing amazingly fast. Where two days ago it was just a ball, today, when Mom left the nest, it awkwardly tried out its wings, and stumbled in the process.
May 4th (Day 9). The first view of a hatchling appeared today. See the first picture. More shots will be coming. I don't know whether I'm seeing one or two in the photo.
On April 26th, I saw the mom doing a very obvious feeding of something! So we may have one or more hatchlings! Having seen another feeding two days later (the 28th) gives me more confidence that we indeed have a new family. She was pulling meat from an animal in the nest, gulping it down, then stooping over with her tail in the air, reaching in to feed an unseen hatchling.
For counting purposes, I'm assuming the hatch date is April 25th, the day before I saw the first feeding. This will be "Day zero". Then the approximate date of fledging (when the baby takes first flight), 44 days later, will be June 8th. Until then the hatchling's main activities will be feeding and excercise, and, of course, growing!
If you come to see this, park on Glen Road, a couple of houses away from the corner, then come up to my driveway and view from there. The viewing points are not that good since the nest is so far up, and is well hidden by spruce branches.
The nest is in a blue spruce tree, at the corner of Rt 3 (Cambridge St) and Glen Rd, in Winchester, MA. Route 3 is busy with cars, trucks, buses, blaring sirens of all sorts, and more. Being about 65 feet up, the red-tail mom simply overlooks it all. Across Route 3 is a large yard, which will be a good landing area for the fledgelings' first flights - if they make it there! Flights in most other directions will be more hazardous.

I rarely see both hawk parents at the same time, and don't yet know how to distinguish them. I suspect that the male sits on the nest with his tail overlapping the edge, and that mom never does, but that's only a guess. On some days, Mom plaintively calls for her partner, often with no apparent response. She occasionally leaves the nest unattended for short periods of time.

This nest may have been occupied last year as well, without my realizing it(!), and for the two years prior to that, nests in two separate trees were behind a house a couple of doors up the street. Another neighbor claims that we've had nesting hawks nearby for about ten years.

Don Nelsen

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