Dinner time!

The red-tailed hawk parents across the canyon are being kept busy by their hungry chicks. This year they have a trio of youngsters to feed–last year they successfully fledged two chicks–but apparently they’ve not had any trouble finding enough food for all three of them. If I had the luxury of staying home all day to watch hawks I’d probably get to see several feedings throughout the day. As it is, most days this week I’ve been able to watch a late afternoon feeding when I come home.

The chicks are now big enough to thermoregulate on their own, and quite often will be left in the nest alone for extended periods. The other day when I was home for lunch I happened to see the mama hawk fly up the canyon and alight in a pine tree close to my house. A quick check of the nest showed that the chicks were sleeping (I didn’t see any fuzzy lumps above the rim of the nest) so I concentrated on the mom and was able to take this photo:

Female red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), taking a break from nest duties. 13 April 2016 © Allison J. Gong

Female red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), taking a mid-day break from nest duties.
13 April 2016
© Allison J. Gong

All told she was away from the nest for about 15 minutes. She basked in the sun, did a bit of preening, and spent quite a lot of time looking down (I assume for prey on the ground). A raven and a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds tried to engage her in some extracurricular activity, but she ignored them.

This afternoon I got home at about 17:30 and went out back to check on the nest. Turns out I made it home just in time to view the evening feeding. One of the parents, I couldn’t tell which, was feeding the chicks long bloody strips of some mammal that had gray fur. All three chicks were fed. Here, see for yourself:

The chicks are growing real feathers now and look like awkward pre-adolescents. They’ve lost the cuteness of the fluffy baby stage and haven’t yet attained the badassness of their parents. In fact, right now they’re downright ugly. In the next couple of weeks they’ll start looking like punky teenagers as their feathers continue to come in. They’ll also spend more time walking around the nest.

Oh, and by the way, the nest is attracting flies now. Good thing birds don’t have a keen sense of smell, because it’s gotta be pretty stinky up there, what with all the bird poop and rotting bits of previous meals. Also good (for the humans in the neighborhood) that the nest is about 100 feet above the ground.

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