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The Story of Buzz & Ruby - Part I w/Lucky, Lucy, & Larry

Will Buzz and Ruby return to their old digs next year?
See Comments below to read Paul Roberts latest Alewife Red-tails report. But check out this Picasa photo link for location of possible nest for next year. Actually, it's most likely Buzz & Ruby's old nest:

http://picasaweb.google.com/ErnieVPFS/ShellStationNestAtCircle#

Photos of first social gathering of the Alewife Red-tail "Hawk Stalkers":
http://picasaweb.google.com/117015767935538270468/AlewifeHalkStalkerSPic...

Great Red-tail Coverage by David Dahl at Boston.com. Click on this link:
http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/cambridge/2010/06/the_young_red-tail...

David Dahl's Bio at the Globe:
http://bostonglobe.com/news/resources/bio.aspx?id=5362

NEW!!!
Check out Leika's Red-tail photo site. She tells a story with her photos and captions. Great learning tool for anyone, including children: http://web.me.com/lnpnmobileme1/RedTail/Home/Home.html

New Cover photo by John Harrison back from Broadway - NYC. See John's latest Medford Wildlife Watch blog:
http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/wildlife/

Ernie Sarro's "The Expert Series" can be seen all around Boston. This show chronicled the Buzz & Ruby phenomenon by compiling Ernie's You Tube eposodes into one 50 minute show. (Note: Larry's eventful first day out of the nest will be added later.)

Part One documents the lives of a Red-tail family of five who nested high upon an office building in the Alewife Reservation area of Cambridge, MA. Though this has many similarities to the epoch "Pale Male" story near Central Park NYC, the stark exposure of the Alewife nest made observing this family, even with the naked eye, an unforgettable experience that for three months served as a unifying force to a culturally and socially diverse urban community. Buzz, Ruby, Lucy, Larry, and Lucky in no small way have changed and added to a community's understanding of nature as so many people devotedly followed (and still follow) every aspect of this Red-tail families life.

More Media coverage. This time FM radio:
Mike Morgan, “Big Daddy”, from FM 93.7 (WMKK - Mike Radio) did a very fun interview with me and set up a great blog with photos and videos. I was surprised how professional it came out. The link goes to “Big Daddy’s” blog and in the text he has a link to the audio that aired on his program.

http://blogs.937mikefm.com/bigdaddy/2010/06/10/hawks-gone-wild-the-new-s...

See more by going to Ernie Sarro website: www.GoToErnie.com and click on Ruby.

Contact Ernie at info@TheExpertSeries.TV.

Comments

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Wed 6/09/10 10:11 AM To: Arlingtonbirds (arlingtonbirds@yahoogroups.com)

Forty-eight hours after the last chick left the nest, and so far all birds are doing well. A network of sharp-eyed followers has been observing intermittently.

Ruby and Buzz are now in relative seclusion on wooded private business property, along with at least two of their fledglings, Larry and Lucy. There are cars, but no heavy traffic at 30-40 mph, and there are plenty of large trees and low roofs, so it is a good spot for young hawks and their parents. Lucky is reportedly spending most of his time on the roof of the reddish-brown office building on Fresh Pond Parkway next to the Best Western, and spending nights in Fresh Pond Reservation. The “runt” appears to have a mind of his own.

I encourage people to respect property rights by not going on to private posted business property. Early Monday morning we were on that property observing the birds for about an hour as people arrived at the workplace. As more workers arrived, a manager came out and politely asked us to leave the private property, which everyone did. I understand that some people went onto the property yesterday afternoon/evening. They might not have known about the earlier request. Whatever, this property is posted and any birder should respect the posted signs, the fact that people have politely been asked to leave (twice), and that it is somewhat of a sanctuary in the real sense of the word for this family of hawks.

I walked the public area this morning before sunrise and saw and heard nothing. Not even other hawk addicts. I then went to a high, public spot where I could scan the entire area.

At 6:04, Lucy popped out of the trees onto a rooftop air conditioner. A minute or two later, Larry flew up to the edge of the roof of the same building, then strolled over to the air conditioner and hopped up, right across the corner from Lucy. You could easily recognize Lucy. She is the only hawk with a large “CAUTION — WIDE LOAD” sign on her back (I think it is required by law!) The two hawks touched beaks several times with little pecks, (not kisses.) Within minutes, Larry made a strong flight down to the ground, and Lucy glided down five minutes later, at 6:15.

At 6:16, Buzz arrived at “Ruby’s Perch” on the weather station bar in the electric substation. A moderately large, light gray bird was clasped in his talons, looking a lot like a Mockingbird. Buzz started plucking the prey and did so steadily for about five minutes, rendering any more identification moot. He then stopped and just sat there holding the prepared prey for 20 minutes(!), just looking around. What the heck was he doing? Several times he looked right at me, obvious though at least an eighth, maybe a quarter of a mile away. Was he being wary about delivering prey to Ruby or a fledgling? This was not the Buzz who would swoop in, drop off some prey, and buzz out of the nest in a whirl. At 6:35, Lucy helicoptered on to the edge of a building in the “sanctuary.” She just sat there, but at 6:41 she flew a strong direct flight to Buzz on the weathervane. Her awkward, haphazard landing did not impress, but was appropriate for someone who has been out of the nest flying... and landing... for only 49 hours. She grabbed the bird from Dad, acting as though she were a tightrope walker, trying to balance herself on the perch with food in her talons. At 6:42, Lucy departed the weathervane and landed on the roof from whence she came. Buzz now left his perch and landed near Lucy, and I saw a flash of Ruby flying low between the trees. Larry flew up from below and landed on the roof next to Lucy, but she mantled (spread her wings out over) the prey and showed no inclination to share her meal with her middle, but more experienced brother. Ironically, two Blue Jays and a third unidentified passerine began strafing Larry, who fly-hopped into a nearby tree, drawing all the avian irritants with him. Lucy remained alone on the roof with her prey, which she proceeded to “wolf down” in less than three minutes. One can get hungry flying around. Lucy then dropped off the building and the show was over. No Redtail activity was visible for the next 15 minutes, and I left.

I was impressed. Buzz was obviously teaching his eldest she had to fly to get fed. He had waited patiently, for more than 20 minutes, until Lucy flew to the food. No more direct deliveries. I didn’t hear either bird calling, but I wouldn’t have, even if one of them had used a jackhammer to communicate. I was too far away, looking through a spotting scope, and my hearing is bad enough that I can’t hear them calling 100 yards away.

Buzz and Ruby probably will continue to watch over their kids for something like 4-6 weeks. Guiding them to fly to precaptured and cleaned prey, and then hunt and clean prey on their own, feeding and then weaning them in the process, and watching over them. The literature cites cases where the parents stopped maintaining their fledglings 13 days after they left the nest, and others where offspring were maintained as long as 70 days. (I’ll never forget when Buzz delivered a squirrel to the nest. The chicks were obviously hungry, and one of them pecked at the body, but they had no idea of how to get the food out of the wrapper. They sat there looking at the “shrink-wrapped” meat until Ruby flew in, began tearing off the fur, and “opened” the squirrel’s container. She fed them a couple of bites, and then the chicks began eating directly. Another teachable moment.)

I’ve gotten a couple of questions from people about identifying the hawks at a distance. When you see the adults, even if you don’t see the red tail, the adults look brassy or even golden around the head and neck. The upper body is a rich, reddish-bronzish brown. When the wings are closed, you see the dappled or mottled back and upperwing coverts, “the minipuff marshmallows have not fully dissolved in the cocoa” look (creamy-colored blotches on the back and coverts). The flight feathers, however, are about a year old and a distinctly faded brown, bleached by the sun, wind and rain. Buzz has dark brown eyes and Ruby has YELLOW eyes (rare for an adult). Ruby is more heavily marked on the breast and belly. I regularly see people misidentify Buzz as Ruby, apparently going solely on very subjective plumage characteristics. Buzz also has a band on his left leg. Ruby does not. Ruby is noticeably bigger than Buzz; a judgment call, but when you start observing them closely you can often differentiate them even in flight.

The kids are a flat gray brown with light eyes. They have the mottled backs, but not the two-toned effect from fading colors. They are much more uniform in appearance (though mottled). Their tails have thin dark grayish brown bands on a lighter grayish brown background, except for Larry who has a very unusual tail (in my experience) with only a few incomplete bands in the tail. It looks almost solid grayish brown. Note how, when perched, the tails of the juveniles extend well beyond the wingtips. Their tails are longer than those of Mom and Dad.

Lucy is just HUGE, something she is acutely aware of every time she tries to land in a tree. (Not pretty, yet) She has by far the heaviest, thickest, streaked belly band of the kids. Larry is smaller, and best identified by the tail, and for the nonce his strong flight and dexterity in landing. (He actually knows what he is doing now, ten days after first flight.) Currently, Lucky is the smallest, and has whitish eyebrows (down feathers), and his head feathers are less fully developed, so he looks more chicken-headed. Larry has had the buffier breast. Lucky’s breast has been lighter than Larry’s, but the buffy color is fading with each passing day. Larry has a heavier belly band with thicker, heavier streaks than Lucky does. Also, Larry flies and especially lands with greater skill and confidence than Lucky, who has been out of the nest only three days, but that, too, is changing daily.

Young Redtails are very naïve about everything, and that increases their risks and mortality rates. They are also like sponges, absorbing knowledge from every experience. People will likely see them with more frequency in a few days, as their flight skills develop and they range more widely. The story is not over, not by a long shot.

Remember to respect private property and to give the birds space to succeed.

Best,

Paul

Tue 6/08/10 11:38 PM from Paul Roberts

For anyone trying to differentiate Larry from Lucky, there are several good clues:

1. Larry has a buffier breast than Lucky. However, that buffiness fades pretty quickly so cannot be used too long.
2. Larry has a very distinctive tail. It looks almost solid mottled grayish-brown, very atypical for a juvenile Redtail, with a few faint, thin, partial darker brown bands. Lucky has a very typical tail, like Lucy does. The tail is light grayish brown with a uniform series of narrow darker brown bands. Easiest way to tell them apart.
3. Lucky still has whitish (down) eyebrows, and thinner feathering on his head. They are not fully grown in, so he looks a little more “chicken-headed” than Larry, and definitely more so than Lucy.

This evening I was getting an update on Peregrine Falcons fledging around the eastern Massachusetts area. The young Peregrines are getting themselves in trouble too, missing landings, falling down into areas difficult for a befuddled youngster to fly out of. Friends rescued one big female chick that had crashed landed off a ledge into a small fenced in area, littered with glass. They were able to approach, “blanket” the bird, and carry it back up in the building to the nest ledge.

Larry, Lucky and Lucy can still get themselves into a lot of trouble, like Lucky sitting on top of a car that should be moving. They are especially vulnerable to flying low into a car, or crash landing on the ground where they are vulnerable to dogs and cars. If you find one stupefied by a bad landing or a moderate crash into a building and unable to protect itself or take off, put a blanket or jacket over it, shelter it and briefly protect it from threats on the ground or lift it up carefully and try to help it perch in a tree. Also be careful, we never know when Buzz or Ruby might dive bomb something they see as threatening their offspring. That is not typical behavior for Redtails, but not unheard of.

When observing the birds, try to not get too close. Keep a distance between the birds and you. We don’t want them to become totally unafraid of humans, who are one of their greatest threats. Juveniles need to develop a healthy distrust of humans. If they “come to you” okay, but please don’t “pursue”, encircle, or otherwise harass the hawks.

These three young hawks are lucky to have sop many sharp-eyed people looking after their welfare.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks for the detailed update Paul, and thanks to everyone that has been providing updates here and via email. I have not had time to visit the site, but may do so some morning or evening.

Ernie - I have been enjoying your videos.

Claudia

Submitted by Anonymous on

At 4pm I went by Alewife after doing some work. No site of Lucky who I worry about the most being so close to the busy traffic as well as the off leash dogs at Fresh Pond, but maybe that will make him wiser. The same woman I met yesterday, Katherine, told me she saw him at noon time on the roof. I did however see at the back corner of the roof of 185 Alewife I believe was Ruby eating {saw no band} and Lucy{very,very chubby juvenile}sitting nest to her also eating. Lucy occationally glanced at Ruby. I was alone so the employees taking a break did not seem to mind. I was glad to see Lucy, I had not seen her since she left the nest. Maybe dad is with the boys. I also am weaning away. Once I see them fly with confidence and strenght I will start to relax. If that is possible! Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thursday, June 10th, 5:30 to 6pm
antenna on building behind CVS

Buzz was sitting far to one side - a very animated and vocal house finch was sitting on the other side. For the most part Buzz seemed to be ignoring the finch - every once in a while he would turn his head towards the little bird. Didn't see any other family members around.
-- Nancy

Submitted by Anonymous on

June 11th 12:30am. Went to Alewife after doing some work. Looked at the usual spots were there had been regular sightings. Not a sign of hawks. Even the other birds in the area were calm. I guess early in the morning would be the best time to meet them again. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

June 11th 6pm. I am headed down to Alewife with my dog to walk around the Fresh Pond Reservior If anyone spots one of the hawks, feel free to call me on my cell. Hildy {617-519-3755}

Submitted by Anonymous on

what a wonderful post from Paul...thankyou. From my car on Thursday at 2pm saw a big hawk on top of the brick building next to the hotel. I'm not able to tell wich one....
Thankyou for all the updates!!!
Big hawk fan LP

Submitted by Anonymous on

Joined a small group of five around 7:30pm. I saw an adult on the back of the roof of 185 as well as on the CVS sign eating. Couldn't tell if it was the same or different one from the roof or which adult. I also saw Lucy{big girl} on a tree across Concord Ave., part of Fresh Pond across from the Shell station. Glad to see the birds as well as the birders. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yesterday evening two of the birders said they also recently saw Lucky as well as and adult and Lucy. He was seen on the back end roof of 185 next to Lucy, as well as on the CVS sign. I encouraged them to post this so anyone wondering about their whereabouts could know. Especially Lucky who was alone over traffic and a dog park. I am feeling a bit more relaxed knowing he has been back on the safer side with his sibs. Hildy

Paul Robers Report: 06/12/10 10:00 AM

So far, so good. We at least two chicks this morning and possibly three. We saw Lucky, who flew well but found walking the top of a pointed picket fence a challenge, which he ably met. (As we all know from the past 60 days, life is full of learning opportunities.) Lucy was perched on a building and flew into a young pine tree, where the bough was too frail to hold her hulk conveniently. She landed awkwardly and took off quickly. We thought we also might have seen Larry, but that might have been Lucky just changing perches.

Buzz landed on the weathervane briefly and an hour later flew from the direction of Alewife reservation over the tracks and onto the pinnacle of 185 Alewife, where he perched for a few minutes before soaring up and then flying west over the medical building on Concord Ave.

We didn’t hear any begging calls or see any feeding, so presume the birds were fed well before 6:00 a.m. (Also didn’t see them napping or resting, which often happens shortly after feeding.) As I said, the young looked like they knew how to fly, but the landings still held a few challenges for them. It is an exciting time for them. Everything is new. Within the next week or so, Larry should be hunting on his own, hopefully with some success, if he isn’t doing so already. I think it may be somewhat longer for Lucy, who is such a hulk that she might have a difficult time with small, quick prey. Hopefully she will find some beetles or grasshoppers that are easy to capture on the ground, but she will probably be looking for squirrels, rabbits, or maybe a young elephant. She is BIG. Keep an eye open in Whole Foods. We know that Lucy knows how to land on a Whole Foods shopping cart. With her size, she may simply find it easier to grab a take-out meal there!

Best,

Paul

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey Everyone,

These updates are so valuable, please keep on posting!

Ernie suggested that we use this blog to post ideas about getting together some time, and so Hildy and I want to propose that we have a pot luck at Danehy Park (behind Whole Foods). If you're interested in this idea please email me at aikidocats@hotmail.com.

Thanks, and see you all at the shopping center.

Amy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dear Paul and hawk watchers,

I wanted to thank you all for all your insightful information and friendship.I have learned so much! I wanted to let you all know that Lucky has been hanging around my place on Wheeler Street. I spotted him around 5:45p.m. on top of an electric poll outside my window.He looked like a drenched rat.He soon flew to a huge tree across the street.He is now, I think , on top of my building hoping for food from Ruby or Buzz.He is very small in comparison to Lucy!! I will let you all know If I see any other sightings.Thanks again Paul and
fellow watchers!
Sarah(condo)Diehl

Susan Moses: Friday 6/11/10

It is around 7 PM and there are no people around (at least none of the gang), but there are hawks aplenty! And let me tell you, it is quite a challenge for one person on foot to keep track of 5 hawks on the wing! Seems to be a lot of flying around this evening.

I arrived to find Lucky and Lucy on the back roof of 185. Lucy was facing the power station and Lucky was facing the other way. They were about 15 inches apart. Buzz was perched on the diagonal far corner (where he likes to hang out). Lucy flew out and returned to the front corner of the building; Lucky was still in the back and began to cry out. He eventually started waddling along the roof edge. I ducked in Trader Joes and when I came out, no one was around--but then I did see someone atop the satellite dish on the building past the condos (way too far to see who it was). I'm assuming it was Ruby since she used to sit there (but it could have been Larry since he seems to be following in her footsteps).

Amy, Hildy, and Ted arrived. We walked to the back of 185 and one of the adults flew to the back corner of 185. I think it might have been Ruby, but I'm not 100% sure (bad light, aging eyes, and not the best binocs).

We walked around to the CVS sign to find Lucy having a meal. Buzz then flew by and headed across the street to the corner of the red brick building nearest the Best Western. After a little bit, he flew off toward the east.

In the meantime, Lucy took off and landed in a tree around Fresh Pond.

Until tomorrow...

-Susan

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi folks,
We need to think of a name for our group. So far I've heard "virgin hawkers" and "Alewife bird watchers". Any more suggestions? Bring some ideas when we all meet for out "get together". A pot luck at Danehy Park sounds like a great idea. Which weekend would work the best? Hildy

If it's the weekend, Saturdays,early, are very busy for most people but maybe 4:30 PM or so as it's cooler and the errands are done. If Sunday, after church and hangovers around 1 PM may work and it's time for lunch anyway or again at the end of the day so people can do their Sunday day trips and its cooler. Wouldn't it be nice if Lucky came for some scraps :-)

Questions from Hawk Watcher, Lynn Sahaida, re: Buzz & Ruby after this breeding season is over. Ernie gives partial answer and Paul Roberts clarifies. (06/12/10)

Lynn: Question that just occurred to me- Do they mate for life or will they each find a new mate next year?

Ernie: They mate for life but if a partner does not show up after the fall "sabbatical", they will find another partner. In the case of NYC Pale Male (see www.palemale.com) "First Love", Pale Male's first mate, smashed into a building and was sent to New Jersey for rehab, tagged, and released there. The next spring Pale Male was with a different looking tagged female that sadly was not First Love. A few years later, that mate was killed over the winter on the NJ turnpike. Out of the blue, First Love showed up and re-united with Pale Male. This is a true story and book called, "Red-tails in Love" by Marie Winn. Great birders book and true.

Lynn: Re- your description of a sabbatical. This means they split up after the chicks can survive without the help of the parents? During the non-breeding season each adult is on their own, then they reunite in spring to breed again?

Ernie: Yes, they usually split up and reunite. We don’t know if this couple will leave the area, but they often do. Remember, They were together this year Feb 12 and before (one report says December), so they may not wait until spring as they may want to get the nest in shape and perform their courtship maneuvers (which I missed, high flying and meeting in mid air. Buzz giving gifts to Ruby and a 5 second or so consummation on solid ground or nest.) I hope to see that some day.

Lynn: I spotted the nest mid April, when the chicks first chicks hatched. If you know they were a pair by the middle of February that means it took them 2 months to build the nest and keep the eggs warm til the chicks emerged? That's a long time to keep the eggs warm.

Ernie: Up until March 7, there were nest exchanges where one would come in and the other would leave but many times both would leave for long periods, so I assumed there were no eggs or they would have frozen. On March 7th, Ruby failed trying to get a green branch up to the nest. She bounced off the building, lost altitude, glided across Alewife Parkway and landed in the tree behind me near the Fresh Pond Mall sign (I have it all on tape). Then Buzz came into the same tree. Ruby left the leafy branch on the tree limb and flew up to the nest. Buzz hopped down and picked it up. He then flew up to the nest and dropped it in. Ruby organized it. After that time, any time I observed the nest (probably from March 10 on), there was always someone sitting and the nest exchanges were very quick with the sitter flying off and the other hunkering down right away. Since it takes 28 - 35 days for eggs to hatch (with a day or two between each egg), it makes sense that the eggs were laid soon after March 7 as I have photographic proof on April 14 that there were 2 very small hatchlings and one unhatched egg. There obviously can be a long period of fussing with the nest before it's close enough to spring to actually "get down to business". Having said all that, there could have been an early dropping of eggs that was unsuccessful and leading to the second and successful hatching. I hope that clarifies things for you.
Lynn: Your mention of the courtship ritual- do they join talons and descend in mid air? I watch a lot of nature programs, so I don't remember which one featured this aerial ballet. But the 2 birds clamped onto each other's talons in mid air, and then spiraled down together. It was an awesome sight.

Ernie: The courtship could have looked as you described, but the spiraling and talon interlocking doesn't always happen. I copied this to Paul Roberts as I'm not sure I told him that detail and he can put his thoughts to this process.

Paul Roberts: Hi Lynn,

The courtship you described is not typical Red-tailed Hawk behavior. Much of the technical literature and many popular books refer to sky diving and talon locking for Red-tailed Hawks, but research has shown that those reports are based on only a few examples and are not typical. The sky-diving, talon locking and tumbling is more typical of Bald Eagles and often shown on television because it is so dramatic.

Quoting from the Birds of North America account on Red-tailed Hawk, “Pre-nesting displays typically consist of both birds soaring in wide circles at high altitudes and the male performing maneuvers similar to the Sky-dance. After several series of dives and ascents, the male slowly approaches the female from above, extends his legs and touches or grasps her momentarily (Conner 1974). Frequently, both birds dangle their legs during aerial maneuvers.”

Buzz and Ruby engaged in such behavior, and dual “kiting” into the wind, after their chicks started fledging. Courtship flight often begins in January and February on sunny, windy days that get the hormones flowing. I was watching a pair in Medford that has apparently nested together for 5-6 years, and did not see them sky-dance together once this year. Basically, he would bring her a pigeon or squirrel, or a stick for the nest, and they would copulate, though it is not always that simple.

We don’t know for sure if Buzz and Ruby are year-round residents, but they will be closely followed this fall and winter. Many Red-tails in the city are year-round; they don’t migrate and they visit and often add to the nest during all the months of the year, but especially in December, January, and February. Historically, they used to lay in late March, but that date has been moving up, especially for coastal city birds. March 7 or 8th is early, but not unheard of. Perhaps Ruby had trouble with the stick that Ernie cited because she was forming her first egg?

Reports indicate that a pair of Red-tailed Hawks attempted to build a nest on the ledge at 185 Alewife in February 2009, but that nest disappeared about three weeks in for unknown reasons (storm? management removal? Don’t know.) There are anecdotal reports that a pair attempted to nest on the roof of 185 last year but failed. That might refer to the nest I just described, or they might have attempted to build a second nest on the flat roof but it was too little too late and they failed. Whatever, Ruby was one of the birds last year, based on photographs, and I assume her mate was Buzz, but do not have proof.

Buzz and Ruby were seen in courtship flight on February 13, 2010, and had their nest partially complete by that time. Less than a month later, the nest was done and they were incubating.

Hope that answers your questions.

Best,

Paul

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

The "get togethers" would be on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, of couse not too early. I am asking which people prefer, a Saturday or Sunday this time, and a date or should Amy and I decide? Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

I stopped by for about 10 minutes this morning and didn't see any of the family on their usual perches, but I did see one of them on the Abt Associates property. Whoever it was was quite far away, just doing a quick fly from the parking lot up into the trees on the edge of the parking lot, by the power plant. Amy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi all,

I am traveling this week and missing the alewife hawks. But before I left, I got a good look at the other young family of hawks at Harvard. The nest is on a tree just outside the Pierce Hall Lab building. If you cross the street from the Hoffman lab bulding at 20 Oxford street, the second tree on your right, just before the corner of Pierce lab, has the nest on one of the high branches. It is easy to spot and the nest is much closer to the ground compared to Buzz and Ruby's nest at 185 Alewife. But it is hard to take pictures from the ground, and much harder from the street. When I saw the nest on June 10th, I could see three hawks- their tails sticking out. I do not know how old the chicks are. Here is a blog on these hawks:

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/hollyh/

I also heard of yet another family of hawks, about one mile away from 185 Alewife, towards Harvard Square. This nest is supposed to be somewhere in the Harvard Observatory campus (at 60 Garden Street), or very near the observatory. I have seen the parents perched on the golden cross of St. Peter's church on Concord Ave. (Right near my office at 160 Concord Ave!). These hawks visit the cross quite often. I have taken photos of them at various times during last week. I found this blog entry via google. I will continue searching for the nest after I return to Cambridge next week.

http://centersandsquares.com/2010/06/01/hawks-in-high-places/

Finally, I would like to inform everyone of a lecture at the Harvard Museum of Natural History:
Birdology: From Hens to Hummingbirds - by Sy Montgomery. Thursday, June 17, 7:30pm.
"In her new book, Birdology, award-winning wildlife author Sy Montgomery explores questions such as: Do hawks show emotion, like anger, sympathy and frustration? Are birds actually living dinosaurs? Is there a secret emotional life to birds that we are only beginning to discover? Montgomery will explore these intriguing questions and others. Free with museum admission. Part of Summer Nights at the Museum."

http://www.hmnh.harvard.edu/lectures_and_special_events/index.php

Thank you all for your reports on the hawk sightings. And special thanks to Paul Roberts for his very informative report.

Best wishes,
Nimesh Patel

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just watched Ruby as she sat in the nest (!) from 6:00-6:45 tonight. She was certainly on the lookout but I could not see what she was looking at. No sign of anyone else around the place.

Thanks to John Harrison for that amazing article--I love it AND the photos, too!

Amy

Submitted by Anonymous on

The lecture sounds great. Anyone want to join me? Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

I posted something earlier today, saw it on the blog, then it dissappeared. Strange. I posted that I saw Lucky around 3:30 on a medium branch in a pine tree behind CVS. I came too close, even though I did keep a distance, causing him to fly to a low roof nearby. I was thrilled to see him. You can't mistake that chicken head along with those white feathers. He is still rather gaucky in his appearance and posture. Hope he is learning well. I decided to give him privacy since I already caused him to leave the tree. I am an admitted "hawk stalker". That would be a good name for our group. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Leika and I moseyed around between 4 and 6pm hoping to catch a sighting. We spotted an adult very,very high up flying across the parkway, too high up to identify. We also saw either Lucy or Ruby, a large female, leave a tree on Concord Ave. near Fresh Pond and fly over toward the roofs a couple of streets up from the Shell Station. She flew by too quickly for us to identify. We are plannimg on attending the lecture at The Museum of Natural History and looking forward to it. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi All,

Leika and I spent a few hours early today and all is well with the Alewife "kids". We were in the ABT "sanctuary" around 6:00 am. Lucy was sitting on a lamppost, looking stunning with her dark belly bands, being slightly harassed by a female goldfinch.
Lucky was in the pine, where Larry has been seen roosting.[and possibly where all the juveniles now hunker down at night] He was quiet- just preening in the sun.
Leika had seen Larry earlier, sitting atop the fence near the pool, and then he flew off in a northeast direction. Lucky and Lucy were very quiet- perhaps they needed their morning "vole"- and they both flew south towards the trees at Fresh Pond.
We circled around and never did see Buzz or Ruby and no action at the feeding pole. We are wondering if perhaps B and R have changed feeding locations, especially since Larry may be trying for kill on his own.
What a fabulous way to start the day!
Lynda

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lynda,
Thanks for that update. I would really like to see the "kids" hunt successfully on their own knowing that is the next big hurdle. I just need to have faith. Hildy

PHAWK Report: 06/15/10 11:20 AM

Larry fledged two weeks ago yesterday. Lucky one week ago Sunday, and Lucy a week ago yesterday. The nest has been empty for a week! I’m happy to report that all have survived their first week out in the cold, cruel, world (knock on wood). That is an accomplishment in itself. All three kids were seen healthy ... And quiet.. this morning by Lynda and Leika.

The kids are changing in many ways. On Saturday, Susan Moses saw Larry, Lucky, and Buzz on telephone poles behind Trader Joe’s. Buzz then flew off and Larry joined Lucky on a pole, where they both called, obviously hungry. Buzz returned to an empty pole with food, where Dad was joined by the two boys. Larry got to the post first, and got the food. Buzz then flew off the to the CVS sign and observed while Larry sat on the food and Lucky looked on hungrily. Apparently the food was not properly prepared to Larry’s liking, but after staring down at the carcass for a while, he started pecking at it, then eating. Larry ate it all. Lucky, getting nary a bite, sat on the very same post screaming, but it was not clear if he was screaming at Larry for not sharing, or at Buzz, for not bringing him food...or both. (By the way, Hildy reports that she can clearly identify Lucky by his vociferous vocalizations. Several days ago she was walking along the parkway where Lucky had been spending much of the day on the large reddish-brown office building next to the Best Western, and heard Lucky’s plaintive vocalizations being repeated by a Mockingbird! Can poor Buzz tell the difference?)

Buzz returned to the area with food, landing on a vacant pole. Larry, apparently sated, was already gone, but Lucky flew to Buzz’s pole, grabbing the food and pushing an understanding Buzz out of the way. Quoting Susan, “So imagine my surprise to hear Lucky still screaming. He stared at the food (which I think was a chipmunk), and tried to pull on it, but he didn't know how to "get it open." He just kept screaming for awhile and then finally just sat down on top of it! Unbelievable. He would cry now and then and Buzz just stopped by and landed on the other pole, but didn't go help him, and then he (Buzz) flew away. ”Lucky was still crying, staring at the food, in need of assistance. He finally began to peck at it and tried to rip pieces off, but wasn't having much luck. But, hunger must have gotten the better of him since he kept trying and eventually won the battle! He's still having trouble, but it looks as if he is getting some good chunks. I guess that's how they have to learn. Buzz and Ruby know what they're doing. Pampering the kids does not help them survive on their own.” Later Lucky dropped the remains of the prey to the ground and just stared at it. Buzz brought in more food to another pole and Lucky flew over and took the prey, while Buzz flew off once again.

On Sunday I observed from the overpass in the morning. I didn’t see the kids at all, feeding, perching high, whatever, but Buzz and Ruby were clearly keeping an eye on them. Buzz flew in from near the railroad tracks and landed in a tall spruce, revealing a hidden Ruby. Buzz landed high in the tree, and Ruby moved up to join him, but she was so heavy that the branch on which she attempted to alight bent beneath her, dropping her down a level, where there was an instant replay. The second branch couldn’t hold her either, and she had a soft landing onto a branch several feet down from Buzz. Shades of Lucy, who is even bigger! Both parents were touching as they sat there, very alert, watching activity on both sides beneath them. (They were not in the common pose that looks like they are bored and nodding off.) Buzz flew off near the tracks again, watching something beneath the canopy. I assume it was one or more of the kids learning to fly beneath the radar.

On Monday, I saw Lucy resting on private property, and then flying off, and Larry was on one of the telephone poles behind Trader Joe’s. The key event was that after coming onto the pole, looking for food, he got NADA, nothing. (In fact, he flipped the paltry remains of earlier prey off the pole. No scraps, puhleeze!) But Sarah and I were pleased as punch when Larry blasted off the pole in pursuit of a Mourning Dove, the first time we’ve heard or seen anything about any of the kids pursuing live avian or mammalian prey (excluding spruce cones). He pursued the dove between thick trees, so we could not see if he was successful or not. But he landed on a rooftop shrouded by trees, prompting someone in the building to walk out onto the roof to look, and flushing Larry. I doubt that he was successful, but actually pursuing prey in flight after two weeks out of the nest was a great sign.

Today, all three kids were seen on private property, suggesting they have been roosting close enough to each other to be aware of each other’s presence, even when they are not pleading for food. Lynda and Leika reported that Lucy and Lucky flew of towards the trees of Fresh Pond Reservation, the first evidence we have of Lucy venturing into the reservation. The kids really are growing up.

Some may think even a little anthropomorphism is inappropriate, inaccurate, or can be excessive in recording wildlife observations. We know that some, perhaps most, people impose their value systems on what they observe. I may be guilty of this. I have observed multiple raptor nestings and have been impressed by investment the parents make in the entire reproductive process, and their concern for their young. Clearly, most of it is instinctual, but there are individual differences in how birds act and respond. I’ll never forget the male Osprey holding an enormous fish in his talons for most of the day, waiting to feed it to the last surviving chick in the nest, almost ready to fledge. But the chick had not survived, and would never eat that fish. That male Osprey was clearly in shock and mourning, trying to fathom what had happened.

The Alewife Redtails have provided a truly rare opportunity for many people to observe nest building, courtship, incubation, and the growth of three very distinctive chicks. We’ve had the chance to observe that birds do have different personalities, and behave differently. We’ve had a chance to see how birds behave instinctually, and how they learn... How parents help (the kids would say “force”) the young to learn, and to become independent.

I am so impressed by Buzz, by what a provider he has been to his mate and his young. He has been providing adequate food for FIVE Red-tailed Hawks for almost two months. Enough so that the third chick, the late “love child”, the runt, had been able to survive. This past week, and perhaps the next, are probably the most challenging of the year, and perhaps his life, as he is now feeding five LARGE, mobile, active Red-tailed Hawks. He has been absolutely incredible.

I had my doubts about Ruby at the beginning, when the chicks were hatched. Buzz and Ruby had different food delivery strategies and tactics than I had seen previously with Redtails. As the chicks grew, my doubts were erased, especially on the hottest day of the year when the three chicks were broiling on that ledge in full sunlight in 95 degree heat. (About 20 observers were broiling as well, but they could go to Whole Foods or McDonalds for cooling refreshment.) The three chicks huddled against the windows of the atrium, trying to find the shade they had lost, and perhaps the insulated glass was cooler. Remember, these chicks are not able to drink or sweat to cool down. Ruby flew in as the last vestiges of shade were devoured by the relentlessly moving sun and stood there, spreading her wings high over her chicks, shading them for a protracted period of time. Wow.

Buzz goes back occasionally and sits on the peak of the atrium, above the nest. Ruby has gone back at least once and spent 45 minutes in the nest. Nostalgia? In one of the tenderest moments of the season, after the young had fledged, Buzz brought prey to Ruby — for Ruby -- on a telephone pole. It was clearly a special moment for both. They sat there together somewhat awkwardly on the small pole, and then Ruby began to eat as Buzz flew off. Once Buzz was gone, Larry rocketed out of the trees onto the pole his father had just vacated. He started grabbing at the prey his mother was eating, literally trying to take it out of her talons. Ruby continued to eat for a little while, as Larry screamed. Mom then lifted off, leaving half the prey for her second oldest chick. Shades of Mrs. Cleaver....

The day that Lucky helicoptered into a strong, gusty wind and found himself blown skyward and backward onto the roof, Buzz and Ruby went soaring in tandem over the railroad tracks and the apartment buildings. Amazing people who had never seen it before, they “kited” together into the stiff winds, standing still in the air next to each other like two kites on the end of one string. Buzz then soared over Ruby, and stooped down, fully extending his legs and talons above his mate. I couldn’t hear any calling in that wind, but it had to be there. They were clearly reaffirming the bonds that had gotten them through this long, challenging period, and I can’t help but believe they were celebrating their kids’ accomplishments. You are not really a Red-tailed Hawk until you fly.

The bonds between siblings should loosen over the next few weeks. Perhaps Larry will actually begin catching his own prey, and Lucy and Lucky start pursuing their own. Exploring Fresh Pond is part of that. Few if any people might see those milestones, or know what they are seeing, but sometime soon observers should start seeing immature Red-tailed Hawks soaring over Alewife Brook Parkway. (You’ll see thin, dark brown bands on a lighter brown tail, and heavier dark streaking on the more obvious belly bands of the kids.) That will mark the end of another, major chapter in the lives of the Red-tailed Hawks of Alewife Brook Parkway. The world at large awaits them.

Best,

Paul

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Leika: 06/16/10

Below is a report on some interesting learning behavior Lucy exhibited including "climing a fense"! Here is a quick link to Leika's photo slide show with captions:

http://web.me.com/lnpnmobileme1/RedTail/My_Albums/My_Albums.html

Hi Everyone,

As per Amy's report this morning was a beginning of quite an eventful day especially for Lucy. Lucy is now having her own
"pine cone" lesson with real prey as Buzz watched over her with
love and pride. Here is the rest of the report of what had happened after Lucy ate her meal.
After Lucy finished her meal she flew up onto the wire looking very sated and proud of her
new accomplishment. She left the half eaten carcass on the ground, as she had
yet to figure out how to fly with prey in hands (talons).
While Varsha, Amy and I were having our "so proud of our
hawk daughter" moment, we met a pest control guy, John Malis, who also
took an interest as to what was happening. As soon as we pointed to the
carcass that Lucy left behind he wanted to take care of it right away (him being the pest control guy and all),
but Amy convinced him to come back in an hour
in case somebody else might come back for the for the left over later. He agreed and left.
Fast forward one hour later he came back and took the carcass away since no other
hawks came to claim it. THEN! After a while Sarah (Varsha and Amy had left by this point and now I was joined by
Sarah) and I saw Buzz came back to the exact spot where an hour ago Lucy had her breakfast.
He had come back looking for Lucy's left over!
Buzz hung out there cocking his head trying to figure out where the left over went. He knew that Lucy was not yet able to
fly with it so he assumed the left over would still be there.
He walked around the area over and over staring at the spot where the carcass was until a passerby shewed him away onto
a nearby roof then flew away. Amazing. I just wonder what he would have done with the left over had he come
back before the 'breakfast table' was cleared..... we will never know.
I think we were all so heartened to see Lucy being challenged by this next stage in her development while Buzz
stayed firmly in the background ever so careful not to invade her learning opportunities. What a great moment.
Later Lucky came by the feeding pole to see if anything was left for him.
Slim pickings.... he had missed the breakfast bell entirely. That was SO Lucky.

On another note:
I have created a little Alewife redtail family website. Please find the pictures from today's events at this
url:

http://web.me.com/lnpnmobileme1/RedTail/My_Albums/My_Albums.html

I will be adding more pages as I go along.
I will let you know when there is a new page added.
I have also blurred some of the more graffic parts out so
people won't get grossed out if they are having lunch or something.
It will look like Court TV where the witness' face is blurred, but you will still get the idea.

Happy Hawking,

Leika

PHAWK Report: 06/17/10 1 PM

I’ve heard and expressed considerable respect for Buzz and Ruby and how they have worked and raised three young this year. Larry stole the headlines by fledging first, and surviving challenges from buildings, highways, and cars. Lucy won the admiration of many for staying in the nest until Lucky had fledged. Lucky, that little rascal, however, has won the hearts of so many women. It’s obvious when you hear them talk about him.

Today, early, Leika had Lucy on the condos, calling rather softly, and Larry, who flew towards the trees of Fresh Pond. Then no hawks for over an hour. Two Black-crowned Night Herons flew over, but it was quiet until an employee from CVS or Trader Joe’s walked out back briefly and asked, “Is that a hawk?” Lucky had snuck in from the north or east, shielded from our view by trees, but obvious from the employee’s position and relatively close in the electric substation. He sat there. And sat there. And sat there. A chorus of House Sparrows sat on the same fence, chastising this poor, hungry waif who had never taken a House Sparrow from a nest – though he might have eaten a few when delivered to him. Lucky preened now and then, but he was only 20 yards from the feeding pole. We all knew what he was doing.

Buzz did too! We didn’t see Buzz or Ruby. No “Pea Pod” deliveries to the feeding pole. Frustrated, Lucky flew over to the feeding pole and other poles in the neighborhood, obviously just waiting around for the “mouse sandwich” truck to fly in. No luck, however. Suddenly, a hawk swooped in to the feeding pole. Buzz with a McMouse Muffin from the other side of Alewife Brook? No. In fact, it wasn’t Buzz at all. It was Larry, looking for that easy breakfast as well. After a relatively short time, Larry flew off to the north. Lucky then flew down towards Concord behind the CVS and sat in the trees and on a post. He was calm, relaxed, and quiet, but waiting. While perched, he coughed up a casting, or pellet, a small mass of indigestible materials he had swallowed while eating. In this case, without benefit of dissection, it looked to be predominantly mouse fur.

Lucky hopped from branch to branch, and then onto a utility wire, where he had some difficulty balancing himself in the breeze. He shuffled his feet along the wire, the way a non-acrobat would shuffle along a high board between two tall buildings – always sensitive to the threat of falling off. He didn’t win any points for confidence. He then flew across the street, landing on the edge of the Abt building. Suddenly, we saw Lucky flying ass backwards again, facing north but flying south! Shades of his very first flight! He had landed on the solar water heating panels - which are smooth- on the steeply angled Abt roof. His talons couldn’t get a grip on the glassy surface as he flailed at the air. Lucky began “ice-skating” backwards down the roof! He skated back down onto some shingles, where he was finally able to get some traction and rest. After a few minutes of obviously deep thought, at least deep for a hawk less than eight weeks old, he tried skating up the roof again to no avail, sliding back to the shingles, and ultimately flying to a safer, easier pole. An intense learning experience.

Meanwhile, Sarah heard a call down near the pond, and found Buzz sitting high in a tree on Concord Avenue with a Blue Jay in his talons. We expected a swift delivery to the feeding pole, but we were wrong. Buzz took the “Great Circle” route behind the condos, out of Lucky’s view and ours, apparently going onto private property to feed Larry, or possibly Lucy, but not the hawk that now was not living up to his name.

He had been sitting near the feeding pole for over two hours without any success when I left. As if to stimulate some Pavlovian response in Buzz, Lucky flew to the feeding pole itself and just sat there, alone and without food as I drove away.

Best,

Paul

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi All,

This early morning , there were no sightings of any of the family behind ABT, so Leika and I took a quick swing through Fresh Pond with no luck there either. We came back to find Paul watching Lucky, in the feeding pole vicinity. Lucky may have been waiting for breakfast, but soon flew to the TD Bank roof.[He must know about the special on free checking accounts] He then flew toward Fresh Pond.

We went back to the feeding pole area and saw Larry sitting atop a telephone pole- looking so handsome. Although there was a deceased robin on the ground nearby, he took no interest. Paul said it wouldn't be typical for a hawk to eat a bird that's been dead for awhile [it had dew on it] unless it was extremely hungry- perhaps in winter.
Larry eventually flew off toward Fresh Pond, and it may not be much longer before the feeding pole becomes a thing of the past.

Happy hawk watching,
Lynda

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi folks,
Saw several hawks this evening between 7:15 and 8:30. Unfortunally for me, I couldn't properly identify them. Either they are maturing and changing their appearance so quickly or I may of seen another hawk family living on Concord Ave., according to Sarah.
The first sighting was with two other regulars. We heard and saw a juvenile crying in a tree in ABT parking lot. We didn't know if it was Larry or Lucy. Soon after, another hawk, who we couldn't identify, landed on a branch close by. The crying juvenile and the other hawk flew over the buildings towards the west. As I was walking up Concord Ave., I saw three guys staring at a telephone pole at the end of a street off of Concord Ave. Hoping they were hawks, which they were, I joined them, thrilled to see two juveniles. I couldn't identify them accept I knew they were juveniles because of the brassy chests. The larger one was eating contently on middle of the pole while the smaller one sat on the end of the pole whinning. The bigger one would not share. After the bigger one finished it's meal, the smaller one slithered over closer and closer. The bigger one ignored it. Finally the smaller bird started picking at the bigger bird. Picking it's head and wings, even causing it to loose it's balance. The bigger bird didn't seem to care, no reaction, but eventually flew back toward the ABT lot. The smaller bird sat there for a while, looking around, then when I wasn't looking, flew away. I headed back to ABT parking lot to see if I could get one last peek, but was unsuccessful. However one my way home up Concord Ave., across from the Shell station, I spotted a hawk, hanging from an extended branch over Concord Ave., and the hawk was watching the traffic. Hold on tight! Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi folks,
A small group of birders were happy to see the three juveniles in a secluded part of ABT parking lot around 7:30AM. They were working on their new fledgling skills, still acting quite inexperienced and awkward. Lucy and Larry stayed in the same area, while Lucky was off, not to be seen most of the time. Lucy and than Larry stared at a squirrel through a fence, and Lucky carried around a small paper bag. Obviously they need much practice hunting. After a couple of hours, Larry cried which prompted an adult to eventually fly by. Glad to be able to see them, they are growing, even though Lucky looks more like a pigeon. Let's keep sending good energy to these guys to continue to learn and thrive. Since there was a very small group , the security did not seem to mind, especially on the weekends, but let's not start a large gathering there. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello All!
We have confirmed a time and place for our first gathering since our chicks have fledged!
Date: June 27th
Time: 4PM
Place: Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA
We will meet in the Danehy Park parking lot off of New St., which is just past the Fresh Pond Cinemas, behind Staples, bearing right onto New St., Danehy park and the parking lot are on the left. Directly behind the mall.
Bring food and drink for yourselves as well as enough to share!
Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments are concerns.
Looking forward to seeing you all again! Hildy {617-489-1771}
{617-519-3755}

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lucy, Larry and Lucky were spotted together this morning! They seemed to be practicing using their talons to pick up small rocks and hold on to them--maybe Paul will write about this and give some insights. We also observed Larry sitting in a tree monitoring the movements of a nearby bluejay with great interest!

Tonight I found all of them together again sitting on top of a pole on Fawcett Street. It was amazing to see; the two older ones would fly a little ways and then come back, Lucky stayed put. They seemed quite relaxed overall, although Lucky yelled a little for Buzz and Ruby. Unfortunately they didn't appear while I was there.

Amy

PHAWK Report: 06/20/10

There are days when you pinch yourself and ask just how lucky you can be. I’ve been looking at hawks for almost forty years and have seen a lot of incredible things, but this morning was unique and oh, so special. I was alone at first, and walked around looking for the juvenile Alewife Red-tailed Hawks and saw NADA – nothing - around 6 a.m. About 15 minutes later, an immature Red-tailed Hawk hawk flew out from a building masked by trees, landing in a tall spruce. It was not clear at first who it was, but it sat there preening in the rising sun’s early glow. I was joined by Nancy Given. We tried to determine if it was Lucy or not. It didn’t look as big as I recalled Lucy, but she was not slim. Her widest girth was amidships, signaling this was probably Lucy. Larry and Lucky are slimmer birds, who could not wear hiphuggers without embarrassing themselves.

After some minutes, Lucy flew to and perched in a large willow, where she began hopping sporadically from branch to branch, balancing herself with her wings the way a tightrope walker uses a balancing pole. She did not look very suave or sophisticated in weaving to and fro on the willow branches. She looked like she would have failed a sobriety test. We then saw a second immature, Lucky or Larry, flying in from the trees along another building. We were not sure who it was though we had a decent view of its tail. Larry’s tail pattern is diagnostic with only partial thin dark bands at best in the distal portion of the tail. But this immature bird had his tail folded so tightly we saw only one rectrice, with pretty clear tail bands. The eyebrows looked lighter, and two days earlier we had agreed that Larry had a rusty look to his eyebrows. We didn‘t realize it at this time, but later we saw that the mottling on Larry’s back is cream-colored, whereas Lucky’s mottling is much whiter. This was Lucky, who sat still facing away for some time while Lucy hopped around and ultimately dropped down out of the tree and out of sight beyond the western fence.

Then we saw Larry fly in, though we weren’t sure it was him at first. He came in, landed, and then took off towards the feeding pole, but stopped short in a heavily leafed tree, providing fantastic views as he sat low on an open branch. With his back to us, it was clear THIS was Larry, with the bottom three or four tails bands partial or missing, quite different from the tails of his siblings. Lucky, now absolutely confirmed, was still perched in the willow.

After 10-15 minutes, Larry flew across a parking lot, over to its far side where he had had a spruce cone training session with Ruby about a week earlier. He landed in a tree but parachuted down onto the ground and began running around, pecking various points on the ground as though feeding on insects, but he wasn’t actually eating anything. He gathered clumps of pine needles in his talons and pecked at them, as though they held some exciting flavor. Larry then attacked several desiccated leaves on a fallen branch, the brown leaves rustling in the fairly strong breeze. He captured them with his powerful, pointed beak, ripping them from their home and letting the captive “prey” flutter to the ground. He then resumed dancing around on the ground, jumping up and down and flapping his wings as though he were on an electric pogo stick. He was having fun, reminding us of the day his mother taught him how to capture a large insect or small rodent on the ground, using a dried spruce cone as faux prey. Suddenly, Larry struck and captured his first “live” prey that we had seen. He pounced on and locked one talon around a small, dark rock that looked like a piece of stray asphalt. He “fought” it, hopping around with it in one talon as the rock tried to get away. Obviously, this was play, but like a young child playing with a toy kitchen cooking set, it was a learning experience as well.

Lucy apparently thought otherwise. She dropped down out of the tree unexpectedly and started giving Larry grief. She chased him, fanning her wings and raising her hackles, trying to mantle the “prey” rock and take it from Larry. Several times the two squared off, face to face, wings spread, heads down and hackles up, the prey between them. They were playing, but this was serious play. Larry hopped around with the rock as though it was alive and trying to run away. Lucy pursued. Larry dropped the “mouse”, which turned back into a rock. Suddenly, I felt a swish of air against my left leg ( I was wearing shorts) and saw Lucky flying just a foot or two from me and less than two feet off the ground as he glided in to join his siblings, alighting in a lower branch above the feuding siblings. The three amigos were together again! Leika had joined us in time to witness and photograph all this, and Amy had arrived too. It was a special moment for all of us.

Lucy is large. On the ground, she was so much larger than her first brother that we questioned how we could ever mistake one for the other. Lucy used her larger size to capture a much larger rock than Larry had, in one enormous talon. (In fact, she stretched her talon over a fairly large stump low in the ground, and encircled it all.) She started hopping around, preventing the apparently live and writhing rock from escaping. She mantled it so we could not see what she was eating (or perhaps because she was embarrassed at someone watching her capture and apparently eat a ferocious rock.)

Lucy and Larry continued to play “hop, snatch, and mantle.” I walked back to my car to get a new memory card and battery, and came back to find Lucy “in jail.” Larry and Lucky were on our side of a chain link fence, huddled together, beaks pressed against the metal wires, looking at Lucy on the other side. It was like they were visiting her at the penitentiary. I was told Lucy had flown up into a tree and then parachuted down on the other side of the fence, but she apparently had a difficult time comprehending exactly what the fence was. She could see her brothers on the other side but couldn’t join them, and vice versa. They all looked totally perplexed. An iron curtain had descended between the three kids, separating the oldest from the rest. This reminded me of what Lynda had written the day before, when she had seen Lucy, and a shortly thereafter, Larry, fly and crash head first into a 10’ high chain link fence. They had bounced back and landed relatively softly, compared to what might have happened, but she was concerned. Could the hawks not SEE the fence? I speculated that they could see the fence, but they were focusing their attention on what they saw on the other side of the fence, so they didn’t process it properly. (In fact, several days earlier Lucy had climbed up a chain link fence six feet high to retrieve the half-eaten meal she had inadvertently dropped from her perch. The deceased mouse had fallen just on the other side of the fence, and Lucy was not sufficiently experienced to take off and land on the other side of the fence just a few feet away. Also, as we all know, all Boeing 747s need a fairly long runway to take off and land!)

It all seemed relatively comical, the prisoner pacing behind the bars and the visitors shuffling around, to and fro, contemplating how they could spring her. Suddenly, a hawk exploded out of the pine trees at our side and landed awkwardly in a deciduous tress to our rear left. A flash of red tail. Dark eyes. BUZZ! The first sighting of an adult, of a parent, in over 150 minutes. Buzz sat up in the tree, where he was harassed by a Blue Jay. Larry exploded from the prison’s visiting room towards Dad. Suddenly, I heard a hawk calling plaintively. I saw a Blue Jay buzzing Buzz and imitating a Red-tailed Hawk call, but it was more than that. I turned to get a better look, stepping back, and was surprised to see that the plaintive Red-tailed Hawk begging call was also coming from Lucky, who had swiftly and silently (unusual for Lucky) flown to the light casement just a few feet above our heads, where he had alighted unbeknownst to us but was now pleading somewhat pathetically for food. We looked up into the eyes of a very close, very hungry, Red-tailed Hawk. If we had been somewhat smaller, we might have identified with what a meadow vole thinks shortly before it dies.

What a greeting from his kids on Father’s Day. But Buzz had no food. In the background, I saw Lucy break jail. With her father’s appearance she got her wits about her and ran parallel to the fence, taking off and gaining altitude quickly, like a jet fighter on an aircraft carrier. She disappeared to the north, rising four or five feet along the fence before she climbed out of sight behind the large willows. She had to have wheeled rather tightly behind those trees, however, because the next thing I knew, she was literally screeching to a landing on the same light casement as brother Lucky. Trying to land on this small box, already occupied by the ex-runt, she had placed her back toe on the side of the box and her “forward” toes on the top, but this was unforgiving metal, so she lost a lot of points for her relatively graceless landing. She is BIG, and it takes a lot of time and experience to learn how to move that bulk gracefully. Lucy then joined the chorus of beggars.

All three hawks, with the occasional exception of Lucky, had been quiet all morning, but the arrival of Dad generated such pathetic pleading you would have thought the kids had not eaten in a week. Dad flew off to the weathervane. Larry pursued, followed by Lucky and Lucy, who landed briefly on an SUV before following her pater and her peers into the electric substation area, out of sight, as Buzz disappeared from the weathervane. We flushed one of the kids as we walked towards the feeding pole, but no one else was hanging around.

As we left at 9 a.m., an adult Red-tailed Hawk was soaring up over the substation, a grackle leaving footprints on its back. It had to be Dad. For Buzz, maybe this was a glorious morning because on Father’s Day (not officially celebrated in Red-tailed Hawk society to my knowledge) his chicks had survived two weeks, and in Larry’s case three weeks, out of the nest. But Buzz didn’t have time to enjoy any sense of satisfaction. He had to find food and somehow entice three different young Redtails to go TO the food, rather than take it to them. The teaching continued. It was clear these birds were still not feeding themselves with any regularity, if at all. Buzz still bore primary, perhaps sole, responsibility for feeding the three amigos. Around 10:30, Nancy returned and found Lucky on the feeding pole pleading to no one in particular for food. Perhaps Dad was near by again. It sounds like this next week will be a challenge for Buzz....

Best,

Paul

Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
phawk254@comcast.net

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nancy Givins: June 21 Mon 10 AM

I arrived at 6:45 - took a stroll around and didn't see any of the usual suspects in the usual places. I was on my way over to an adjacent street - when Leika drove in. She reported seeing Lucy earlier in the morning - she went back to take another look and I continued forth. On one of the poles towards the end of the street I spotted one of the kids - presumably Larry as it/he was tubular in body shape and QUIET. Went back to check with Leika - she had spotted another "kid" flying through the parking lot. We went back around the block to see that Lucky had joined Larry on the pole and needless to say was screaming (Leika did some recording - possibly a new phone ring!). Larry flew to a pole across the street. In the meantime I spotted one on them handicap railing entrance to a building across the street. A second flew in and landed on same railings.... Lucy and Larry. They look remarkably alike (when you can't see their tails) save for size. We had ample opportunity to see them side by side on the railings. We then spotted Hildy with a small group of workers from a nearby company (several of whom reported this was the first time they had seen them there - which makes sense if the hawks discovered this area over the weekend). Larry was climbing/crawling/hopping around on the ramp and railings and eventually flew off... then it became the Lucy show as she flapped about, investigated the bars on the railings - attempted to land on a slanted railing only to slide off (the stories Lucky could tell her) and then settled for hopping up the short staircase, stair by stair. Then a low flying sweep landing in the parking lot, joined by Larry. Larry hopped over to a grassy area very near where Leika was sitting (lots of photos) and then took off. Lucy remained posing for the camera. Lucky's shrieks seemed to be getting closer... as Leika and I were trying to leave... there was a commotion right above us as somebody landed in a tree full of screaming Blue Jays. Larry swooped up to a roof top and did his pinecone thing (a special request from Hildy!) Blue Jays continued screaming - I could see flashes of white and brown feathers behind sporadic moving foliage As we made it a few more feet closer to the car, another hawk came swooping through the lot... hard to leave all this activity....

Correction on "Nancy Given" (misspelled on her report I posted)

Sorry Nancy!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello Hawk Stalkers!
Looks like we may get a big turn out for our pot luck.
I suggest you bring chairs and blankets in case we are not able to
get enough picnic tables.
See you than! Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi All,

BAMBI and the"KIDS"

Last night a couple of us were on a street that's very industrial and saw Lucy and Larry on telephone poles about midway down. All of a sudden, a doe came sauntering across the end of the street! We could NOT believe it!
She stopped and looked down the street towards us. Larry was the closest and followed her with his head for a minute, but was nonplussed. Lucy was down the street too far to see her well and Lucky was out of visual range ,one street over, vocalizing. The deer then entered a little thicket behind a building and continued east.

Nature continues to bring surprises to the kids.
Cheers, Lynda

Submitted by Anonymous on

Went by Danehy Park to scope out a good area for the pot luck. The largest group of picnic tables are by the playground and marsh, closer to the Sherman St. parking lot, on the other end of the park. It is only a few minute walk from the New St. parking lot. There is only one sidewalk through the park so meeting up should't be a problem. Keep cool in this heat! Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Went by Danehy Park to scope out a good area for the pot luck. The largest group of picnic tables are by the playground and marsh, closer to the Sherman St. parking lot, on the other end of the park. It is only a few minute walk from the New St. parking lot. There is only one sidewalk through the park so meeting up should't be a problem. Keep cool in this heat! Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sorry, I clicked twice. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

The day Larry first fledged and landed on the side walk and building ledges and parking lots, there was a mob scene of people taking pictures with cameras and cell phones, it was probably taken then.
This evening Amy and I saw Lucy and Larry on poles in the Raytheon parking lot. Amy spotted an adult on top of a nearby bulding and she thinks it was Ruby. We were both happy to see an adult around and neither one was crying. Did not see Lucky however. I am a worry wort,thinking Lucky is being reglected because he is always crying as well as being too young to learn to hunt. Amy reasured me that they all look great and they are only three weeks out of the nest. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

Went by Fawcett and Moulton Streets tonight. Got a siteing of Susan, she is back fron NY. Shorty after, Leika joined us. We spotted an adult fly by and land on a building empty handed and a juvenile follow crying also landing on the building. The adult did not stay long, but the juvenile did. We also saw a juvenile fly from a tree in the parking lot to a pole as well as to a low roof. I think it was Larry but Susan thinks it was Lucky. It also could of been the same juvenile from the roof. At this point it is hard for me to identify them without knowing more of their individual markings. He would fly around from a tree to a pole because of harrasing mockingbirds as well as him watching me watching him with my dog. When he flew back into the tree in the parking lot, I gave him space. We saw him for the first time "stand up" to a mocking bird and assert himself. When the mockingbird landed next to him on the pole he sqwacked back and lifted his wings in defiance and didn't budge. The two birds had a serious conversation and eventually the mockingbird left. We were glad to see his maturity. Glad the rain cleared that humid air. Have a good night. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

At 4:15 leaving Fresh Pond with my dog, walking up Concord Ave. heading west. Heard the cry then saw a juvenile flying over Neville Place heading toward trees on Concord Ave. Moments later I saw an adult being chased by a starling and head toward a low roof on the other side of the street. Could not identify either one, happened too fast and no binoculars handy. Perhaps some hunting lessons at Fresh Pond.
At this point I don't know if I should continue to blog my siteings or are people ready to move on. Is anyone even reading the blog?
Let me know. Hildy

Submitted by Anonymous on

At 4:15 leaving Fresh Pond with my dog, walking up Concord Ave. heading west. Heard the cry then saw a juvenile flying over Neville Place heading toward trees on Concord Ave. Moments later I saw an adult being chased by a starling and head toward a low roof on the other side of the street. Could not identify either one, happened too fast and no binoculars handy. Perhaps some hunting lessons at Fresh Pond.
At this point I don't know if I should continue to blog my siteings or are people ready to move on. Is anyone even reading the blog?
Let me know. Hildy