Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Branching and fledging - Part 1

The first of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chicks fledged (flew from the nest tree to a neighboring tree) yesterday, June 6. The second chick made a "fludge" or half-fledge as it attempted to fly, but missed the landing and got tangled in some branches. We expect it to make a real flight today.

But we must back up a bit!

This was the scene on May 27, when all three chicks were still in the nest. The youngest is in the middle and I believe the oldest is on the right.

Three chicks in the nest

The young one still has a whole head of white fuzzy down.

The youngest practices flapping

The little one then takes a rest and watches one of its siblings practice flapping.

Stretching those wings

The little one has another go at it - the three siblings seemed to have a system down for taking turns exercising in their confined space.

Chick flaps its wings

The youngest chick on the left

Showing off those flight feathers

Last Thursday, (June 2) we checked on the nest during a thunderstorm and found the oldest sitting outside of it on the branch. This counts as branching.

Someone is outside the nest!

The second chick seemed to be getting ideas about branching him/herself.

What are you doing out there?

I see you watching me!

After the rain stopped, the first chick made a few stretches before hopping back into the nest.

Look at me stretch!

Chick hops back in the nest

A little more flapping practice

All three chicks in the nest

After a little while, the oldest became much more adventurous and climbed out to the end of a limb.

The first chick ventures out on a limb

It's a big new world out there!

First chick branching

This chick is identifiable by one of its tail feathers that has a white stripe on it.

Field mark on the tail of the first chick

Meanwhile, the second chick decided to climb up to the top of the tree above the nest.

Second chick climbs up to the top of the nest tree

In the photo below, you can see the nest on the lower left, the second chick perched above it, and the first chick way out to the right.

Second chick on the left, first chick on branch to the right

Later, parents Amelia and Christo prepared dinner for the energetic kids. It appears to be a baby mourning dove and it was (unfortunately) still alive when Christo brought it to the tree. The two hawks both hung on to it for a while until it stopped struggling.

Amelia and Christo share a mourning dove

Then Amelia administered the fatal neck squeeze before taking the meal back to the nest where all three chicks reassembled for dinner time.

Amelia takes the dove from Christo so she can feed the kids.

Part 2 will feature fledge photos...

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