14 March 2022
I grew up in an area known for Red-tail Hawks. Indeed, the book, Winter’s Hawk. Red-tails on the Southern Plains by Jim Lish outlines the history of the hawks in Oklahoma and their persecution as ‘chicken’ hawks. It speaks to the challenges that the juveniles face to survive. They love the wide open fields for hunting. The images in the book show them on the telephone lines in the rural areas of my former home. When I lived in Oklahoma, I never noticed a single Red-tail Hawk. Indeed, my very first face to face encounter was in my urban garden with the Sharp-shinned male, Sharpie. I had watched a couple of Red-tails raise their young on the ledge of New York University’s library and then the mother was killed by rodenticide. The eggs did not hatch that year. It was suggested that we turn our attention to Big Red and Arthur on the grounds of Cornell University.
Years later I am still moved by the dedication of Big Red to her nest. First with her mate, Ezra, and now with her young male, Arthur, who hatched in an adjacent territory and replaced Ezra in the fall after Ezra was killed in 2017. This will be Big Red and Arthur’s 5th breeding season.
Big Red is an incredible bird. She hatched in 2003 near Ithaca at Brooktondale and was banded that October 20. She is now 19 years old and still as excited as ever to prepare her nest and lay her eggs.
There is much speculation on when Big Red will lay her first eggs. She came to the nest today, 14 March, at 13:03 and she has not left. She has fiddled with some sticks but, in general, she has stood on the nest. Will today be the day for the first egg?
It is 14:58 and Big Red is still on the nest. This makes it nearly two hours. She sure must be thinking she is going to lay an egg and doesn’t want to be too far from the nest when she does!
The wind is starting to gust. Big Red is still stomping the pine and looking down. She seems to be looking for Arthur also. Gosh, Big Red, you are making me anxious now!
Big Red began being quite uncomfortable at 15:09. The reveal of the first egg of the 2022 season comes at 15:11:59!
Wow. This is wonderful. Congratulations Big Red and Arthur!
Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.