20 April 2022
Big Red and Arthur have their territory on the Cornell Campus in Ithaca, New York. Big Red hatched in Brooktondale, New York in the spring of 2003. She was banded in Brooktondale as a fledgling Red-tail Hawk on 10 October 2003. It is not precisely know how many mates Big Red has had since she was old enough to lay eggs and hatch chicks. She was observed on the Cornell campus with her mate Ezra prior for two years prior to 2012 when the cameras were placed on the light stands on the campus. When they began to number the chicks, they began with C because of those two years. Ezra and Big Red raised eyases until the spring of 2017 when Ezra was killed defending their territory. Big Red had no chicks in 2017 but she did have a mysterious young visitor to the nest in April 2017. It was Arthur! And Arthur did not even have his red tail yet! After considering several potential mates, Big Red – to the dismay of many human animals – choose a youngster. Arthur has proved himself to be an invaluable mate. He is a fantastic hunter and takes part in all aspects of the breeding season including nestorations, incubation, prey deliveries, and teaching the youngsters how to fly and hunt.
Somewhere in my files I have precisely the number of chicks that hatched. It is likely that she has laid and hatched 54 eggs since she could first breed. It was a large number and everyone of them fledged except for one and that was last year. K2 had an issue with her beak and she was taken into care. The situation was thought dire and she was euthanized.
This is the first year that Big Red has laid four eggs. It seems to be a trend amongst hawk and falcon populations this year. Cornell has already alerted everyone that this is unknown territory and they do not know what to expect.
Red-tail hawks are the most wide-spread hawk in North America. They are medium sized and are distinguished by their beautiful red tail when they are a year old. They normally live in wide open spaces and you can see them sitting on top of poles hunting. Indeed, Big Red and Arthur often spend time on the poles along Highway 366 near Cornell. You might commonly hear that Big Red is sitting on the 366 pole. That is what it means. There are fields across the highway still in Big Red and Arthur’s territory where they hunt and where they teach the eyases to hunt.
You can watch the hatching of the chicks and the daily lives of Big Red, Arthur, and the Ls here:
When the chicks hatch they will be covered with white soft feathers with a black beak and the cutest fat little pink legs and feet.
The image below is K1 hatched and K2 pipping.
There are several video clips of highlights from 2021. Here is one of those that will give you an idea of what to expect this year.
It is going to be an exciting season on the Cornell Campus particularly if all four eggs hatch. Boy, Arthur start stacking up the chipmunks and the squirrels!
Thank you so much for joining me. I am eggcited! Take care everyone. See you soon.
Thank you to the Cornell Bird Lab for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.