- I am the proud parent today of one or two red-shouldered hawk
hatchlings, and some bushtit babies as well!
[For those of you who don't know, I've been watching a red-shouldered
hawk nest for about a month. About 25 feet from my front door I have a
good view of the nest, which is about 50 feet away and about 20 degrees
up (the base of the tree is down the hill). (There's another level view
from my roof but it's twice as far away)]. I have known that hatching
was imminent and was hoping to be around for the big moment.
It was an incredible morning.
Normally there has been only one bird on the nest at a time. This
morning one adult was sitting on the nest but she was sitting higher
than usual - not hunkered down. As I watched, the second adult flew to
the nest carrying a mouse. It stood on the side of the nest and tore
chunks from the mouse. The first adult showed no interest at all in the
In the past one of the adults would have left at this point. But the
one who brought the mouse didn't leave. Instead he put his feet on the
rump of the other one and tried to settle down into the nest. He stayed
there for a while, kind of awkwardly half on top of her, then stood up
and tried to nudge her to the side so he could be more in the nest.
She was calling and calling all the while, oblivious to his desires,
but after a while she responded to his nudging and moved a bit.
Finally both birds were equally ensconced in the nest, leaning
together, heads touching, gazing straight at me and looking very cozy
and domestic. They stayed that way for at least 15 minutes, at which
point I had to go into my house. When I came out about half an hour
later, one bird was standing on the nest and reaching down into it and
eating something. She obviously wasn't tearing food off of anything,
however, so I wondered what she could be eating. I then saw her pick up
a goopy-looking eggshell, broken down the middle, in her bill and fly
off with it. She came back within 30 seconds, stood on the edge of the
nest looking down, and gingerly eased herself into the nest.
Roger Foote came out at that point hoping for some good photographs
(but was handicapped because he had forgotten his camera). After
looking at the hawk nest (not much activity) we went to see the
bushtits (who are removing fecal sacs as of today). After Roger left I
went back to the hawk nest and saw an adult standing on the nest doing
that same same "eating" behavior. She may have been cleaning up from a
second hatching, or was possibly cleaning up more from the first.
In addition to my tremendous excitement at getting to watch this
momentous event, and know almost the exact time of the hatching, I am
also interested to note that both birds were aware that hatching was
about to commence, and both wanted to be there. Or perhaps there's some
reason they both needed to be there (extra defense from predators?)
It's also interesting that the one adult was calling so much just prior
to the hatching. Since smaller birds are afraid of hawks could that
have been a way to keep predators away as well?