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Proud Parent!

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  • Kate Marianchild
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2005
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      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?

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