Sunday, May 22, 2011

Different year, different nest

Paul is absolutely correct. Different year, different nest, different possibilities. Even the layout of the nest is different, we get more back side views. These chicks don't know how fortunate they are getting all this food. Andy and I were estimating more than twice as much being dropped off compared to last year. Good pickens for the chicks which is more important, but last year the Three Amigos would stand together searching for their parents waiting for food. When the parents finally came delivering food they would cry and we would cheer that dinner had finally arrived. These guys have it good. When I left in the late afternoon, Buzz landed on the roof with a dead bird apparently waiting for Ruby. When she did not come within 5 minutes he dropped it in the nest. The chicks stared at each other and at the bird for a while, no rush, then started working on it. Half of it was hanging off the front of the nest and the devouring was pretty graphic and bloody (sorry). If the morning people come and the food is still there you will get good shots. If not, Ruby cleaned house. Hildy

Ruby Repairing Her Nest


Sal Perisano

coming home with the 'hamburgers'

buz+food+kids 5-22-11_0201 copy copy

i spent around six hours at the nest on sat. i spend so much time there i think i am turning into a 'red tail' (among other'things').
i have some great shots for (later}. this photo tells the story it has the kids and dad coming home with the 'hamburgers'. "georgie inspects while "honey and yahoo look on"
later ( or was that friday)ruby came in with a huge green branch to 'oohs and ahhs'. there was lots of company there all day . my favorite was all the dogs i met(being a dog lover). one small four year old mixed breed didnt want to leave me.
enjoy the day, george mclean

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Once again I have a lot of good ones to share, so I'll post a few and give you the link to my Flickr page to see the rest, which includes a video of the chicks flapping their wings.

Ruby Flying Away
Ruby Flying Away

All Three Chicks
All Three Chicks

Chick Flapping its Wings
Chick Flapping its Wings

Buzz with Prey
Buzz with Prey

Buzz Leaving Nest with Chicks in Background
Buzz Leaving Nest with Chicks in Background

The rest of them can be seen at this link. The first 11 listed are from Saturday, and the first one is the video:

The segment was for 5 seconds. I was more excited for the hawks, they got their 20 seconds of fame. Hildy

TV spot

Hildy just told me she was interviewed at 185 and it will be on Channel 5 at 6 PM tonight!!! She's understandably excited about it :-) Ernie

Friday, May 20, 2011

more good night story


ruby yelled"i thought i told you not to swallow it whole"? the baby answered "i know ma, but feet taste so good ! the old guywith the white hair (george)

lighten up

i am having all sorts of fun at the nest, watching silly people skip all around the young hawks names, as the great man said ! "what fools we mortals be"! who cares ?
meanwhile as 'hildy' said of yahoo (i didnt name him). "he is a terror"!. look at him try to eat half a bird.
i just down loaded 300 pictures from the last several days. i will try to post the exciting ones . my quote for the day is "lighten up!" george

more story

good night susan, good night georgie , good night honey, good night yahoo, good night hildy, and good night paul, good night claudia, good night nancy, good night dena!
do you think tomorrow will come ma? it always does yahoo!
will all those silly humans be there tomorrow mom? they always are georgie! mom ,can i have a leg for myself tommorow? yes honey if you dont swallow it whole while the old guy with the white hair is taking pictures!
well done susan ! 'the old guy with the white hair' (george)

good night fresh pond....

I stopped by 185 this evening around 7:30 PM and Ruby was hunkered down in the nest with the kids tucked in their nest bowl. Didn't see Buzz. After a few minutes there was some commotion as one chick got up to "do its business" as they say. Everyone settled back down and Ruby was back in her "brood" stance, covering the chicks. As the darkness set in, out of nowhere I saw Buzz zoom in front of 185, seemingly in a hurry to get to the trees by Fresh Pond (where I assume he roosts for the night). This short family scene inspired the following:

With apologies to Goodnight Moon and our hawk family...

The Red-Tails of 185: "Goodnight Fresh Pond"

Ruby: OK kids, time for bed. Everybody settle down. Are you ready for Goodnight Fresh Pond?
Chicks: Yeah. Yeah. We love that.
Ruby: Goodnight Fresh Pond Mall sign. Goodnight Whole Foods. Goodnight lamppost. Goodnight vole market. Goodnight Rindge Towers. Goodnight feeding post. Goodnight weathervane. Goodnight Abt and Social Security building. Goodnight Iggy’s. Goodnight railroad tracks.
Chick 1: Goodnight CVS sign.
Ruby: Goodnight T. J. Maxx.
Chick 2: Goodnight transmission tower.
Ruby: Goodnight Trader Joe’s.
Chick 3: My turn, my turn. Goodnight…um…goodnight moon.
Ruby: Goodnight Hotel Tria.
Chicks: Goodnight fake owl!
Ruby: Ha ha. I see you figured that out already.
Chicks: Goodnight flightless humans with your funny eyes.
Ruby: Goodnight roosting tree.
Ruby: Goodnight Fresh Pond. Ok, that’s it, kids. Heads down.
Chicks: Not yet. Can we hear it again? Please?
Ruby: Not tonight. Hunker down everyone. Looks like another night of cold, wet weather. Just look at these feathers – what a mess! I preen and preen all day, and for what? Oh well, I don’t think your father even notices.
Chick 1: Hey, move over.
Chick 2: Ouch! Mom, she stepped on my foot.
Chick 1: Well, if your feet weren’t so big…
Chick 2: Mom, she’s making fun of me again.
Ruby: Kids, what did I tell you? I know this nest isn’t like your cousin’s at Mt. Auburn, but it will have to do. There’s room enough if you all behave.
Ruby: Ok, it’s getting dark out. Everyone tucked in?
Chick 3: Mom, I have to go to the bathroom.
Ruby: Again? Ok, get up, but be careful. Don’t get too close to the edge.
Chick 1: Yeah, you better work on your aim too.
Chick 3: Mom!
Chick 2: No wonder you have to go again. You were quite the little pig at dinner tonight!
Chick 3: Mommmm!
Ruby: Leave him alone. He hasn’t had as much practice as the rest of you – and he needs to eat. He’s a growing boy (or girl)? You know, some days I just can’t tell!
Ruby: Anyone else have to go?
Chick 1: Not me.
Chick 2: Not me.
Ruby: Ok, enough procrastinating. Snuggle in. You kids are driving me crazy. Look at my head – see, you’re making my feathers turn white! You know I’m not supposed to look like an eagle.
Ruby: Now where is that father of yours? I told him it’s not safe flying around so late. You can hardly see on a good night, but with this low visibility...oh, there he goes. Say goodnight to your father.
Chicks: Goodnight Dad.
Buzz: Goodnight kids.
Ruby: Goodnight Buzz.
Buzz: Goodnight Ruby.

Goodnight all.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Spent a couple of "sunny and warm" hours by the nest with Paul, George and a few others. Perhaps Paul will give his wonderful updates or perhaps he won't have the time. Both he and George got some good photos. The whole hawk family looked content and busy either hunting, protecting territory or constantly consuming. These chicks have their definite personalities. The oldest and largest is so dominant. She/he appears to grab and eat the prey almost whole. I think we should rename her Miss Piggy. Hildy

tripled in size

wow !!!!!!!!!!! stay away for a few rainy days and the chicks 'georgie, ,honey, and yahoo,--- who? have tripled in size . i was there with 'gabby'(my fellow dog lover) and david. and we all got great pictures. ruby spent a lot of time staring at her beauty in the window. she had one crash and recover and went up to the nest. (click) . the 'babys' are huge. we got a picture of the youngest with a birds leg sticking out of his mouth ! buzz came in fast and dropped a small bird. a little later ruby went into her attention mode ,zpped out and came back with a medium size heron , she had an exchange with buzz, hewent and sat on the sign in front of trader joes. the nest is to small for the five of them it looks like . george p.s. i try to keep my blurbs not to long winded

Wednesday, May 18, 2011



If there isn’t much of a wind and you listen carefully, you can almost hear the three Redtail chicks growing. Some wag might say what I’m hearing is actually Buzz, huffing and puffing, as he supplies fuel to be stoked into the fiery feathered furnaces in the nest. That’s a reasonable surmise, because Buzz is busting his chops to keep four big hawks well fed. That is, three chicks and Mom. “Chicks” actually seems like a misnomer. These are ravenous young females, akin to a human family of teenage boys, only with Redtails, the females grow faster and bigger and stronger than their male siblings, and therefore they eat more (and more..and more.)

Buzz knows better than anyone. Today, in 2.5 hours from 11:30 to 2:00p.m. he made at least four food deliveries. All that I saw were small rodents, apparently mice, not voles. In one case, he made a delivery, left, and flew directly over to the east side of Alewife Brook Parkway, where he crashed into the grass. Seconds later he was back on the roof of 185 with a mouse dangling from his beak. Ruby helicoptered out of the nest up to the southeast corner of 185, next to her mate. He dropped the tasty morsel and she bent to pick it up as though it were a box of Godiva chocolates that might disappear if not held tightly. They sat together, a scene of marital bliss, before she parachuted back into the nest. The kids treated it as chocolate. It was inhaled, orally, supporting reports of kids taking a small rodent and swallowing it whole.

After this last mouse, Buzz disappeared, Ruby retreated back to the southeast corner of the building, and the three kids did what they do so well. Sleep. And grow. Sleeping is when that mouse fur and muscle is transmogrified into feather and muscle. Into bulk. The byproduct is increasingly voluminous streams of whitewash. A word to the wise. If you see a large brown hawk with a whitish head flapping her wings furiously and bowing to the west, do not attempt to enter 185 Alewife Brook Parkway without benefit of an umbrella.

The good news is that Ruby did not attack her image(s) while I was watching, though she spent a fair amount of time sitting on a railing on the south side of the front facing her challenger(s). After the last mouse, she flew up to the southeast corner of the building where she preened her wet feathers for a full thirty minutes. (Are she and Buzz going out of a date tonight?) I’ve had not seen her preening so long anytime this year. (She had even been preening earlier on the railing, facing her image, which suggests she wasn’t feeling too threatened today.) Maybe it was just the 100% humidity. You just know what it can do to hair, I mean, feathers.

Buzz has his talons full. Or he needs to have his talons full, to keep those “chicks” growing. Today was the most frequent set of food deliveries I have seen this year, and none of the prey was particularly large. The kids have not shown any sign of lacking food. Quite the contrary. But I’ve seen very few large prey, such as squirrels, delivered to the nest this spring. That means more hard work for Buzz. Redtails are opportunists, taking what is most readily available. The larger female has a better chance of taking larger, but less abundant prey. The smaller, quicker male has the ability to take smaller, faster, and generally more abundant prey. Last year Buzz brought in a number of squirrels, but also a number of small birds, including Robins and Starlings just out of the nest. I can well imagine Buzz sitting high, looking for Robins and Starling adults delivering food to their nests. Reconnaissance can pay off. He also has some idea as to where clutches of young rodents are emerging from their nests to feed. Lately he’s brought in some small Chipmunks, and earlier he was bringing some many snakes I thought he had to be scarfing them from the reptile house at the zoo there were so many. Whatever, Buzz is obviously up to the task, despite the changing challenge. The next two weeks will be the biggest challenge, however.

The kids, meanwhile, are large. But they are clearly still kids. Last week I was watching the youngest, Whitey. Suddenly his/her eyes seemed to grow huge, though actually they can’t do that at all. Whatever, his expression was priceless as he looked into the eastern sky. I turned around to see a Lufthansa 747 lumbering into the air over Cambridge, wheeling to the west and then south. Whitey, who has been sitting in the back of the nest behind two hulking siblings, had apparently never seen a 747 before. Perhaps he thought that was the largest hawk he/she had ever seen! Yesterday the Bobbsey twins, Alpha and Beta, sat in the front of the nest peering over the edge with necks craned to look below. What aroused their interest I don’t know, but they were really curious. (Could they have been mentally measuring those whitewash shots?)

Whatever, rain or shine, the saga continues, though not for long. Yesterday the Bobbsey Twins had a full set of primaries and secondaries sprouting from the trailing edges of their young wings, with bare bases of feathers exposed on the “wrist” above. Today they were covered with coverts. The underwing coverts are now beginning to come in as well, and the brother feathers are showing through the sheaths on the crowns of the Bobbsey twins. Whitey is still white. Alpha and Beta have substantial tails growing. Whitey has a mere stub of a tail. That won’t last much longer.

By the way, if in “Which one is a kid” you selected the bird on the right, you failed. You were only 33.3% right. All three are “kids.”



Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

they're big!

I agree with Paul that it's been fascinating to watch--I didn't learn about the hawks last year until later in May so to watch the chicks grow this fast is really something.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you talented photographers who are so generously sharing your pictures of our favorite family with the rest of us. You probably have no idea what a treat it is to be able to look at them whenever we want to or to show them to people who have never seen a hawk in such detail.

I am there early every morning mainly to observe Ruby and Buzz and get a sense of their routine and how they're doing. A couple of other people are often there also and they like to watch the chicks, however lately I'm too nervous about them falling out of the nest to watch them very much! They're big! So I don't get to see many people out there but hopefully soon I'll also be able to be there in the evenings and will see more of you then.



I was at the nest from 5:30-6:30PM checking on my feathered friends. Ruby was in the nest calmly sitting and tending to her chicks which was nice to see. Those chicks are getting huge! I wasn't sure if they were adults or chicks looking at their size and change in colors. But those white heads give it away. From 5:30 to 6:15 Ruby sat with her impatient chicks while waiting for dinner. There was much crying and looking over the edge from the two biggest, but Ruby stayed patient. Sometimes they would all huddle in the corner near the window and peck at something, poor pickings I quess. At 6:15 Buzz came by and landed on the right edge of the roof with talons empty. He was DRENCHED and looked ratty and small, half the size of his chicks! As buzz sat on the edge of the roof, Ruby flew out of the nest and landed on a girder by the windows. She stared at her self for 5 minutes while Buzz sat on the roof. After he took off she paced the length of the right girder several times following her reflection on the window. She did intentionally bump her wing several times and her beak once at her reflection, but it looked more gentle, no slamming and falling. Buzz returned at 6:25 with a small rodent, a mouse perhaps. He brought it to the left corner of the roof and Ruby followed sitting with him and the mouse. They sat together, she made a sound and it looked like they were having "a moment". After about 5 minutes, he left and she continued to stay on the roof with the dead mouse for another 5 minutes. She then brought the mouse into the nest. I was happy to be have been able to see what I came to see. All 5 look well and thriving. I just wished that I had seen a run away umbrella land on the pinnacle of 185 to help keep these guys dry, but no suck luck! Hildy



did anybody get shots of the eagles?.... -David-Marc Goldstein



Forgot to attach the photo of the youngest chick.


watching and caring

I am a bit surprised at the relative absence of observers and of discussion of the three chicks in the nest at 185. The past two weeks have been fascinating as I’ve watched three fluff balls develop into incredibly large birds with feathers and wings and personalities. It’s been a marvel to see them change literally overnight, every night. This is a rare opportunity to see three young birds develop into “young adults,” who should be ready to fly in about two+ weeks. This opportunity may then be gone, period. At times it seems as though no one else is watching, or cares.

Watching the nest the past week or so, I was reminded of views of humpback whales, playfully slapping their flippers against the ocean in exhilaration, or just to hear the noise, or to tease or impress their companions, or to communicate over long distances. The nest would look empty, only to be suddenly alive with a long, white humpback’s flipper slicing through air rather than water. A kid trying out, stretching and flapping, one of her or his wings before it developed its upper- and underwing coverts. You can still see these whales slicing air at 185.

This morning Buzz brought in some food, which I could not identify. It was small, and all three chicks were up and pecking at it. All I could see was a gang of brown-shirted rugby players in a scrum, showing me their nether portions as they faced away from me and picked at the morsel. Just a few minutes earlier, there had been chicks in the nest. From my “butt-on” view, they could easily be mistaken for adults. They were virtually as large as adults.

When they took a break, three Bald Eagles appeared. Three white heads on three brown-backed bodies, prompting passers-by more than ever to ask if those were eagles up there. They looked more like miniature eagles than Redtails!

Today, in the light drizzle, I thought I saw the oldest chick, sitting regally like an adult Bald Eagle, with its proud, white head, facing south. I refer to the largest, presumably oldest, and most aggressive chick as “Alpha” for operating purposes. The slightly smaller bird, slightly behind Alpha’s development curve, is Beta. The third bird I’ve been calling “Whitey,” because it has always been noticeably whiter than its older siblings. It might just as well be called “Bashful,” because you see it far less frequently than his/her older, more aggressive siblings. Whitey typically eats last, and is the last to helicopter to exercise its young, rapidly growing wings. Alpha does whatever she wants. Whitey does whatever Alpha allows him/her to do.

Whitey is not as young, vis-à-vis, its siblings, as Lucky was vis-à-vis Lucy and Larry, but it is still the smallest and more adorable chick, the baby of the clutch. It shamelessly imitates its older siblings, and “respects” their right to have first choice. Today, while Whitey was playing Bald Eagle, Ruby suddenly appeared, landing in the southeast quadrant of the nest, the only portion not occupied by three hulking juvenile hawks. However, as she landed and she attempted to get her right wing properly adjusted, she nudged Whitey, who was standing relatively close to the edge of the nest. Whitey sat down as though sucked back to the nest by a vacuum cleaner. Whitey was not ready for any unplanned adventures.

When Whitey first stood up, I had thought it was probably Alpha, based on its size and development. Until Alpha and Beta stood up and revealed how much they had developed in the past 23 hours. The changes are that dramatic on a day-to-day basis. Whitey has streaks of brown buttons down his/her breast, somewhat like a double-breasted suit, only there are at least five vertical rows of “buttons,” the sheaths of his ventral body feathers coming in, brown but yet unfurled as they emerge from their keratinous tubes. When those plumes start to burst out, Whitey will look like a different bird. Alpha and Beta look much grayer-brown on their still-downy heads, so Whitey still lives up to his/her name, but that might not be the case for long. Whitey now has a rusty breast, emulating his older siblings. He also has a necklace of feathers that are already emerging around the base of his/her rusty breastplate. The feathers are also sprouting down his flanks. You can still see his ears, about 7 o’clock behind his eyes, and the white occipital spot on the back of the heads of all the chicks.

As the rugby scrum broke up, Alpha looked virtually as big as Buzz, perhaps rivaling Ruby. Others have seen her backside and assumed they were seeing Ruby in the nest! These chicks also have their own personalities, but you have to observe them for a while to discern the differences. They way things look, the two older chicks, and possibly all three, could be females. We should have a better idea by the end of this week.

Today one of the chicks was in the back of the nest, against the wall. I saw its butt rise high in the air, above the rest of the body. The not-so-little wings started flapping furiously, and suddenly a large stream of ”whitewash” exploded into the air, coursing over the other chicks in the nest, clearing the nest wall, and cascading like limestone raindrops to the concrete five stories below. I was glad no one was walking into the building at that time because it was heavy white rain. I wondered if the culprit had just found it too bothersome to trod across a nest of large siblings to void from the edge, or if it was some juvenile sense of power (or humor) that caused this blast from the back of the pack. The flurry of wing activity in the process made it look as though the bird had been pumping up the pressure to achieve such distance. (Boys, at least, remembering their childhood, might better appreciate this achievement.)

It started to rain heavily. I retreated to the car trying to keep my camera and binoculars dry. The kids hunkered down. How could three creatures that big disappear into something that looked that small and confining? The nest looked empty. Anyone walking by could easily believe the chicks were gone. In less than three weeks they will be.



Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA

stress and fixation

Thanks for the update. I hope Buzz is okay since he did not answer her call for support. It is much more difficult watching the nest this year due to Ruby's destructive behavior. I gladly anticipate the chick's fledging to end her stress and fixation. I need to remind myself that I am watching the "animal kingdom" Hildy

still fixated on her reflection

I was over between 11:30 and 1:45 yesterday. Buzz was not seen at all. Ruby spent about 10 minutes in the nest during that period, at 12:15 and 1:00 p.m. At the latter she fed the kids something briefly.

She spent a fair amount of time on the railings, but was relatively calm. Occasionally she hopped up and down a railing. She hit the south wall of the atrium once. Several times she flew around to the south side of the building, landing in the tree and attacking the window at least once. When she did that, she also called loudly as she flew a very short distance between the tree and the glass. I tried to run over each time she went there, but she spent about 10 minutes in the trees over four intervals, plus several minutes in the trees on the SE corner of the building after feinting at her image in the window. The kids got up once to stretch and turn around and void, and I had a few brief moments of all three chicks sitting together in the front of the nest. Most of the time they were just hunkered down, with two of the kids standing up, helicoptering, separately about ten minutes apart. Ruby crashed only twice that I saw, but was still fixated on her reflection despite low, dark clouds and intermittent light drizzle.



amazing picture

Ruby feeds Georgie

"check out this amazing picture and i am sorry i sent a whole gallery? i guess i need another cup of coffee, or a frontal lobotamy? george"

Monday, May 16, 2011

red tail band numbers

Nice work, Patrick.

I just spoke with someone at the state department of fish and wildlife (about something else) and asked him about the band number. He said that usually there would be five numbers after the dash on the band. There are usually three or four numbers then a dash and then five numbers. Any chance you can find two more?

However, he did say that it is unusual that Buzz was banded on his left leg since most banding is done on the right leg. This fact may help identify who did the banding.

We're getting closer!


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hildy already reported what I saw, so I'll get right to the photos. I have a lot of them to share today, so I apologize if it slows down the site or your email!

Buzz Leaving Nest
Buzz Leaving Nest

Chick Eager to Eat
Chick Eager to Eat (sorry, I can't tell who's who)

Ruby Taking out the Trash
Ruby Taking out the Trash

Ruby with Twig
Ruby with Twig

Ruby Challenging her Reflection
Ruby Challenging her Reflection

Chick Flapping its Wings
Chick Flapping Its Wings

And here's what you've probably been waiting for, Buzz's Band! Most of these are hard to read, but from what we already knew, and a combination of these six, I think the number may be 1207-853. The 3 is the one I'm least certain about since it only appears in the middle of the bottom row, and is also very blurry.
Shots of Buzz's Band

good (rainy) morning

Good (rainy) morning, hawkwatchers. Thanks to Susan Moses, we had a particularly exciting Saturday. The Tufts facility in Grafton, that had been caring for the injured 33 Oxford St. hawk for the past month, felt the hawk was ready to go home and gave Susan the happy task of releasing the red tail back into the wild. Susan and Amy got the bird at about 11:30AM in Grafton and came to Oxford St., Cambridge. At 12:45PM Saturday, on the grass in front of the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Susan opened the box and the hawk flew out like a champ, quickly landing on a tree across the street, where its 2010 nest was located. The hawk surely knew it was home. Soon after that our released hawk and two other hawks were soaring overhead, often bumping each other and, finally, locking talons and spinning in a spiral. What a display.....I look forward to talking with Paul for an explanation about this activity.
Susan followed the progress of the hawk throughout its rehabilitation and Tufts felt she was the perfect candidate to set the hawk free. I sent some pix and explained the story in an email to Ken MacLeod of WBZ-TV, who did the story on Buzz and Ruby and the kids last year. Ken did a short piece on the release on the 11PM news last night. I hope some of you caught it......
GOOD WORK, SUSAN!!!!!!!! Here's the story in pictures......I've included the photo of the two hawks with talons locked...They were really high in the sky so I don't know if the photo will give you a sense of what was happening. In one of the in-flight photos you can see the new band on the hawk.........Johngarp

Ruby's brood patch

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

Saturday, May 14, 2011

content chicks

I am enjoying all the beautiful photography coming on the site. Either experienced or amateur photographers, I admire it all.
This year the happening at the nest has not brought in a crowd like last year, every year is different. I find it more fun sharing the excitement, maybe when the chicks get ready to fledge, we can share the excitement/anxiety again.
I was there from around 1:15 to 2:30 with Patrick and another fellow. Patrick had been there since 10am. He saw Ruby smash into the window on the side of 185 closest to Circle furniture. He also saw her tap at the window on the left side of 185 and look at her reflection on the right side of 185. When I came at 1:15 she was in the nest looking somewhat relaxed, not too antsy but looking for Buzz, I assume. He did a couple fly bys with no food. Patrick said the chicks had not been fed for three hours but they appeared content, relaxing and stretching, no crying. There does seem to be an obvious hierarcy in that nest, a definite pecking order. Last year the three seemed to have a conradery. Ruby left the nest and sat in a tree by Fresh Pond for close to 20 minutes then appeared on the pinacle for 5-10 minutes. The chicks seemed very content, no crying when Ruby landed on the pinnacle so they must not of been that hungry. She took off, I went to Whole Foods for 15-20 minutes. When I returned to the nest Ruby was feeding her chicks.
With all this all this devotion and time and writting, I think we should should get some course credit. I know, is a labor of love! Hildy

feeding babies

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We were there from around 9:30 to 10:45AM with a slight break inside Whole
Foods. Around 10:30 Ruby? arrived with some prey covered with leaves. She
then proceeded to tear it up and feed it to the babies. We left shortly

When we first arrived around 9:30 the babies were alone in the nest. We did
occasionally see one of the parents flying around and briefly stopping in
the nest and then leaving.

Joan Chasan
Framingham, MA

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Joan Chasan's Slide show link

snake for lunch

At around 11:50AM Buzz flew in with a snake and the two of them proceeded to
feed the chicks. Pictures of the activity will be posted later, when I get
them edited. We left sometime after 12 noon when things quieted down again
and Buzz flew off to hunt for more food. -Joan Chasan
Three Chicks 1 IMG_0746

This morning I watched as Ruby fed all three chicks through two sequences. More to come later. Here are my first modest photos of the three chicks, one showing all well; one with one of the chicks stretching his little, little wings (much larger than they were three days ago) ; and one with the youngest chick looking at me and you. They are very alert, and increasingly curious, and adventurous. However, they cannot yet sit up on their haunches for any period of time. They are changing every day. Speaking of changing, I found out why they don’t wear diapers. More tonight or tomorrow.



poo poo

Looks like Buzz and Ruby are setting up the grill. Look at all that poo poo! I don't remember that much last year. Maybe it's all that snake! They need a good rain to wash that off! -Hildy

Saturday, April 30, 2011

how do they know?

Wow, what good fortune - that you were there to speak with him - thank you, Bonnie! - and that he was a (more than) sympathetic person.

At 11:15 I swung by, no crane... Ruby hanging at nest. Saw 2 chick heads, and one of the chicks turned around to poop so the latter landed outside of the nest (how do they know to do this? ) -Dena

good sign

I was at the nest for about an hour and a half in the early afternoon watching with a few others. Buzz and Ruby as well as the chicks all seemed unaffected by any earlier roof repair. There seems to be enough food up there since I saw both Buzz and Ruby bring in rodents without hearing any cries of hunger. Good sign! -Hildy

Saturday noon

Ruby Preparing Lunch
Ruby Arriving With Twig
Buzz in Front of 185

I was at the nest for around two hours around noon/early afternoon on Saturday. Here's some of my shots. I then saw a great blue heron at Mount Auburn. I may post some of those later on if people are interested. -Patrick S

crane operator

Don't know if others got to see the action this morning on the roof of 185. Ernie was leaving as I arrived around 7:40 AM. As I watched Ruby in the nest, a large crane suddenly appeared over the roof of 185. Driving around to the back of the building I met Rob, the crane operator, sitting in the cab of the crane supervising some workers on the roof. They were removing and replacing some equipment from the back of the roof, about 30 feet from the rear of the building.

I asked if they knew about the hawks (they did not) and he thanked for the warning since they have had some experience being "buzzed" by someone like Buzz in the past. Rob couldn't have been sweeter as he took out his own binoculars, gave me a place to park legally near his crane, and walked around the front of the building to check out the nest and Ruby's antics for a few minutes. He clearly appreciates the hawks he meets in his line of business!

I called Paul Roberts, who was on a Plum Island watch this morning, and alerted him to this activity, hoping that nature and humans would figure this one out together. I left for my day, and when I drove by again around 1:45PM I saw no sign of the workers or the crane. Hopefully there were no dramas to report.

Chicks are looking bigger and more active every day! -Bonnie


Looks like Buzz is making a dent in the snake population. Around 10:10 AM or so, Ruby was on the nest and flew over to the top of T J Maxx. Buzz arrived with a snake and landed on a nearby lamppost in the parking lot. Ruby wasted no time in joining him, and then Buzz took off leaving the snake with Ruby. I think she might have had a bite or two, but after a few minutes, she carried the snake back into the nest and fed the chicks. George and John got some good photos, and Amy was there as well.

We all eventually headed out - and I, of course, made my requisite stop at Trader Joe's. As I was about to drive away (at 10:56 AM by my car clock), in flies Buzz with another snake! He dropped it off and left right away, and Ruby fed the chicks again. All three look pretty good and seemed to get their share.

I'm sitting in the parking lot writing this, and I just looked up (11:14 AM) to find Buzz back in the nest for a minute- I think with another food delivery (but I'm not sure since I didn't see him come in, but Ruby started to feed the chicks again)! What a guy!


view photo thought you might like to check out the photo "'buzz brings 'georgie' a snake' g.mclean" on

You can view and comment on the photo here. also included this personal message:

"i sent this on for the people that have trouble with the 'yahoo' mail! geo."

Best Regards

Friday, April 29, 2011

an incredible day

This was an incredible day with the Alewife clan. I went to spend 60-90 minutes with the hawks, expecting to focus on the three chicks. I arrived shortly after Kate left Westminster Abbey, and finally left Fresh Pond Mall on or about her first wedding anniversary... about four hours later. It’s impossible to accurately describe what I saw and shared with the hawks today. Words are just inadequate. I’ve been trying to document it for my own notes, but it was so new, so intimate, so revealing, and so unexpected. I took over 600 photos, including some of my personal best of them or any hawks. Several are attached.

I’ll just say I was privileged to be alone with Ruby for about 90 minutes while she hunted, usually at or below eye level. I watched her plummet off a post, miss her target momentarily, but within two steps capture her prey, a young gray squirrel. She carried it into a newly leafed tree where she ate it in privacy, and possibly stored some for later. She did not carry any back to the nest for her young. In the attached photo look at how her eyes, her head, are focused on the prey while her body has yet to adjust to the prey’s behavior.

Buzz, in fact, apparently took food to the nest while I was with Ruby; at least he was feeding the chicks when I returned to the nest after this incredible time with Ruby. But Ruby was not the only one to reveal herself “up close and personal.” On either side of my visit, I was privileged to be very close by as Buzz hunted, both times unsuccessfully after prey I could not see but he had. The first time he plummeted from a light pole into heavy brush, landing feet first on a spot warmed merely a split second earlier by some small mammal. (No bird flew but Buzz.) As he struck, he swept both wings back above his head and way above his long, extended legs as he rapidly came to earth. Both wings, however, became entangled in the brush. His left wing was left hanging on a tall bush as though it was no longer part of his body. Fortunately, he was not injured. He pull in one wing and then the other, roused himself, and then flew back to perhaps ten feet above where I was standing.

Later in the day, he went hunting in the same general area, again plummeting to earth on a low hillside covered by short grass and intermittent bushes the size of backpacking tents. Again the foray was in vain, but this time without the dramatics.

In between these hunting sallies, I watched the nest. Strangely, on this glorious day I saw only two other 185ers watching the nest.

Ruby was gone from the nest half the time I was there. Only one chick appears to be a toddler now. Any parent knows that when your youngster begins to crawl, your life changes dramatically. A whole new world of risk and danger is opened to the kid, and to anxious parents. When your progeny begins to walk, the dangers ratchet up several orders of magnitude. I think Ruby knows she has only a day or two before at least two of her chicks will be able to stand up and helicopter, and soon to hop-fly across the nest... and maybe farther. Continual parental oversight will be required. Ruby enjoyed her protracted time outside the nest, without the kids. I don’t know how long the kids were left unattended, but when I returned after 90 minutes, Buzz was feeding the young, finishing very quickly, after which the chicks rested.

Another thing that was new today were the temperatures. By mid-morning, with direct sunlight beating down on 185, the chicks were standing with open beaks, each with a sharp, brilliant red, serpent’s tongue fully exposed as each panted to cool itself. One chick, apparently the oldest, crawled/hobbled up to the glass window on the north side of the nest, either hoping to get into the shade or appreciating the coolness of the insulated glass. Ruby was hot, too. She had beak wide open, her sharp, narrow, pimento-colored tongue stretching as she panted. Shortly thereafter, she half extended both wings, providing shade to all three chicks. Shades of last year, when temp’s hit the nineties in May, and bereft of any breeze, the large chicks sweltered without any liquid to drink. In an act that I will never forget, Ruby arched her extended wings over her large chicks to keep them out of the direct sun.

Change is accelerating. Within the next several days, the chicks will be able to sit up on their haunches, dramatically increasing their visibility. As their wings, legs, and
bodies grow, so do their demands for food. This year it seems to be a little more difficult to find food. Food does not seem to be as abundant as last year. It may be more of a challenge to feed three huge, hungry gapes. We shall see.



paul the dog

paul the dog 4.29-11@185 f.p._8368 copy

i was sittlng on my folding camp seat (bad back) by the red light at 185 fresh pond when some one yelled 'hey you wit da camera". i looked around and all i saw was a smiling bull dog looking back at me out a car window?
he said to me "my name is paul and i love boids, whada dey doin up on the building"? i answered "they live there paul , thats ruby, buzz, and baby georgie, honeyhawk and yahoo are sleeping". he said back ' i am on my way for an interview in the new'men in black' movie, how do i look? i answered " you are one handsome dude paul. come back and visit for lunch when the babys are bigger" . he took a puff on his cigar, the light changed and all i heard was "i will see ya later, keep driving johnny" !
i hope you injoyed my visit from 'paul the dog'. he and my beagle 'emily rose ' share the same 'marty feldmen' eyes. "aint dey pretty"? ( i have to stay away from the cooking sherry) -georgemclean

snake to play with

buzz snake +fam. 4-29-11_8384

after downloading 750 pictures i found this one ! every child needs a toy so buzz brought little georgie a nice long snake to play with. instead he ate it ? being his 'god father' i am proud of him (hes named after me). if he keeps eating his toys he could end up at 'harvard' !
i am amassing a large folder of hawk images from 'mount auburn" and '185 fresh pond' while trying to keep up with the 'warblers' so we have exciting times ahead and i will try to be' brief in my messages'.
i wish we had the 185 fresh pond' photo stream back? no one knows what happened to it?i would love to find out, who , what and why it no longer exists?
have a great day , see you at the nest , -george mclean

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

active and strong chicks

Buzz was perched on the light fixture at the right rear corner of 185 as I arrived by car at 8:20 AM. Ruby was looking down as if at the kids, but chicks were not visible at all. She gave me a wonderful Preening Show though, so I got to see her thoroughly clean under her right wing by folding it at the 'elbow' and spending several minutes with her head tucked under her wing doing I-don't-know-what but doing it with gusto. Her tail was remarkably red from this position and I got to see her beautiful feathers in some detail. Then came a very noisy pair of Canada Geese flying very, very low through the Whole Foods parking lot and honking non-stop for several minutes. They then flew together up to the back of 185 and a few minutes later came back still honking loudly and persistently.

At 8:35 Ruby seemed to rouse the chicks. Then she swooped out of the nest and I saw two white heads peek above the top of the nest. Then, necks, and then flapping wings! I only saw two of the three chicks this morning. I was nervous about them being left alone and hoped that Buzz was still perched on the roof of the building somewhere looking out for 'bad guys'. At 9:00 AM I noticed a hawk on the third lamppost from 185 and put up my binoculars to see who it was. Of course, then when I scanned back to the nest, Ruby was back with the chicks. I was late for my yoga class, and had to run but as I drove away I got a good look at the lamppost bird and it was Buzz, looking regal, surveying his territory.

I hope Ernie makes it over today to get some video of the chicks. I was surprised at how active and strong these two appeared to be. Happy hawking everyone! Isn't the season off to a great start? -Bonnie

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

looks like Ruby

I agree with Susan; it looks like Ruby to me. I’ve seen her leave the nest for up to 5 – 7 minutes with chicks alone in the nest, and seen her leave briefly. It appears that when she leaves, it is to void or to cough up a casting away from the nest. Or, in one case, honor Buzz and/or visibly support him in defending the nest from an Osprey.

The bird in this photo is an adult, as told from the extensive barring on the flanks , the bright white body feathers, and the vibrant colors. The light, yellow eyes suggest a young adult. The three kids of last year, if they are alive, still look like juveniles. Yellow eyes, no red tail, heavy dark vertical streaks on the belly band, and little or no fine barring, all of which marks them as dumb kids, not a real threat to mate or nest. Their plumage is essentially washed out, duller brown than ever before because it has been bleached by sun and rain for 10 months. They are in “grunge” plumage, designed not to attract a mate, establish territory, whatever. Over the course of the next ten months or so, they will gradually molt most of their feathers (at least body; not necessarily all flight feathers) and acquire their “red badge of courage,” visibly signaling that they are at least theoretically ready to take or seek a mate. Many may not mate that first year of adulthood, though not necessarily from lack of trying. (Ahh, those college days....)

Ruby, however, is not going to look much better than she does now. (Buzz would never suggest that, however.) She is at peak breeding plumage, or at least was several weeks ago. This plumage will fade with continuing exposure to sun and rain, abrasion from all those kids seeking shelter, etc., and handling juicy squirrel carcasses in a crowded nest. She should begin replacing primaries while she is spending all her time on the nest, incubating and then brooding young. That is, she is not placing much stress on her feathers through extensive flying or requiring heavy insulation. Males typically begin molting primaries while their mate is incubating when relatively little is required of the male compared to now, with 4 or 5 beaks to fill. If demands are heavy, the molt can be delayed for several months (Not consciously, but by lack of hormone to stimulate the molt).

I am not aware of any reports that a nesting pair of Red-tailed Hawks would tolerate a third adult in the nest, with two documented exceptions where two females shared a nest and a mate. There have also been documented incidents where a single male maintained two mates and young on separate nests. (More to come on E!) The closely related Common Buzzard in Europe is also known to be polygynous on a regular but uncommon basis.

Two other notes on plumage. Look at how richly barred Ruby is on her flanks and legs. Finely and delicately barred, not coarsely streaked like a kid. This really serves her well as she incubates and broods because it provides effective camouflage as she spends 98% of her days sitting exposed on a nest fully exposed to everything that happens by, including people going into “Whole Paycheck” to buy poultry. The camouflage is important in a tree nest where the leaves have not yet emerged (which they generally do as the young are larger and more obvious), but particularly important on a cliff or commercial building nest where everything is out in public view all the time. (Talk about 24-hour news cycles on cable...) Buzz, however, is much whiter than his mate. That is great when he is defending his territory during the offseason, or seeking to attract a mate early in the year. Now, however, it is a liability that can only attract attention to his exposed, vulnerable mate and young. Rest assured, he is usually in the area with his mate in view or calling distance, but he is not a flag signaling predators where to find their next meal. As the chicks grow older, noisier, and more visible, and their wash in the nest and the remnants of their feeding frenzies accumulate, Buzz spends much more time visibly associated with the nest, such as sitting on the apex of the Atrium in full view of 30,000 commuters. At that point, the benefits of his visibility outweigh the risks. He is signaling every potential predator that they wont get to those young, tender squawkers without going through him.



Monday, April 25, 2011

Nice photo, George. I'm pretty sure it's Ruby. Looks like you can even see a bit of her brood patch. B & R have a habit of sneaking in and out when you turn away - even for a second! -Susan

Ruby's eyes and Buzz's coloring

The hawk seems to have Ruby's yellow eyes and Buzz's dark head and further away it looked whiter. It wasn't huge like Lucy was last year. Anyone know why last years sib(assuming) would be in the nest while there are new chicks in there. Visiting home to raid the refrig? Required to do babysitting? Don't mind me, I'm just silly. Any ideas? George's photo of the family today looks like a twisted chistmas card. Almost divine and angelic. Maybe he will remember that around the holidays. -Hildy


Could that be Lucy// Could you look back in your old pictures of last year and see if those were her markings?? It looks like a mature hawk to me and not a yearling. Neat shot though and definitely a mystery. We may never know. -Vicki

mystery hawk

hawk mys. 4-25-11_8232 copy

well what do you think? are the hawks playing tricks on us? for a few minutes we had hawks coming and going at the same time? i have all sorts of pictures from the past two weeks and have found a better picture of the baby , but i like the one with the two parents in it(more feeling)ruby came in witha large evergreen branch . loks like she is building up the sides of the nest .i wonder what goesthrough thier minds? george

Sunday, April 24, 2011

about naming

Clearly, what we have here is a “failure to communicate.” Ernie’s email of Saturday indicates he still does not understand my objection to the names assigned. I fully appreciate the “benefits” of giving names to the chicks. I had no qualms with naming Buzz and Ruby (although Buzz has much more color and eyes like rubies than does his mate). The names of the chicks were determined fairly late in the process last year, and Ernie and John lucked out. “Lucy” clearly was a female, Larry likely a male, and Lucky was non-gender based and appropriate. He (or she) was lucky to survive.

The names selected this year were selected without any reference to the gender or nature of the birds, for purely personal motives. The birds were disregarded. Many wildlife-observation reporting organizations do not name young of the year for a variety of good reasons. Some do. Both side often have a “religious fervor” in their desire to name/not name wild animals. I don’t object to providing appropriate names. I “gave” my daughter a whale named “Salt” about thirty years ago. Salt turned out to be a female (not known when she was named) and to bear a number of calves and return to Massachusetts Bay for decades. We donated to whale research and followed Salt by newsletter and real-life trips hoping to see her. She didn’t answer to the name of Salt. It had no meaning for her. Only for people following her. She could have been named Pepper, or Puck. If she had been named Ernie, it would be a bit more difficult to explain or even tolerate. (Ernie gave birth to a 200 lb calf this spring...Ernie was nursing her calf....)

Some weeks ago I wrote Hildy and Ernie suggesting a naming protocol, hoping to avoid exactly what has occurred, which benefits no one. I didn’t suggest any names. Let the group do that. I Just recommended that the naming be done to a protocol.

First, if chicks exist and are going to be named, the names should not be gender specific, because you do not know the gender for some time. Ernie & John lucked out last year in that the gender appeared to be correctly correlated with the names they arbitrarily established (though you could not be absolutely sure about Larry), and Lucky was gender-neutral. But to give them gender-specific names before the gender is established does not seem particularly wise. E.g., what if “George” turns out to be a honking big female like Lucy. “Did you see George? She flew to Whole Foods with no trouble?”

Second, anyone arbitrarily naming chicks after people in the group can cause some resentment, and justifiably in my opinion. Also, who has the right or authority to grant an “honorific” name. Giving a chick a gender neutral name without any any connection to living persons in the group is more respectful of everyone in the group.

Third, it can cause considerable confusion. “I saw Hildy yesterday. She flew over to Neville Manor and ate a squirrel.”

And finally, what if the chick does not survive? “Ernie flew off the ledge this morning and was killed on Fresh Pond Parkway.” Not only will there be confusion, but there will be substantial negative “hangover,” for everyone, including the person “honored” by the naming. For example, if “Ernie” dies, choking on a squirrel bone in the nest, every mention of Ernie, whether of Ernie or the late hawk, will conjure up sad thoughts of the dead chick. Who would want that to happen?

There is one other issue. Don’t use diminutives. Don’t make them into toys, into house pets. Don’t name them like toy poodles or tea cup dogs. Everyone can name their own pet whatever name they want. These hawks are not your pets.

There is no no desire to call these birds C1, C2, etc., for as long as I follow them. I do that only because at first I want to track who is first hatched, second, etc., and without using the names the group has assigned. I You can ascribe non-gender specific names at any time. (Doesn’t that sound reasonable?) It seems to me gender-specific names should be assigned only when you know the gender. (Doesn’t that sound reasonable?) You know that for certain only by taking a blood sample, or by waiting until they are two years old or older and and seen copulating. Neither of those are very practical. (Gender is guessed according to size when banding chicks, if no blood/tissue samples are taken.) I won’t use G1, H1, and Y1 EXACTLY because that is using the names I object to. I don’t want to offer other personal names for the hawks in any post I would do because that would only cause confusion and perhaps ill-feelings.

I like and respect Ernie, Hildy and everyone in the group to much do that. I don’t want to cause any ill feeling. Therefore, my not posting is the simplest and quickest solution. I want everyone to appreciate something that is very beautiful and, though common, not commonly seen. It reveals something special in our world. It has me driving to Fresh Pond Mall every day after not going there much at all for 20 years. It opens up new worlds to people. Look at the people who have been going bird watching at Fresh Pond for the first time, or now discovered the joys of birding Mt. Auburn through John. Forty years ago my wife and I were hiking in the Middlesex Fells for exercise. We heard this bird call. To be sure we didn’t miss him, the bird repeated the call, note for note, every time. But we couldn’t see the XC$%#@&%. We bought a pair of binoculars, and a Golden Guide to birds. We finally saw the culprit, a Brown Thrasher, and our lives changed forever. Buzz, Ruby and the kids are doing that for more people than that Brown Thrasher could ever comprehend.

I have nothing to add to the naming discussion. Hopefully, now everyone will understand my objection to the names, even if they don’t agree with me. Anyone is free to respond to my statements online or offline. I am fine for you to have the last word. Preferably offline, to me directly, if at all, so the list can go back to reporting on and analyzing the adventures of a new family of hawks. A new generation is growing up before our eyes.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ruby the queen

ruby _the queen_3-19-11_6901 copy

this long winged beauty is 'ruby' "the worlds best mom" she is sitting on eggs and her freinds are all waiting with baited breath for this years surprizes. she is leaving the nest in this picture to go to her favorite place (i am not telling) and have a little lunch! (in her talons). enjoy the day, george mclean

Saturday, March 19, 2011

early morning light

i have always loved early morning light, it has a certain quality? i had been sitting from 6:30 a.m. when buzz took off. i have sharper images of him but i love the lighting on this remarkable bird. so please accept a gift from me at 7:00 a.m. sat ( i am an early bird). " enjoy the day', george mclean

Friday, March 18, 2011

sitting pretty

I just had a few minutes so I went by to check on the nest, and Ruby was there sitting pretty in spite of the gale force winds. So nice to see her back there! Amy

a neighboring red-tail

hamlet 3-14-11_6868 copy

here is 'hamlet " from 'mount auburn' cem. his mate 'ophelia' is sitting on eggs. his markings are different from "buzz" the red tail at 185. compare him and a look at the eye following me as i photographed him eating a vole. george mcean

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

another intruder

on sunday 3/13/11 this is one of the hawks that were driving the hawk ruby and buzz frantic by flying within ten feet of the nest. it was real small to be a 'red tail'? its wings slope back, and it moved real fast. any one have a clue? have a great day, george

hawk3-14-11_6799 copy

action at the nest

intruder hawk 3-14-11_6754 copy

over the week end there was all sorts of action. hildy and susan were there on sunday and the two parents were acting crazy. zooming in and out of the nest. they wre listening to hawks passing in the sky and went up to meet them . (click ) i got long shot of buzz with his talons down right over one of the offenders. then a young small juvinile wizzed by the nest(click) i got his picture.(red tail). i have so many picturesi am just putting them away and picking out the great ones. when the parents went back to the nest the second time they just stood there and listened.(click) this is the picture

susan said "look buzz has got his talons down"! i couldnt even see the hawks hovering over the buildings a half a mile away? i just started taking pictures of the dots in the distance? this took pace sunday afternoon for a few hours at 185 and again all we did was laugh and have fun. i confess they are responisble for the pictures . i think i am going blind ? all i could see was dots? oh so what keep moving and snapping!

i was quite surprised when i seen the results from the nikon, a shot from half a mile away, very good ! please take this picture ,and print it out or send it to a "hawker" it or to whom ever. remember "a thing of beauty is a joy to behold" g.mclean


Great shot, George! You know what? It almost looks like the second hawk is Ruby - which makes sense since they were both in the air chasing (?) the third hawk (which is not visible in this photo). I think it was right after you took this photo that Buzz flew back to the nest and Ruby kept after the third hawk, flying back behind 185. -Susan

buzz+ru aler.3-14-11_6769 copy

Monday, March 14, 2011

laying low

She was low in the nest about 3:40 PM today. I tried again at 4:30 and could barely make her out but thought she was still there. No sign of Buzz or any other hawks for that matter. I think she looks a little ‘fed up’ with this…!

a little stretch

ruby 3-14-11

Ruby was low in the nest at 2pm on Monday, the 14th, today. I went to Trader Joe's and came out as she had a little stretch...Was out about 3 minutes and then sunk back in.. This pic was taken around 2:30 today. Nancy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

intruding cooper's hawk

coop 3-13-11 185_6561 copy

i have been at 185 so many times i am losing track(easy for me)? this is the hawk that every one wanted to see that dived at the nest several times last week wed. or thu. i was waiting for buzz to come back or i wouldn't have got this picture he was so fast. ,george

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

doing things differently

Cantabridgians apparently love to do things differently. For example, if a Red-tailed Hawk female had laid an egg and was beginning incubation, you would expect the female to spend 90-95% of the day on the egg or eggs, incubating. Ruby might have spent the first night on the egg, but around 7:15 a.m., according to Susan Moses, Buzz replaced Ruby on the nest. Buzz remained on the egg and fussing about the nest until 9 a.m., when Ruby flew in. Both were in the nest briefly but then Ruby “assumed the position.” She fussed about the nest too, moving many smaller sticks around, and shifting her body frequently. She was obviously not quite comfortable. Another example was when I saw a middle-aged man with wire rim spectacles wearing a black English bowler, a narrow black tie, a conservative English suit, and a “man purse” (shades of Seinfeld). He looked like he had just gotten off at Alewife following a long “tube” ride from London! Maybe a 40-year ride; at least he looked like many Tory London businessmen I saw there 40 years ago! Only in Cambridge!

At 9:15, Buzz flew in from the south with a beak full of long strands of some vine. Dead vine, but it looked soft and more comfortable to sit on than some of the spruce branches in the nest! Ruby continued to work on the nest. When Buzz incubated, he tended to face the west wall, and his butt was often sticking up into the wind, showing off his white undertail coverts. Ruby, however, was constantly fidgeting. Those damn sticks just weren’t right, and she often faced into the moderate but cold east wind.

At 9:26 Ruby leapt from the nest and flew west. The nest and the presumed egg were totally exposed to the elements and anything else for 17 minutes, with no adult present.

At 9:43, Buzz returned to the nest, moved some sticks about, and began to incubate, facing west. This is not how it is normally, at least in my limited experience. With Rocco and Jolene in Medford, Jolene spent almost the entire day on the nest. She is a large, experienced mother to several generations of Redtails. Rocco would replace her relatively briefly, one or more times a day. She spent 90-95% of her time on the eggs. I was most aware of Rocco coming in in the afternoon and relieving her. It was like he came in and she went out to fly around the block and work the kinks out. She was never gone for very long. But today, Ruby spent very little of the morning on the nest, while Buzz took on more responsibility.

At 10:04, Ruby flew in. Buzz got up and took off, flying to the Social Security Building. (Trying to get a Social Security Number for the first egg?) At 10:19, the apparently moody Ruby left the nest again and flew towards the Social Security Building. Buzz then appears, flying in from Fresh Pond and goes into the nest, but six minutes later, he leaves and flies towards the Social security Building where Ruby is sitting and lands next to her. They then soared low around the building and over CVS, with Buzz doing a few stutter courtship flaps.

At 10:28 Buzz returned to the nest, faced the west wall, and shifted occasionally. His mate was nowhere to be seen. At 10:50, I left, with Buzz doing his filial duty, and perhaps we were both wondering what was egging Ruby!

NOTE: Yesterday I spoke with a man from Rhode Island (Richard??) who had purchased a camera to photograph the hawks should they nest again this year. He said his lady friend, Pat .... worked in the area and told him that Ruby was Buzz’s second mate. I took that to mean that Pat was saying Buzz had mated and apparently raised chicks with a different Red-tailed Hawk earlier. If anyone who reads this knows who Dick or Pat might be, please email me directly. Last year I thought it likely that it was Buzz and Ruby’s first year together, or their first year with young. This reference to “Pat’s opinion” is the first I’ve heard where someone might have closely followed the Redtail pair nesting across from the Shell station closely and could identify Buzz and his previous mate. I’d love to talk with “Pat.”


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

food deliveries

BUZZ 3. 8.118 BUZZ 3. 8.119

We’ve been seeing a lot of activity at the nest, which is a good sign. Buzz has been bringing in plenty of food for Ruby, to the point that she is not eating it all when he brings it in. Another good sign that suggests she has accumulated the nutrition and weight to lay eggs, a significant drain on her physically. Intriguingly, of the food deliveries I have seen, none have been birds or squirrels. Everything I’ve seen has been a vole (microtus sp)., presumably meadow vole. I impressed that Buzz is finding so many voles at this time of year and that he appears to be avoiding birds, especially pigeons, and squirrels.

I’d be grateful if observers who have binoculars when observing – or take photos of – food deliveries would attempt to record the species or prey type brought in, including when Ruby is incubating in the nest. (Photographers, even if it is a bad photo that you would never want to print, a bad photo can still indicate what prey was brought it.)

Voles are chubby balls of fur, with short legs and a short tail. They look chunky.

Mice (meadow mice, deer mice, house mice) have a longer, leaner look and a long tail (compared to voles)

Chipmunks may be leaving their dens any time now, but are substantially larger than the mice or voles.

Birds would generally be obvious by their long, bare legs dangling down (most obvious on chicks, for whom it is too soon). Pigeons would be very plump.

Squirrels should be pretty obvious, like a side of beef.

When feeding the three amigos last year, Buzz brought in primarily squirrels early, and then birds, especially young birds, with chipmunks fairly common, and several snakes. I do not recall seeing him bringing a pigeon. If anyone did, please let me know.

Voles and squirrels would be highly nutritious food for Ruby at this critical time. We have an unusual opportunity to document food preferences at this stage of courtship and breeding, so I encourage people to keep their eyes open and carry a little pen and notebook with them, or document in an email from the site. For those who don’t want to, I fully appreciate just wanting to enjoy the birds.

One final comment. Don’t take any of this for granted. Nothing is guaranteed with a hawk or hawk nesting. We were very fortunate last year. May Buzz and Ruby, and us, be as fortunate this year.




buz 3-8-11_6386 copy

Friday, March 4, 2011