Garden News Blog

Young Hawks Learn to Fly

The family of red-tailed hawks nesting in BBG’s Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden this year has a milestone to celebrate—the young have fledged! Birder Ann Feldman has been observing and photographing the nesting pair and their offspring since spotting the two downy babies in their nest earlier this spring. Now the young birds have acquired juvenile feathers and have been spotted flying to two white pines near their nest by the narrow part of the pond. Here are some shots of them in action.

Sarah Schmidt edits BBG's Garden News Blog and the Guides for a Greener Planet handbook series.

Image, top:
One of the juveniles is seen in mid-air. Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) take about 42 to 48 days to reach the fledge stage, according the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Photo by Ann Feldman.
The baby hawks, or eyases, in late May. Their nest is in an Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) near the pond. Photo by Ann Feldman.
One of the juveniles roosts in a white pine (Pinus strobus). When it is about a year old, it will molt into its adult plumage. It’s at that point that it will acquire its red tail feathers. Photo by Ann Feldman.
One of the parent hawks with captured prey. Even after juvenile red-tailed hawks leave the nest, their parents continue to feed them for several weeks or months while teaching them to hunt. Their diet consists of small mammals, reptiles, or birds, depending upon what’s available. Photo by Ann Feldman.
Look out below! “Hawk chalk,” the telltale white uric acid that the birds excrete, is one clue that bird watchers use to find their subjects. It can be found on the ground and tree trunks where red-tailed hawks are active. Photo by Ann Feldman.