Hawk Cam: chicks in the snow

April 23, 2012 • 5:23 am

It’s snowing in Ithaca, and the Cornell Hawk Cam shows the female red-tailed hawk, “Big Red” sitting on her brood while covered with snow.   One chick has hatched already and is vocalizing, and there are two more to go (perhaps one of those has hatched as well).

No worries: even though it’s snowing, it’s warm under the mother.

A screenshot:

Of course the birds have evolved to sit on their eggs regardless of weather or their own personal discomfort (those who didn’t left no offspring), but somehow the endurance of this bird invokes in me feelings of solicitude towards Big Red.

12 thoughts on “Hawk Cam: chicks in the snow

  1. This reminds me of the excellent BBC series Planet Dinosaur I just watched last weekend. Several Gigantoraptor females sitting on their eggs were unearthed in China. They refused to leave the nests even in heavy sandstorms and were consequently buried alive with their eggs beneath them. The behavior of this female hawk can be traced back to the age of the dinosaurs.

      1. Oh yes; depends on the species. Maples just coming out now, some other types are full out and suffering for it. The ones that were hardest hit, I’m not sure what type they were.

  2. “No worries: even though it’s snowing, it’s warm under the mother.”

    But, it may not remain so if the worst happens. No adaptation is perfect and physical conditions cause a great deal of wildlife mortality every year. This late wet snow is likely a severe stress on both parent birds and while they’ll probably make it, they may not. The trees are well-adapted too, millennia of selection for strength and resilience of branches, but Ivy reports that limbs are being broken by current conditions. Hawks can be “broken” too.

  3. The bald eagles that nest near Patricia Bay, BC (usually called the “Sidney” eagles after a nearby town) have demonstrated this avian tenacity several times.

    Their nest is 100′ up in an old Douglas fir and when there are high winds, it sways back and forth like nobody’s business. Several years ago, Ma was on the eggs during a windstorm, Pa had taken shelter somewhere else, and Ma wanted off the eggs: “Squawk! Squawk! Where is that man o’ mine? Squawk! Squawk! Come relieve me!”

    Pa stayed put for the duration, as did Ma. Must’ve wanted to pee really badly.

    And there’s at least one photo of Ma on the eggs with snow on the nest and on her.

    Talk about fortitude!

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