Connecting you with nature
There was some sad news from the red-shouldered hawk nest. Based on accounts from residents who live in the building next to the nest location, on May 1, the adult male was found hanging from a tree. It appears he was tangled in netting or fishing line. He was rescued. What this means is that the adult female was the only one looking after the young. When I visited on May 2, the female was in the nest and then eventually flew off. She perched near the nest and called for her mate for close to an hour. Of course, he didn't show up. Unless the adult male is well enough to be released, this very sad turn of events greatly lowers the survival chances for these young hawks. (keep reading...!!)
My April 30 blog post shared several risks that many raptors face, including red-shouldered hawks. The events of the last few days reveal another -- birds getting entrapped in fishing line or netting. Many wildlife rehabilitators and conservation groups have written about these risks and documented tragic, often fatal injuries wildlife receive from improperly discarded fishing line or netting. Here's a few links on this issue for further reading: Wildlife Center of Virginia: https://www.wildlifecenter.org/fishing-tackle-threats-wildlife; Audubon: https://www.audubon.org/news/this-common-form-plastic-pollution-menace-birds; Owl Moon Raptor Center: https://owlmoon.org/2017/09/29/great-horned-owl-rescued-from-entanglement-in-fishing-line/; US Fish and Wildlife Service: https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/threats-to-birds/entrapment-entanglement-drowning.php .
May 3rd was my last visit to the nest site and really good things were happening! Within a few moments of my arrival in late afternoon, the female showed up with a large prey item (possibly a large rat). Her young babies perked up and began feeding. I could see through my lens that the young already had very full crops, which meant they were already well fed. If you're unfamiliar with the term "crop", it's a muscular pouch near the throat, which is part of the digestive tract. In birds, and other organisms that have a crop, it's used to temporarily store food.
More, really good news, happened on May 4. I posted a video I shot of the hawk family feeding and was informed through a Facebook comment that the injured male was released. I'm thrilled.
I'll be back at the nest in a few days and with more updates!
Enjoy these photos of mom and babies from May 3, 2020.