More Answers on Baby Hawks
Boo and Scout, the baby hawks in the Hawk cam nest above Washington Square Park, are now 17 and 18 days old, and have gone from round-headed snow-white fluffy balls to slightly grayish creatures plush covered dinosaurs. Now that they’re too big for Mom Hawk Rosie to sit on, the couple have more airtime on the Hawk Cam.
When not face down in the nest in postprandial sleep, the two line up to take chunks of meat from their mother’s beak, sometimes nudging each other aside and sometimes when mom is away. , pecking at rodents and avian. corpses themselves. As the days go by, they will do more and more of themselves.
We asked NYC Audubon to answer a few questions about raptor children.
What is Boo and Scout’s diet and how do their parents prepare food for them?
In the first four to five weeks after hatching, the adult female tears up small pieces of prey for the chicks to eat. Prey is made up mostly of rats, pigeons, and squirrels here in New York City. Once the chicks are older, the prey will be deposited whole in the nest to tear and feed. Prey is usually delivered to the chicks 10 to 15 times a day, from just before sunrise to just after sunset. Most of the hunting is done by the male, while the female takes care of the young on the nest. At the start of the nesting period, adults remove unused prey from the nest within one day of feeding. However, later the household is somewhat relaxed and old carcasses can accumulate in the nest.
What is “slicing” and how exactly does it work?
“Slice” is a term used by falconers to describe the way a falcon defecates. Falcons, and all birds, don’t have solid poo and liquid pee like mammals do. Birds save weight by not having a bladder. The waste they excrete comes in the form of urates and uric acid, the crystals that make white birds ‘poo’. Birds have an opening – the cesspool – from which waste and (in females) eggs exit the body. Some chicks defecate in small packages called fecal sacs. Parents will pick them up and remove them from the nests. Young birds of some species defecate in the nest. Falcons forcefully eject their feces, pulling them some distance from the nest to keep things hygienic. This process is called slicing. The splashes that have partially obscured the Hawk Cam’s image in recent days are the products of this process, stuck to the window behind which the camera is installed.
When will they start to fly?
The eyes of the red-tailed hawk will begin to grow flight feathers from about three weeks old. Over the next few weeks, they will start to jump, but don’t expect the eyes to start flying out until about week six after they hatch. For Pale Male and his companions, their chicks took 44 to 52 days between hatching and fledging. During the first weeks after fledging, the eyes are “branched” – perched inconspicuously in the lower branches. During this time, they will always be actively fed by their parents, as they will learn to fly and hunt on their own.
How long will it take for the chicks to become independent from their parents?
Young red-tailed hawks can be dependent on their parents until they are about 15 weeks old, when the parents will stop responding to the young begging calls. During the first two weeks, they are unable to catch their own food and are not yet able to fly steadily. Meanwhile, when not in hiding, they beg loudly and chase their parents for food. Young people will stay in their parents’ territory for 30 to 70 days, before migrating.
What are their chances of survival?
From hatching to fledging, the chances of survival are quite good: more than 70% survive until fledging. After that, however, survival rates plummet. More than half of all eye diseases perish within the first year and 20% die each year thereafter, based on back banding data. Only a few birds in a thousand will survive beyond a dozen years.
Preston, CR and RD Beane. (May 18, 2009). Red-tailed Hawk: reproduction. The Birds of North America Online, (052). Accessed Tuesday, April 10, 2012.