Nesting Red-tailed Hawk in Boston

June 30th and July 1st, 2010
Of the three chicks, there was the biggest one who started to flex its wings and hop on the railing first. The second one followed within a week. The third was little and 4 weeks late to even flapping its wings. I managed to get them all on the railing on the same day (July 1, 2010). While the older two were practicing pirouettes, the runt was happy to just get on the railing. You can notice even the hair on the head and the maturity of the wings is different in the runt. I tell the chicks apart by the pattern of the spots on their flanks.
Pictures of Boston Red-tailed hawk, Birds of Prey

The Hawk chicks are so much fun to watch. This was just before they started to hunt. In the cowling of the roof, there was a starling nest. The chicks looked in puzzlement as the birds flew in and out of the nest. Then one day I saw this hawk perched itself right next to the opening of the nest (the irregular triangular opening in the cowling). The poor starling waited on top all afternoon. I don’t know how this stand-off ended. Suffice to say, the starlings were not seen in the nest since. Pic from June 30, 2010.
Pictures of Boston Red-tailed hawk, Birds of Prey

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
I borrowed a 70-300 mm zoom lens from a friend (Thank you!) So here are a few closeups of the Hawk Chicks. They have been growing by the day!
Pictures of Boston Red-tailed hawk, Birds of Prey

They are learning to fly from railing to railing; so much fun to watch … and they don’t falter.
Boston Red-tailed hawk
Boston Red-tailed hawk
Boston Red-tailed hawk
Pictures of Boston Red-tailed hawk, Birds of Prey
Boston Red-tailed hawk

Mr Father stopped by for a few minutes (band on rt foot). Notice how attentively all the chicks are looking at him. A great family shot; wish Ms Mom was here too.
Boston Red-tailed hawk

Here is a closeup of Mr Father Hawk. He checked on his chicks and was gone in less than a minute.
Pictures of Boston Red-tailed hawk, Birds of Prey

Monday, June 21th, 2010
The father hawk came by, quickly checked out the nest and flew away. he was on the rail for about 30 secs.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston
Here’s the father hawk surveying the city from his perch on a nearby building.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Friday, June 18th, 2010
I heard this baby call out to its mother. Very sharp, more like a shrill cat’s meow. It gave about 4-5 calls and then kept looking west from where the father/mother typically appeared.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Love seeing them chilling out together on the rails. By now, I think they know me by name.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

In this series, one of the hawks is stretching and trying out its new wings. What a magnificent sight! The wingspan must have been about 5 ft across. To think that five weeks ago they were mere fuzzy-haired chicks. Simply Amazing!
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
One of the baby hawks on the rail enjoying the breeze. Xe was steady there.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Tempted by a small bird sneaking into a hole in the roof. Soon! 🙂
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

One of the others in the nest was flopping its wings and practicing flying.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

All siblings
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

Two Sisters!
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Boston

For Father’s Day, My Tribute to Mr Hawk for taking care of his young ones!
This morning, the male (father) stopped by the nest, dropped off something, hung around on the rails for a few minutes and then flew away.

What a magnificent bird. It appears the chicks are nearly as large as the adult male. Two of the bigger birds in the nest appear to be female. The third is a smaller male (?) Any experts here? I also notice the father has a band on its right foot.

I gather from the comment by Kim (see comments) and from eye witnesses, that the mother hawk (seen in the earlier pics) was killed on Parkman St last Friday June 10th. She was apparently chasing a pigeon when she ran into a commercial truck and died on the spot. So sad. What a majestic bird she was.

Rest in Peace, Mrs Hawk!
Hope you come back into this world as a more majestic bird, lead a full life and enjoy the complete joys of motherhood.

What is more amazing? That this father is regularly bringing food to the nest for his young ones. He doesn’t hang around, or cuddle with them, but drops off the food and flies away. What a great guy!
On this Father’s Day, Wishing you the very best, Mr Hawk!

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Male Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Male Boston

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Male Boston

I think he spied me in the window.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Male Boston

Then flew away (sorry, blurry pic)
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Male Boston

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
I returned from Mumbai and was glad to see the hawk chicks still in the nest. For a couple of days, I did not see the mother hawk come back and was worried the chicks were abandoned. Then Wednesday am I saw the chicks were eating something bloody. And importantly, the chick had grown tremendously and were about 75% the size of an adult hawk.

Here are a few pics of the baby hawks (apparently baby hawks are called eyas!) feeding what may have been a pigeon. Scroll down to compare these pics with those of the baby chicks about three weeks younger. Amazing, no?

Boston Red-tailed hawk, Chicks

In the nest one of the baby hawks is stretching out its wings.I think the wings are growing by the day and the babies are simply fascinated at this plumage.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Chicks

I think one of the babies spotted me in the window.
Boston Red-tailed hawk, Chicks

May 23rd, 2010
For the last few weeks, a red-tailed hawk has been nesting on the fire-escape of an adjacent, nearly abandoned building. It was fascinating to see the mother stand guard, go hunting and feed the young ones. Every few minutes I’d check the window to see what was up with the hawk. Finally brought my camera in and had the buildings guy open the window, so I could take some pics. Enjoy.

From her perch on the railings, the mother keeps a sharp eye. Last week, I could barely see the tops of the chicks head in the nest, now I can see them bobbing around. Its a huge nest and takes up the entire landing on the fire escape.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

With the largest of the chicks. For a sense of scale, the chick is about the size of an adult pigeon. The hawk IS huge.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

Once every few hours, the mother goes hunting and swoops down on starlets, pigeons or squirrels. She cleans the meat and feeds the three chicks in turn. Surprisingly while feeding, the chicks are always arrayed in a triangle, are well behaved and don’t fight with each other.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

More feeding.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

I think the mother spied me in the window. Better call it a day.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

Don’t miss these Bald Eagles I was lucky to take pics of in Seward Alaska.

Here, the biggest chick is trying to stretch its wings. Click image to see a larger picture.
Boston, red-tailed hawk, Chicks

45 thoughts on “Nesting Red-tailed Hawk in Boston

Add yours

  1. These predators are absolutely splendid! They have become the official representatives of the MGH neurosurgery department.

    1. Polly, those pics are beautiful and priceless;

      I can download a couple of pics from that album – but first I need you to reply here and say it is OK for me to download and use the pics here. Do I say, they are your pics or John Li’s. just to clarify.

      Again, amazing these hawks. I think the entire MGH community is going Hawk Gaga!


  2. We have been following the Hawk family here at Whittier Place the 3 of them hung out yesterday in our courtyard. They appear very calm around humans and city noise. One of them I have named “Longfellow” stayed close and allowed us to observe him figure out what squirrels are all about. I have some great up close pics. I am so glad you have been documenting this family.

    1. Hi Polly:
      Thank you for the update.
      They have been missing from the nest and I haven’t see them here in weeks 😦 But I have seen a couple of them in the Bullfinch courtyard.

      Good to hear they are in your part of the woods. I think the father hawk used to bring squirrel to the nest, so they may be eyeing the squirrel with a meal in mind.

      If you don’t mind sharing 1 or 2 of the pics you have, I would like to post them here and give due credit to you. Let me know.

      Enjoy the hawks – they are amazing.

  3. I love what you’ve done here… such a beautiful story you’ve told through pictures. I’ll definitely be sharing with friends. My sincere thanks!

  4. Oh yeah the initial setting allowed only Google account, I have enabled the comments logging for OpenIDs now. The other day when you mentioned I thought that the error could be something with the server. Try commenting now and let me know if you face any issues.

    The baby eagles look majestic just like their parents. In few more days they will fly away and all that will be left behind is the empty nest :(.

  5. Thanks for this wonderful developing story Arun.

    Hope that balcony becomes empty for good reason very soon – at least for some time 🙂

  6. Oh… it is sad to know that the mother eagle died 😦 . It is touching to see the father eagle feed it’s young ones… btw.. the eggs that the bird lay at my home hatched.. but a tragedy here too.. after some days of hatching the chicks vanished 😦 . not sure what happened to them…

    Ps: updated my blog with the story…

    1. Thank you Poornima,
      yeah, sad about the mother. My heart fills up just thinking of it.
      (see just posted NEW pics).

      BTW, tried to leave a comment on your blog and no luck – can you ‘permit’ OpenID type accounts such as WordPress etc. Many other friends who have blogspot accounts have other options during leaving a comment and it seems to work. let me know.

      For your chicks, I think it is likely the cat, particularly when the chicks are on the ground or near. Sad.


  7. Unfortunately, I believe the mother was killed 6/9/10, when she hit a truck chasing a pigeon on Bowdoin Street. The dad has been providing all food for 10 days and doing a good job.

    1. OMG! No doubt, I don’t see her;
      but a hawk comes by and drops off food!.

      They are amazing Hawks.

      BTW, contact me offline if you want to come by and take a closer look at the nest.

  8. One of the babies fledged yesterday. This morning another one is on the rail getting ready. Actually there are now 2 on the rail side by side. Kim

    1. Thank you Kim for the update!

      Yes, I have been monitoring them from my window every day; Just did not get the time to post all the pics.
      I only saw one of them on the rail, but the other was itching to go.

      They are ready to start to fly, am waiting for mother (or father) to come and take them on their first flight :-))
      Have my camera here and ready to capture them.

      Will post the new pics this weekend.

  9. I take pleasure viewing this bird and occasionally the chicks, from the ground on my way to & from the T. Thank you for documenting this new urban family. What a treat for us in our urban landscape.

    1. Tom:
      Thank you for checking on the birds. I’m currently in Mumbai and unable to see their progress.
      But I’ll be back in a few days and hope to see the chicks thriving.

      Yes! What a treat.

  10. I love seeing these. I work at MGH. What building are they on? I live in Norwell, and there is a lot of wildlife that crosses my yard every day – deer, owls, flying red squirrels, will turkeys and their chicks. I have my own little zoo. Thanks so much for sharring!

    1. Hi Marilyn:
      thank you for your comment; Amazing that you have a liitle wildlife track in your yard. My 2-year old Meera would love it ha ha!

      Do you know where the Bike cage is next to the Parkman Garage? Look behind the bike garage and you will see this 4-storey brick building. To the left (facing away from the Parkman Garage) is the firescape and the hawk has taken over the topmost landing. From the st, stand in the driveway where the valet cars come out and look up … and Enjoy!

      Am currently in Mumbai, India and unfortunately cannot provide the latest update on the hawks and chicks!

      Enjoy Summer.

  11. You have made my day Arun! I just loved reading this post. Our townhouse complex has a few houses (including ours) with a stone facade. Sparrows just love building their nests in the nook between the stones that are covered by the window shutters (those decorative shutters do seem to have one real use). This means that it is non stop entertainment for R n R when they wake up to all the chirping and gives us a few more minutes in bed. Isn’t it just fascinating to watch them!

    1. Thank you Sudeepta, and so great to hear that R&R are doing well. You prolly already learn’t this – With Meera I seem to be enjoying and looking forward to the smaller joys in life. A cat meowing here, a bird chirping there, a dog walking, a cow chewing and a ghoDa gaadi struting. She derives so much fun.

      Its fascinating to see this giant hawks which rule the skies, being so domestic and taking care of the young ones. And importantly, they seem to have adapted to the urban jungle. What joy!

      Here in Mumbai, I hardly see any sparrows now ~ they are being decimated by rampant cutting of trees, pollution and lack of nesting spots. So it is particularly great to see you have some right outside your home.

      Enjoy the Summer; once M&Meera come to Boston, we should get together.

      Best Wishes

    1. Yaay!
      Aren’t they amazing!

      BTW, Am away for a few more weeks, so please do keep me updated if you see anything spectacular.
      Thank you for commenting here.


  12. How beautiful!! We get few little birds nesting in our garage too, they keep attacking us if we go near our cars! 😀

    Glad they are Hawks like this one.

    1. Thank you Asha for taking the time.

      Nests in your garage? Does that mean you have to leave the garage door open? so the birds can get in and out.

      mothers usually don’t like other coming near their nests. Its funny though to see them buzzing you 😉

      Yes, The Hawks are sooo majestic.

  13. Hey what a co-incidence!!! Recently two birds have built a nest at my place and just yesterday i blogged about it. And today I see a similar post here 🙂 . The chicks look cute.
    Thank you for the lovely post.

    1. Thank you Poornima:

      BTW, was trying to leave a comment on your site, but it did not permit me. Ask you neighbors and they may know which birds generally are present in your neighborhood; also, don’t go too near the nest, or the bird may disown it, or even destroy the nest.


    1. Its particularly fascinating to see this majestic Hawk so up close. They seem to be adapting well to the urban jungle.

      My only hope (and prayer) is that no jerk tries to go up that fire escape.

      Best Best

  14. Love the pics, especially the one where mom gives you a stare, haha!
    Nice to see some good people still enjoy the little magical moments life presents us everyday!

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