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Update--June 1, 2009 12 pm

by Bob Sallinger


Posted on June 1, 2009 at 1:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

At least one of the fledglings has left the nest. The other is currently in the nest eating and to the best of my knowledge has not attempted flight. Both HAWKS at this point are capable of flying.

I am going to be gone for the next couple of days to Malheur Wildlife Refuge for a Conservation Planning Meeting. If there are any urgent concerns regarding the Raptor Cam Red-tails, please call Audubon at (503) 292-9501 and ask for Mary Coolidge or Karen Munday. Tell the receptionist that you are calling about the Raptor Cam Red-tails.

A couple of key things to remember as they go through the fledging process:

1) They MAY NOT return to the nest: They no longer need the nest for any purpose and many raptors never return to their nests after their first flight. The fact that you don't see them at the nest is not an indication that they are lost, injured or otherwise in trouble. It is completely normal.

2) Their movements will be erratic: They may spend several hours or even days in one area. They may also take to the air and fly long distances. The world is a new place to them and they will explore it at their own individual paces. They are already very well able to orient themselves and find their way around. Nestlings basically memorize the local landscape while they are in the nest and their are lots of big landmarks near the nest that will allow them to find their way around even if they fly large distances from the nest early on in the fledging process.

3) Mom and Dad may go many hours and sometimes even up to a day or two without visiting their young. The parents now have to keep track to two youngsters who are on the move. They will provide them with both food and guidance, but they will also leave them for extended periods. Oftentimes if you look around carefully you will realize that mom or dad is watching the young from a high perch. The young can go up to a day or two without being fed at this point and this often happens during the early part of fledging. The young may fly some distance from the nest and then just sit quietly and wait hours, sometimes even a day or two. When they get hungry enough, their stomachs will overcome their fears and they will return to the vicinity of the nest and begin calling for the parents.

4) The young hawks may come to the ground: They are exploring their world in three dimensions and that includes the ground. Don't be surprised if you see them practicing low flights or even walking around. There are of course hazards, but there are hazards everywhere...even in the most remote wilderness areas.

5) They will fly badly at first: Young raptors can often fly strongly early on, but do not have good control of their movements. As a result you will frequently see them miss their intended perches. On the downtown landscape you will see them flying into things and bouncing from perch to perch as they try to get a foothold.

6) IT IS USUALLY BEST TO LEAVE THEM ALONE! If you are concerned about a situation involving the red-tails call Audubon at (503) 292-9501 and ask for Karen or Mary. People often times try to interfere with fledging birds with the best of intention. Unfortunately many of these interventions actually increase the level of hazard for both people and the birds. Remember that birds all over our city are going through this same process. It can be hard to watch, but it is normal...and all landscapes, urban or otherwise, present hazards.