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Red-tail Update and Happy Earth Day

by Bob Sallinger


Posted on April 22, 2009 at 7:05 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

Raptor cam is now receiving upwards of 10,000 hits/day! It would be great if every person watching maybe could do one cool things for the birds today on Earth Day. Red-tailed Hawk populations are doing quite well but about 25% of bird species in Oregon and across the nation are experiencing significant long term declines. Go to the following link to learn more about how you can help the birds:

Please Blog back and tell us what you did.

We are also going to add a new feature down in the right hand corner of the website called "Bird of the Week" that tells you a bit about some other birds of prey in our city and the challenges they face. Check it out.

The two nestlings are now eight and nine days old. The third eggs remains unhatched in the nest. Odds are are minimal that it will hatch at this point. Red-tailed hawks take their first flight between 43-48 days of age so these chicks are already about 1/6th of the way through the nestling stage. They are already able to move about the nest a bit and orient themselves towards the nest edges when they defecate (poop). It is hard to see at this point but their contour feathers and flight feathers are already starting to emerge beneath a thick layer of down. Each day the chicks are increasingly able to regulate their own body temperature and the females will do less and less brooding. Even when you can't see them however, the parents are always close by--they are fiercely protective of their young from potential predators.

Mom and dad are feeding the chicks a steady diet of pigeon which seems to be the main staple of their diet at this site with an occasional rats thrown in for variety.

See latest photos of feeding

Red-tails actually eat a wide array of prey species. A compilation of 11 Red-tailed Hawk studies in the book, Hawks, Eagles and Owls of North America by Johnsgard showed that mammals average about 68% of their diet, birds averaged 17.5% of their diet and reptiles and amphibians (mostly snakes) averaged about 7% of their diet and invertabrates averaged about 3.2% (the remaining points are "other"). There is however significant variation from bird to bird and site to site. Based on what we are seeing with this pair it looks like the vast majority of their diet is city pigeon (rock dove) which which makes sense since they are super common in downtown Portland.

One final note: Thanks to Abby Haight who did a nice story in the Oregonian this morning. To read on line go to:

Happy Earth Day!