Friday, June 21, 2013

And the last shall be first - #3 is first to fledge!

The short version: at 4:50pm on Thursday, June 20, the first eyass fledged from the Franklin Institute nest, and much to all hawkwatchers' surprise, it was #3.  He flew first to the portico roof of the Franklin Institute farther down Winter Street where he became briefly caught in the bird netting.  #3 escaped from the netting and then flew strongly in a semi-circle back towards the nest, landing two window ledges away. Eventually, he left the ledge and flew over to T2's tree and remained there as night fell.

I have never seen such strong, controlled flying from a newly fledged eyass.  Usually, they flail around, struggle to gain/maintain height, crash-land into trees, and can barely steer.  Not #3 - he flew beautifully with great control, and seemed quite able to choose a landing spot and successfully alight.

So here's the long version - Kay Meng and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Board Room Thursday afternoon to take what we imagined might be the final pictures of all three eyasses on the nest.  At 2:00pm all three of them were lying lethargically on the ledge and nest.  No wingercizing, no ledge hopping, no flap-jumping -- nothing but three napping eyasses.  And no sign of Mom or T2.

Over the next couple of hours, the two older eyasses became a little more active, pecking at bugs, walking around the ledge a bit, climbing in and out of the nest.  But #3 lay in a pile of feathers on the nest barely moving.  I had really hoped to be able to get a picture of #3's ankles and feet to see if we could get a determination on whether it is a male or female, but he didn't stand up for over two hours!

At 4:30pm, the older eyasses were starting to flap and jump quite vigorously, so Kay decided to go down outside to street level and photograph them from the front.  I stayed up in the Board Room hoping to get that shot of #3's feet.

Finally, at about 4:40pm he stood up, climbed off the nest and joined the other two on the ledge.  #3 is on the right with the darker tail.  The white/gray speckles all over the picture are the splatters on the window from their slicing.  This is the last time I saw all three together on the ledge.

            Della Micah


At 4:43pm, #3 stood calmly on the right, just hanging out, while the other eyass could not get close enough to the window to see what I was up to - probably wondering whether my tiny point-and-press was really a camera!

            Della Micah


Almost immediately, #3 turned around and climbed back onto the nest, and stood looking out to the right.  I took another picture of his unusually dark tail at 4:45pm, never imagining that this would be the last few minutes before he fledged.

            Della Micah


It had only been about ten minutes since #3 had been flat out on the nest napping away the afternoon. I wasn't really paying much attention as he started flapping and then jumped up a couple of times near the front of the nest close to the window wall.

The is the final image of #3 on the nest, nimbly captured by Tess Cook, seconds before he left the nest.

                   Tess Cook


Quicker than I could realize what I was seeing, #3 then jumped up and out, flapped strongly, maintained height, and flew off to the right and out of my sight.

I could not believe what I had just seen, and the remaining two eyasses looked equally stunned.  I called Kay (who had just arrived down below on Winter Street) and she quickly looked around and located #3 perched in the angled corner of the portico roof on the Winter Street side of the Franklin Institute.

            Kay Meng


Here is that facade, and the angled corner is on the left hand point of the triangle above the lettering that  says "The Franklin Institute."  #3 was perched above the first T.  As you look across this image, the row of windows under the balustrade has the nest window right at the end, but out of sight on this image (which is from last fall).

           Franklin Institute


You can see here the nest window at the end of that row.  So #3 flew in a large semi-circle out from the nest, and most unusually for a fledging flight, actually gained height to reach the portico ledge.

                       Google Maps


It soon became apparent that #3 was not perching comfortably because the soft bird netting that covers most of the historic buildings in Philadelphia was preventing him from settling into the ledge.

            Kay Meng


Vigorous wing flaps did not help.

            Kay Meng


            Kay Meng


He started to edge along, perhaps hoping that as the angle opened up, he might find it easier to get a good perch.

            Kay Meng


This eyass is nothing if not persistent, and would not give up.

            Kay Meng


            Kay Meng


Then it became apparent that "Houston, we have a problem."

            Kay Meng


#3 had caught his talons in the netting, and could not get free.

            Kay Meng


So much for a quiet afternoon and an easy first flight....

            Kay Meng


...this intrepid young hawk had a talonful of trouble.

            Kay Meng


Just as things started to appear rather desperate for #3...

            Kay Meng


... he managed to extricate himself from the netting...

            Kay Meng


... and accomplished another excellent flight away from that pesky portico, and back towards the nest, landing smoothly on a window ledge two over to the left from the nest as you look up.

            Kay Meng


Here's a wider view with the twins on the nest, and #3 on the ledge of the window on the far left.

            Pamela Raitt


For a while, #3 sat quietly, then lay down and seemed to take a nap!

            Kay Meng


Meanwhile, Mom had been watching all of this from the top of her green neon circle behind the Barnes Museum.

            Carolyn Sutton


She decided it was time to check in with #3, and flew to the roof immediately above.

            Kay Meng


#3 woke up, and contemplated his situation...

            Kay Meng


... sitting quite calmly watching all the excited hawkstalkers down below!

               Kevin Vaughan


The ever-dutiful T2 arrived with a dinner rat for the remaining eyasses...

            Kevin Vaughan


He was able to quickly drop-and-fly as the ravenous eyasses fell upon the rat frantically trying to mantle each other away from it.

            Kay Meng


He flew over to his tree and watched for a while.  The parent hawks are exquisitely tuned in to what is happening to their eyasses, whether fledged or still on the nest.  They will make sure everyone gets fed wherever they are, and over the next few weeks will induct the eyasses into hunting their own prey.

                               Kay Meng


Once the feeding frenzy abated, both parents flew in to the nest, and the party of four dined together.

                   Tess Cook


No dinner for #3, however, as he paced along the ledge two windows over.

            Kay Meng


This remarkably precocious, resourceful eyass then decided it was time to leave the ledge, and head for a nearby tree.

            Kay Meng


#3 proved that his first two flights were no flukes.  Once again he took off strongly and flew straight and true to T2's tree, picked a branch...

             Pamela Dimeler


... made a perfect landing...

             Pamela Dimeler


... and settled in for the night.

             Pamela Dimeler


Once again, I have to note how remarkable these first flights were by the youngest, smallest eyass.  I can still hardly believe that #3 was lying flat out on the nest from 2:00pm - 4:40pm, and ten minutes later was airborne, landing, extricating itself from netting, flying and landing again on a ledge, and then heading into a tree.  At no point did he ever lose height which is really unusual.  Most eyasses on their first flights go lower than the nest, sometimes right to the ground, and have difficulty getting up to a safe place.  Experienced hawkstalkers have vivid memories of escorting fledged Franklin eyasses across streets, through traffic, along sidewalks, trying to keep them safe till they get themselves off the ground and into bushes and trees where they are much safer.

No such problems for #3!  What a standard T2's first fledgling has set for the other older two!  This short video shot by Pamela Dimeler on Thursday evening shows him flying from the ledge to the tree.  The noise is the incessant din of the passing traffic down below on the Vine Street expressway.





It is hard believe that just two weeks ago (June 7) this intrepid flyer, #3, looked like this!

            Kay Meng


An amazing, excellent hawk.  God speed, little guy.

The other two will not be far behind, and then starts the nail biting time as they all make their way into the world.  That is when we hawkstalkers on the ground go into high gear to keep you posted on all that's happening once they leave the nest.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks, again, for this wonderful update and the fantastic photos showing our little family from the real world. Awesome!

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  2. WOW..what a nice Birthday present for me. I'm glad #3 did so well. Our D3 at Cornell did well also. I LOVE RTH. Thanks for sharing.
    luanesch in KY

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    Replies
    1. Happy birthday!! Lovely time of the year, and a really long day!

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  3. THANKS TO ALL THE HAWKSTALKERS FOR THEIR "WORK" & DEDICATION!! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!

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  4. Thanks for all you do to get these wonderful blogs to us FI hawk fans, Della. They are a source of enjoyable reading both at the time, and during the long winter as we await the return of the FI hawks. Thank yous to everyone who contribute to this blog!

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    Replies
    1. Tess, you're one of the contributors with your terrific screen captures from the nest - they add a lot to the narrative.

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  5. I love your blog Sunny. Your writing is so detailed and full of warmth for your subjects. Your photographers are great too. Each picture looks so professional.

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  6. So exciting! Who would have thought it would have been #3? Praying for a safe future for this beautiful bird. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  7. Thanks Della! A very captivating account of Brave # 3! Our peanut! Godspeed indeed to all of the eyasses!

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