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Monday, June 6, 2011

Out On a Limb: Red-shouldered Hawks Branch Out

Since my last blog entry on the Red-shouldered Hawk chicks a week ago, the babies have continued to grow, and have become much more active. At this time, 6 June, 2011, I would guess that these chicks are approximately six weeks of age now, give or take a few days since they presumably hatched on different days.

On June 2, I was able to view all three chicks in the nest from the road with my scope. They were quite large, but yet, at times they could hunker down low enough in the nest that they were not well seen.

On June 3, one check spent some time peering over the nest, and was quite alert and attentive to its surroundings. Much of the time, the hawk chicks were quiet, but they were observed by Catharine, the homeowner, and myself to be stretching their wings quite often, and shuffling around in the nest much more than previously noted.

Red-shouldered Hawk chicks on June 3, 2011....Approximately five weeks of age, and still in the nest
I haven't heard any vocalizations while visiting, but the chicks do yawn quite a bit
June 3, 2011

Over the weekend of June 4 and 5th, Catharine reported the chicks had been seen leaving the nest, creeping out to close by branches and just sitting.

On Monday, June 6, the chicks are getting bolder. Two of the three are on branches still within the large oak tree their nest resides in, but more than 20 feet away from the nest. One sits quite high, and is flying from branch to branch, practicing flight.
Red-shouldered chick spreads its wings and tail and practices short flights from limb to limb...
June 6, 2011

All of the chicks are noticed to be preening quite a bit. They all seem alert to their environment, and the two that are out on limbs seem quite comfortable with their new posts.
The chicks are now the same size as their parents. Their immature plumage seems to be fully in, at least on the two chicks that are out on a limb. June 6, 2011

The third chick must be the youngest. It still sits quite close to the nest, and hops back and forth into the nest. It's level of confidence seems much less than its siblings.
This one also appears to have some downy feathers still peeking through in places. Since the eggs hatch on different days, this chick could be several days behind in maturation.
Presumed youngest chick watches the others apprehensively, keeping close to the nest in security
June 6, 2011

Within the next several days, there will likely be more changes in behavior, and in the distance the young will travel from the nest.
It is exciting to watch them change and grow, and yet sad to know they could soon be tougher to locate around the neighborhood. Catharine and Mark and their kids, who have enjoyed this family of young hawks in their oak tree, will be sad to see them leave. But there is hope the parents will return next year, and that they will reuse the same nest.

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