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Ruby and Brood Update

Through this now famous red-winged hawk family, I have met the nicest man named Andy. I first met him when I walked up to a guy looking into a big black camera with a telephoto lens longer than my leg. He kindly offered to lower the tripod so I could see, and when I peered in it was as if I’d dropped into the hawks’ nest to say howdy.

I raved so much Andy volunteered to snail mail me some of his better pictures. I gave him my address, thinking he probably, like the rest of us, would get too busy and forget or not have the time. But here they are: fabulous pictures!

Lucy Profile

The littlest chick ,born several days after the second and perhaps ten or more days after the first, has had us worrying, would the baby survive? By now s/he’s been named, as have all the chicks, in a naming contest held by Ernie Sarro on his CCTV station. Here is beautiful, undaunted Lucky in profile.

Here s/he is showing his mettle, testing her wings by pumping iron, so to speak, as all the chicks have been doing preparatory to the day, perhaps this very weekend, when they will need those muscles to take their first flights.

Lucky testing wings

Lucky still has a lot more baby down than siblings Lucy and Larry. Behind them all appears the watchful momma, Ruby. Poppa Buzz is probably off hunting to help feed the ravenous brood.

Lucky in front, downy white, Lucy and Larry and Ruby behind

Speaking of food, here goes Ruby, most likely in search of food herself. She and Buzz have worked hard and faithfully to bring in enough food that the little ones seem not to have to fight over morsels. In this incredible picture you can clearly see the light glowing through the auburn feathers that earned this type of hawk its name.

Ruby flying out of nest showing red tail

If you’re enjoying these updates, or getting sick of them, please comment and let me know. Meantime, you can see Ernie’s latest video of the family at Red-tail Chicks Ready to Fly.

And Andy Provost, thank you, thank you, thank you!


Update on Ruby, Buzz and the Chicks

Our local red-tailed hawk family of my previous post have made it onto local news stations and now regularly draw a crowd. People stand in the parking lot of the shopping center with their binoculars, kids and curiosity to watch the comings and goings of this new family.

Check out the latest video and pictures on this site:  Alewife Redtails Update

Meanwhile, use your hawk-sight to keep an eye turned toward the long-view and bigger picture emerging in your own lives . . .




Watch Like a Hawk

Right now hawks are raising their young.

I’ve been aware of hawks, especially red-tailed hawks, since my tenth wedding anniversary when we celebrated with a trip to Sedona, Arizona. We signed up for a day trip to a “vortex” where the meridians of the earth come together and one feels a special energy conducive to meditation and the like. This is the sort of thing, besides hiking in gorgeous red rock country, that one does in Sedona, and I didn’t want to miss it. On the way to the place, the guide leaned out of the Jeep window and pointed out to us a hawk circling above us. “Red-tail,” he said. “See the flash of red?”

red-tailed hawk flying so you can see tail

I didn’t see a flash of red no matter how hard I tried, but I’ve been alert to red-tailed hawks ever since. At my daughter’s grade school, a group from a bird sanctuary came to give a special presentation, bringing in birds of prey of all kinds. There I learned that red-tailed hawks are often called “highway hawks” because of their propensity to circle above highways looking for road kill.

So they’re smart, I figure. Perhaps a bit lazy? Or maybe that’s just easy for an animal who finds food at a grocery store to say.

What is true is that you will find red-tails in desert, grasslands, cities and parks, even, says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in the rainforests of Mexico. Being able to adapt to such varied terrain sounds pretty smart to me.

The Meaning of Hawk

In Native American and Wiccan traditions, Hawk is known as a messenger from Spirit. The message Hawk brings to those whom she visits is: be aware. “Watch,” she tells us. Perceive with that wonderful vision that lets Hawk see both the big picture and the minutest mouse in the grass. There is a signal intended for the person who sees hawk, a signal only s/he can intuit. Unraveling the message, as is true for all portents, tends to be an idiosyncratic task.

The general message of Hawk is live your life with a keen eye and be ready to dive upon an opportunity in an instant. I also understand it to suggest soaring—to get a different, wider perspective on events in one’s life. And maybe this is just my own interpretation, but Hawk instructs me in the twin arts of joy and rest. What could be more jubilant than flying? What could be more clever than using air currents to keep one airborne, gliding and resting while waiting for the moment of action to come?

For me, red-tailed hawks also symbolize friendship and partnering. I often, at least when they’re hunting, see a pair of hawks circling. Four eyes are better than two, apparently. The father of a brood also helps build the nest, find food and even sit on the eggs or the nestlings when necessary. Mated pairs typically stay together until death does them part.

Red-tailed hawks are also remarkably lightweight. Despite a wingspan of between three-and-a-half feet and nearly five feet, even the biggest females rarely weigh more than three pounds. Perhaps there’s a message here, too. If we want to fly, to soar, to move with the wind, we need to lighten up. Perhaps we are meant to reduce the burden of what we carry with us, be it physical, mental or emotional.

Watch a Red-Tailed Family Grow

One of the things I like best about these amazing birds is that they frequent the city. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, I’ve seen them perched high up in a tree in my neighbor’s yard or at Fresh Pond Reservoir. Or on top of a flagpole or the roof of a tall building.

Right now you can watch, close up and personal, an amazing daily miracle: two red-tailed parents raising a brood. Their nest is in a building (185 Alewife Brook Parkway) opposite a shopping center. You can see pictures of them from eggs to nestlings to fledglings, at Cambridge Community Television. Ernie Sarro who produces “The Expert Series” for CCTV, has a contest going to name the baby birds. He’s already christened the parents Ruby and Buzz. Check out his amazing videos of the red-tailed family!

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