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Tony Grist

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Leaving The Nest [May. 14th, 2014|07:16 pm]
Tony Grist
The baby blue tits have left the nest.

Matthew spotted them this morning, peeking out from a chink in the eaves.

After lunch they dropped down onto the patio. Three of them. Clumsy little balls of fluff.

One of them flapped away at the glass screen, then found the door and flew off into the garden. The other two hid in the creeper and slowly climbed through it to the top of the garage wall. The second flew, but the third hung back. A parent visited twice and fed the lingerer but- catching sight of me- gave a shout as if to say, "Sorry kid, you're on your own now" and took off.

Number three continued to bumble around in the creeper, calling for the parent who wasn't coming back.  Once or twice it missed its footing and hung there, clutching a leaf or tendril, beating its wings like a moth. Eventually it clambered onto the roof, hopped three quarters of the way up and sat down.  It looked round; it looked up at the sky; it shook its wings; it sat some more. Then it shuffled round and-  launching itself outwards- made a faltering but successful flight into the nearest rose bush...

[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2014-05-14 09:32 pm (UTC)
You've detailed the fledging process beautifully!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-15 07:11 am (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-15 02:14 am (UTC)
Those first flights are heart-stopping. I watched the first flight of a red-tailed hawk last year -- drama!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-15 07:12 am (UTC)
I was sitting out on the lawn with my field glasses. I couldn't tear myself away.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-15 03:48 pm (UTC)
Here's a YouTube video of the fledge that I watched (on a webcam, I confess). This guy, nicknamed Peanut, had to cross six lanes of traffic to reach the tree on which he landed. The nest was on the Franklin Institute, 21st and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. They had quite a fan club.

It was a tough year for this clutch. Peanut's two sisters both were killed when they flew into plate glass windows in hot pursuit of low-flying sparrows; and Peanut himself flew into or was hit by a motor vehicle. He survived, was rehabilitated, and was released elsewhere.

Their father was killed on the Schuylkill expressway that year and another male stepped in. Sadly, he was killed on the Amtrak tracks this year. Another male stepped in but the pair has relocated to an undiscovered location in Fairmount Park. Our Hawk Stalkers see one or the other occasionally but haven't been able to track them back to a nest.

Such is the life of an urban hawk. I don't think it's much easier for them in the country, either -- just a different set of hazards.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-15 04:34 pm (UTC)
What a terrifying rate of attrition.

Your hawk's first flight was more confident than my blue tit's.

I seem to remember- from my days in Philly- that people used to call it the Sure-kill expressway.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-15 07:20 pm (UTC)
You mean the Sure-Kill Distressway, don't you?

The eyasses engage in something the Hawk Stalkers call "wingercizing" for a week or so before they fledge. They start by flapping their wings; next, they half-hop, half-fly from one end of the ledge to the other and back. If they were in the wild, they would probably hop from branch to branch.

They're pretty funny to watch the first week or so. They fly well but don't quite have it together for their landings.

(Edited to add: they haven't got much choice for their confidence -- it's fifty feet down from the nest and a good 100 feet, or more, before they're safely out of traffic.)

Edited at 2014-05-15 07:21 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-15 07:24 pm (UTC)
Wingercising is an excellent word. I must try to remember it.

My birds were living in a hole in the wall until the last moment. No chance there to practice their wing movements.
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