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The 2013 Graduates Aren’t the Only Ones Getting Ready to Leave the Nest

May 24, 2013

Sitting on a window ledge outside John Sexton’s office are perhaps the most famous, closely observed red-tailed hawks in New York; Bobbie, Rosie, and their brood.

BabyHawksViewers of the NYU Hawk Cam will see that Bobby and Rosie’s three month-old babies -- Kiku, Archie and Judson – still spend a fair amount of their time sleeping and waiting for their parents to alternate food-delivery duties (usually a rat or a pigeon from Washington Square Park below). But, my, have they grown in just a short time…

They are also steadily increasing their wing flapping and exploration of the ledge beyond the nest. Their downy feathers are being replaced by firmer, more mature feathers. Growing bolder by the day, they hop closer to the edge of the windowsill and spend hours each day looking out over the park and the cityscape.

In a conversation with John Blakeman –a raptor expert from Ohio who has been one of moderators of the chat room that accompanies the hawk cam and a source of great wisdom – he predicted the three young hawks will make their first flight in the next week or less.

LeavingTheNestWe were on the phone – along with two Urban Park Rangers, representatives from NYU’s Public Safety Department, and another member of the community that watches the Bobst hawks – to talk about what to do if any of the young birds’ first flights goes awry, and a bird gets stuck in a difficult or dangerous position. Reassuringly, John told us the chances of this were small. Unreassuringly, he told us that if one of the young red-tails did end up in a tough spot, someone would have to gently drape a large towel over the freaked-out wild raptor, load it into a box while avoiding its sharp, sharp talons, and then set it down in the park. All of this, of course, under the unhappy gaze of its parents, who might choose to do some “close fly-by’s” to express their concerns.

So, it’s fair to say that everyone’s fingers are crossed that this year’s maiden flights go at least as well as the last couple of year’s.

--John Beckman and Katherine Taylor

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