For another season, we welcome you back to the NYU Hawk Cam.
In 2011, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks began nesting on a ledge outside the office of New York University’s president on the 12th floor of Bobst Library, overlooking Washington Square Park in NYC. They have returned every year since and, once again, have been visiting the nest, indicating the pair will once again nest, lay eggs, incubate them, and raise one or two Red-tail eyasses.
To capture those interesting events, otherwise not readily visible in either urban or rural hawk nests, NYU has set up a camera so that the NYU community, the birding community, and others can have intimate, up-close viewings of the hawks, their eggs, their offspring, and interesting at-the-nest behaviors.
We know the return of the hawks to the nest is a welcome annual sight. Moreover, we know that the resumption of the NYU Hawk Cam is exciting for its numerous, long-time fans. The University is pleased to be able to give folks the chance to share in the hawks’ daily lives, and those of their offspring, thanks to the happy accident of where they chose to build their nest.
However close you may come to feel to these raptors, it is important to remember that they are wild birds of prey, protected by numerous state and federal laws from interventions by humans. Red-tailed Hawks have evolved over millions of years to cope with all manner of variables in the raising of their young. Nevertheless, should the adult hawks or eyasses encounter a natural problem in the nest, NYU’s position is to let nature take its course, without any intervening human intervention.
Because the NYU Hawk Cam is broadcasting in real time, it's possible that viewers may witness an upsetting event in the nest involving the perceived well-being of the hawks. Viewers must decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with viewing the raw, unfettered access to nature the Hawk Cam provides.
Finally, we also find it also important to note, given the birds’ beauty and the opportunity accorded by the Hawk Cam to observe them intimately as they raise their young, there may be a tendency to project human traits on these raptors, including giving them names. NYU does not officially endorse anthropomorphizing the adult hawks or their eyasses and will not seek to name them.
Some common raptor terminology a viewer may see used in the chat room alongside the live feed:
Eyass — An eyass is the name for young hawk on the nest, before it fledges (flies off).
Haggard — In falconry “haggard” is an ancient, legacy term designating a sexually mature adult hawk, falcon, or eagle.
Tiercel — This is the term for the male hawk. Tiercel Red-tailed Hawks are, generally about 20% smaller than females.
Formel — This is a legacy term from English falconry, which denotes the female of hawk and eagle raptors. The female Red-tailed Hawk at this nest is properly referred to as “formel.”
Incubation — The behavior of either the haggard tiercel or formel sitting over or on the eggs, keeping them warm during pre-hatch development.
Pipping — Pipping is the deliberate cracking of the egg by the un-hatched eyass. On the tip of the beak is the “egg tooth,” a small pointed projection that pokes through the egg shell, cracking it. Finally, those cracks will expand, allowing the eyass to exit the egg, to hatch.
Brooding — The protecting of the young eyasses from the elements by either of the haggards; as they cover the young with their bodies or wings. Happens after incubation.
Fledging — Here, refers to the jumping off into the open air in an eyass first flight. The leaving of the nest into the air.
Jump-flapping — Reference to the particular wing-flapping eyasses perfect before fledging. The birds jump slightly into the air, flapping their wings while hovering momentarily in the air. Jump-flapping strengthens flight muscles, and perfects neuromuscular control of the wing motions required for flight.
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