Back in 2010, a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks constructed a nest and raised their chicks on a fire escape in downtown Providence. The location was vulnerable to pranksters so I decided not to share this photo series until the hawks were done nesting there altogether. In 2012, a few twigs appeared but they did not use the fire escape to nest. In 2013/14 the building was completely renovated and the entire fire escape was removed, so now I feel it’s ok to share the full series.
In January 2010, I photographed a hawk who landed in a tree, snapped off a twig and flew away with it in its talons… I followed the hawk and it led me to the nest it was building. I obtained permission from building managers to photograph the nest from nearby rooftops, and visited as often as I could, making sure not to disturb the hawks.
It was interesting to watch the hawks use their brains and engineering skills to move branches until the nest was perfect:
Here’s the bonded pair mating just before Valentine’s Day… I’m not a voyeur, they’re exhibitionists!
For weeks, not much happened as they incubated the eggs:
While one parent sat for hours, the other hunted, and throughout the day they traded responsibilities:
Why fly when you can take the stairs?
Eventually one adorable fluffy little hatchling appeared…
…and then a second:
The vertical bars suddenly resembled a baby’s crib as the mother coddled her newborns:
On rare occasions, I was permitted onto the roof to briefly look down into the nest and document what was happening inside. Here we see mom shielding her hatchlings from direct sunlight… there’s also one unhatched egg and a few meals (squirrels and voles) waiting to be consumed:
They grew quickly and a parent was always there with them:
Sadly, not all hatchlings survive and one did pass away from unknown causes. The second continued to grow and soon began leaping and flapping its new wings:
I didn’t witness the moment the young hawk fledged from the nest, but I did find it perched nearby and the parents were around to protect it. Notice the striped tail of the juvenile… they do not grow the “red” tail until they reach 1 year old and complete their first molt — a reward for living through the winter when 80% will perish due to lack of flying ability, hunting skills, prey or man.
In 2011, the couple returned and repeated the nesting cycle, producing three hatchlings that also grew quickly and made a mess:
I did not visit as often as in 2010, and again I missed the exact day the fledglings left the nest, but I saw them perched around the city a few times. As I said above, they did not use this location to nest in 2012 and in 2013/14 the building was completely renovated and the entire fire escape was removed. I don’t know where the couple has relocated, but I wish them the best of luck, and I’m grateful for the moments they allowed me to witness and share.