Jun 10 2011

Other Birds Are Learning Too

Published by at 6:00 am under Bird Behavior,Birds of Prey


Peregrine falcon chicks and baby robins aren’t the only ones learning how to fly right now. 

This year’s “baby” red-tailed hawks are learning too.   They’re the same size as their parents but they’re clumsy fliers and often have trouble landing.

Even when they fly well enough to follow their parents they don’t know how to hunt.  In this they have a lot in common with the young peregrines at Pitt. 

How to get a meal?  Ask mom and dad!   Make sure they know you’re hungry!  Make sure they notice you!

The juveniles of both species spread and wave their wings to attract their parents’ attention.    “Look at me!  I’m starving!”

And they whine a lot!  Young red-tails and peregrines are both so loud that people often think they’re hurt.  On Tuesday at Pitt the whining of just one peregrine chick on a 32nd floor ledge of the Cathedral of Learning was so loud I could hear it a quarter of a mile away on Craig Street!

Immature red-tails easily attract human attention even when they can hunt on their own.  One summer I saw a young red-tail whining while he was hunting.  He perched on a fence and whined at a mouse in the grass while he waited for the opportunity to pounce on it.  The mouse escaped, of course.

Don’t be surprised if you see and hear young red-tailed hawks in the next month or two.  Neil Gerjouy found this one waving his wings in Point Breeze last summer. 

(photo by Neil Gerjuoy)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Other Birds Are Learning Too”

  1. kayon 10 Jun 2011 at 8:57 am

    Several summers ago, I heard a red tailed hawk whining atop a cell phone tower at one of the local shopping malls. It was so loud that I assumed it was hurt or had been abandoned. I called the aviary and explained the situation. The nice gentleman at the aviary explained exactly what you said, that the bird probably had not been abandoned, but that it was trying to get dinner from one or both of parents and it seemed his/her cries fell on deaf ears. He carried on for the longest time and finally one of the parents flew by and he/she took off after the parent. Hope he/she had a great dinner that night.

  2. Peteron 10 Jun 2011 at 11:59 am

    I watched two parents and their fledgling red-tail last weekend in Schenley. (pics in my flickr, but it’s a huge dump of everything from my camera, so it’s only for the patient among us) Never did see the kid fly, but couldn’t find a nest so I’m guessing he was very recently fledged. He whined forever, but never was somewhere mom or dad would bring food. They’d land nearby and I could see the mouse they had for him. But he could never find a good spot. Mom and dad carried the mouse around so long one of them even dropped the little thing. The parent stared down at the ground a good while before finally swooping down to pick it back up. Finally the kid whined enough that the mouse was brought to him. He tried to enjoy his meal, but then he dropped it! So both kid and parent stood on the branch and stared at the ground 40 feet below. The kid whined, but mom or dad was having none of it. They brought food, he lost it. He wasn’t getting it back anytime soon. Oops.

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