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Monday, March 21, 2005

Fordham Red-Tails: Incubation may have started

Here's an update that I just received from Christopher Lyons:

"Today, 3/21/05, I finally saw one of the Fordham Red-Tails unequivocally sitting in the nest they started building in February [ ... ] at Fordham University in The Bronx. The pair have periodically landed in the nest to fuss with it over the past several weeks, but this was the first time I've seen a bird just sitting in it, with only the head poking up here and there, to look around. [ ... ] I get a pretty good look at the nest, though I can't see directly into it.

There was no sign of a hawk sitting in the nest on Friday, so I have to assume that this latest development occurred sometime over the past 48 hours or so.

I still can't tell the pair apart, except by comparing them side by side--they are very similar in plumage, and I haven't found any strongly identifying physical traits. This hasn't stopped some higher-ranking library employees, influenced by the media buzz surrounding Pale Male and Lola, from naming the new campus residents. The male has been named "Hawkeye Pierce", in honor of the TV actor Alan Alda (probably the most famous living Fordham graduate). The female was named "Rose Hill", after the campus itself. So Hawkeye and Rose for short. They arrived at these monikers without my input or that of the hawks themselves, but not bad naming, all in all. Hawkeye has certainly been doing a lot of piercing, mainly of pigeons and squirrels. And the MASH theme certainly gives us lots of potential ideas for naming the offspring.

Given a 28-32 day incubation cycle, and then an additional 40-odd days to fledging, I feel reasonably secure in the hope that any young that may hatch will not be attempting to leave their nest until after the spring semester has ended, graduation ceremonies have been held, and the campus has become a much quieter place. Could have been a bit sticky if they'd been jumping out of the nest during Commencement Week. As urban nesting sites go, the campus is fairly safe, but I sure wish there wasn't a narrow paved road directly underneath the nest tree. But I guess there's no point worrying about that until such time as we start seeing young."

If Big Mama and Split-tail are on the same schedule as previous years they should also be incubating eggs now. I plan on checking out their nest tomorrow.

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