Monday, April 1, 2013

Modern family nests Philly style

It was one big happy family in spring 2012. Mom and dad. Offspring. Living large in Philadelphia.

Then dad dies in a truck accident, leaving single mom with three small mouths to feed.

Enter new suitor, who immediately begins to feed and raise the offspring as his own.

Fast forward to spring 2013. Mom and new dad have feathered their nest quite comfortably, and now three eggs have appeared and are expected to hatch in about a month.

It’s an unusual tale for Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) with all the pluck of a Philly style rise-to-the-challenge story.

What’s even more unusual is that the story is played out in real time, and watched by avid fans, via live streaming video from The Franklin Institute.  

Today's Inquirer reported the appearance of the third egg on Easter, while filling in the hawk family history over the past four springs. The blog Hawkwatch at the Franklin Institute posts regular updates and photos, with an archive dating back to the first appearance of the nest in 2009.  

I’ve never been much of a birder, but I look forward to checking in with the hawks every spring. It’s like watching Big Brother or other reality TV show, but without all the bombast. This is just day-to-day living in the heart of the city for a growing family, and I find it fascinating.

So I was thrilled recently to have a meeting at The Franklin Institute and find myself in the same room with the infamous nesting ledge. I did see Papa Hawk fly in to drop off some building supplies – twigs and leaves – but it was a little early for much else.

Now I can check in anytime during daylight hours to see domestic life in action. It’s not always exciting, and there’s a lot of sitting around waiting…and waiting...and waiting.

But that’s the reality of life.

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