Thousands of us around the country have been glued to the New York Times Hawkcam for over two months! Mommy and Daddy red-tailed hawks Violet and Bobby built their nest on the 12th floor ledge of the Bobst Library at New York University in Washington Square – outside the president’s office! The NYT put up a live 24/7 camera on March 23. And we watched the eggs appearing, watched the expire-by date come and go – and then watched the lone baby emerge on May 6, watched that first bobble-head dance, went through the agony of what to do about Mom’s bad foot, watched Pip attack her father (which turns out to be common, is called crabbing, and is how young hawks learn to go after prey).
More than 500 names were suggested, pared down to 9 – and we readers chose Pip, who grew amazingly fast, going from baby to adolescent in less than 4 weeks. Lately, Pip had been practicing her jump flaps nearly full time, her chest was fully orangey-red, her wing span ginormous. Last night, I watched her standing on the edge of the nest late into the night. Just standing, looking out over the trees and the city.
This morning, she stood, seemingly nervous. preening her feathers, rearranging her wings, checking out her feet. Some jump flaps and actually flight along the ledge, but mostly just standing. Mom or Dad flew by once with a pigeon, but didn’t stop. Clearly, they had decided it was time for her to fledge = take flight. The last video shows Pip on the very edge of the nest – and suddenly taking that long step that turned into flight. She flew and glided sure-winged 200 feet to the roof of another NYU building. According to the many tweets, Mom and Dad joined her immediately thereafter, for a family celebration. She likely will never return to the nest.
There is a timeline with multiple videos on the NYTimes website – Pip the Hawk: This Is Your Life. I’m sure I’m not the only one tonight, both celebrating her achievement and missing her acutely. The fierce tenderness of hawks winds its way into the heart.