Red-tailed Hawks

Hosted by Cornell Lab
Ithaca, NY

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About the Site

A Red-tailed Hawk pair has been nesting above Cornell University’s athletic fields since 2012

They make use of two different light towers for their nest sites. In 2012, 2015, and 2018–2021 they used a tower near Fernow Hall, and in 2013, 2014, and 2016, they used the tower nearest Weill Hall. We installed cameras at both of these sites to get a better look at the intimate behavior of these well-known birds as they raise their young amid the bustle of a busy campus.

Who’s Who

Big Red

The female, nicknamed “Big Red” in honor of her alma mater

She is slightly larger, with a darker head, nape and throat, and is banded on her right leg. From banding records we know she was banded in nearby Brooktondale, New York, during her first autumn in 2003.

The male, Arthur, was named in honor of the founder of the Cornell Lab, Arthur A. Allen.

He was first spotted on Cornell University campus as a fledgling in 2016. He is unbanded and has a paler chest, head, and nape than Big Red. The pair first spent time together in April 2017, after Big Red’s previous mate, Ezra, had died. The hawks completed their first breeding season together in 2018.


Big Red’s former mate, named Ezra after the co-founder of Cornell University

He died in March 2017 (read about his legacy). He and Big Red had raised successful broods every year from 2012–2016. He was a bit smaller and had golden-tawny feathers on his face and head. He also had a paler neck than the female. He was first banded in 2006 as an adult bird on Judd Falls Road near the Cornell campus.

Photo credits: Ezra (About the Site) by Christine Bogdanowicz

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