The Franklin Institute Hawk Nest

Latest Update: The hawk nest is not in use this season. There is no activity in the nest. - April 10, 2014.

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About the Nest

Two Red-tailed Hawks built a nest on a window ledge at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The nest sits just outside a window where a camera has been positioned to create this video stream. The camera looks through the glass window pane which is 24 inches wide (~61 cm). No artificial lighting has been added, so the nest is only visible during daylight hours.

2013 Photo Archive
The 2013 Timeline
Mar 25 - Egg 1
Mar 28 - Egg 2
Mar 31 - Egg 3
May 1 - Chicks 1 & 2
May 4 - Chick 3
June 20 - 1st Fledge
June 23 - Empty Nest
July 3 - F Juvenile Death
July 26 - M Juvenile Death


2012 Photo Archive
The 2012 Timeline
Mar 14 - Egg 1
Mar 17 - Egg 2
Mar 20 - Egg 3
Apr 21 - Chicks 1 & 2
Apr 23 - Chick 3
Apr 28 - Tiercel Death
May 7 - T2 Arrives
June 8 - 1st Fledge
June 15 - Empty Nest


2011 Photo Archive
The 2011 Timeline
Mar 17 - Egg 1
Mar 20 - Egg 2
Mar 23 - Egg 3
Apr 24 - Chicks 1 & 2
Apr 25 - Chick 3
Jun 12 - 1st Fledge
Jun 17 - Empty Nest


2010 Photo Archive
The 2010 Timeline
Mar 13 - Egg 1
Mar 16 - Egg 2
Mar 19 - Egg 3
Apr 20 - Chicks 1 & 2
Apr 21 - Chick 3
Jun 11 - 1st Fledge
Jun 18 - Empty Nest


2009 Photo Archive
The 2009 Timeline
Mar 9 - Egg 1
Mar 12 - Egg 2
Mar 15 - Egg 3
Apr 16 - Chicks 1 & 2
Apr 17 - Chick 3
Jun 3 - 1st Fledge
Jun 15 - Empty Nest

About the Hawks

The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is the most common hawk in North America. It is a large bird with a broad, red tail. The female is usually larger than the male. Red-tailed Hawks are monogamous, meaning that a hawk will choose one mate and stay with that mate for life.

Philadelphia provides a suitable year-round habitat for Red-tailed Hawks. They can be found in open areas with elevated perches where they sit and watch for their prey. They are meat-eaters and feed on small to medium-sized mammals and birds. In an urban area such as Philadelphia, that would certainly include rodents, although these particular hawks are most commonly observed to be feeding on pigeons.

The Red-tailed Hawk builds its nest in a tall tree or other elevated perch. The nest is a circular assembly of sticks and twigs, lined with softer pieces. It appears that The Franklin Institute's hawks have used newspaper scraps and feathers to soften their nest. Tree bark and leaves are also known to be used in nesting.

Red-tailed Hawks will lay a clutch of two to four eggs in March or April, depending on climate. (A clutch is the collection of eggs, kind of like a "litter" in other species.) For Philadelphia's latitude, the eggs are likely to be laid in mid-March.

The female lays the eggs one at a time, approximately every other day. The number of eggs is related to the availability of food in the area, as a well-fed female is likely to lay more eggs.

Video narrates the first two years of the hawk story at The Franklin Institute.

Want to learn more?
"Red-Tailed Hawks"
By Doug Wechsler
ISBN #0823955966

Visit the Visual Resources for Ornithology section at The Academy of Natural Sciences.
Red-tailed Hawk Image Collection
Hawk Nest Image Collection