AND THE JOURNEY COMES TO AN END FOR 2016!!
Oh what a journey! The news that our pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks had finally had success in incubating 3 eggs was received with joy! After weeks of monitoring the eggs (thanks to GSU’s Networking and Telecommunications Office), we delighted at the sight of a hatchling! The following day provided more good news with the advent of a second young hawk.
The Wildlife Center staff was made aware of the interest being generated by the “Celebrity Hawks” as days passed and folks shared concerns for the third egg. Most likely infertile, the third egg failed to hatch and for many, this was a bit of an emotional setback. For our Grandparents, or for the few individuals today that maintain a yard-birds (chickens), experiencing eggs that don’t hatch was commonplace, even natural.
After checking in with our resident Red-Shoulders yesterday we found that one of the chicks had perished, understandably upsetting to many vested with both time and emotions in the journey. We received one emotional message asking “is there anything I can do? I hate to see this happen”. In truth, the loss of a chick while in the nest is not uncommon – in the birds of prey world, an older and larger sibling will eat the younger should there be not enough food being brought to the nest.
Pulling up the “NestCam” first thing this morning only to find that the remaining chick had disappeared was shocking to all and will be internalized by many as cruelty of nature. It is under just such a situation that we’re awakened to the realities of the natural world around us and our desires to have it make sense. We are reminded, somewhat harshly, that nature should not be deemed good or bad but accepted as, well, nature.
Shortly after opening this morning we received a call from an individual inquiring if the activities at the nest were automatically being recorded and if we had anyway of reviewing the events that have unfolded? It was explained that it was a “live stream” without any recording capabilities. The individual then disclosed that while watching last night at around 8:00 pm a much larger bird made several flights at the nest. While the lighting was poor both the bird’s size and telltale “horns” could easily be seen. The intruder was our resident Great Horned Owl, often referred to as the Tiger of the Sky!
We’ve all come to understand, and perhaps even used, an expression to describe human conduct in the world of business – “It’s a dog eat dog world”! In the bird of prey world predation between species is routine. Dining on other birds of prey not only serve as a food source but can reduce competition between species. It is very possible that the young Red-Shouldered Chick was killed and taken back to a nearby nest to feed baby Great Horned Owls.
So in the end, the journey has been filled with ups and downs as the very literal circle of life has played out before our eyes! The journey was exemplary of the Wildlife Center’s mission, an educational ride.