These roughly 30-day old Rough-legged Hawk nestlings stand stoically in the stick nest constructed by their dutiful parents. They would be due to fledge from this cliff around 36 to 45 days of age.
I observed this particular nest from a distance some two weeks earlier. At that time the nestlings were a good deal smaller and still mostly covered in downy white. The adult female stood guard over her nestlings almost the entire time while the male was out tirelessly hunting for prey. Almost on cue, once an hour, the male would fly in with a prey item clenched between his small talons.
The male would often deliver the prey item directly to the nest, and then almost immediately leave to begin hunting again to feed his hungry nestlings. The female would then takeover, breaking up the meal into smaller digestible pieces to be fed directly to the young ones. The whole process would take only 1-2 minutes. It appeared that most prey items were small mammals such as voles.
Presently there will be juvenile Rough-legged Hawks abound, testing their new-found ability to fly over the Seward Peninsula of northwest Alaska. Soon after they must venture into new territory as they begin their first southward migration to the lower 48.
Tags: 52-week project, alaska, breeding, buteo, buteo lagopus, Rough-Legged Hawk, seward peninsula