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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Highlights for Sunday, March 31

It turned into a very soggy day in cornellhawks land! For a period of time (as seen in the video by ncaerie below), a raindrop seemed as if it were strategically placed over the camera lens to hide Big Red from the sight of cam viewers. Viewers patiently waited and by the time evening approached, we were able to once again see a mostly non-blurry hawk.


7:52 AM Sleepy Starling Watching  

8:59 AM Starling entering and exiting nest in pipe 

9:38 AM BR Practices for Hawk Windsurfing Olympics 

2:14 PM Nest Greenery Seems to Offend BR 

2:22 PM Rodent in the Rain for BR

4:01 PM Swimming On A Raindrop by ncaerie

Ezra looks at starlings, 7:12 AM
Screenshot by elly012912

BR positions fresh pine, 12:05 PM
Screenshot by MV

Ezra, 2:23 PM
Screenshot by mjflan

BR and eggs
Screenshot by mjflan

 Good Night BR, 6:42 PM
Screenshot by MV


Preen gland, also called Uropygial, or Oil, Gland, in birds, an organ located on the back near the base of the tail. Paired or in two united halves, it is found in most birdsSource:

BR Preening, March 27, 2013, 6:31 PM by MV

Most birds have a gland called an uropygial gland that allows them to not only obtain their vitamin D3, but also may help them to ward off insects, improve their waterproofing, reduce bacteria, and help maintain the general health of their feathers, scales and beak. The uropygial gland is located dorsally on the bird’s back at the base of the tail and is covered by a bird's feathers until they preen (running their beak along feathers, scales, skin, etc. to clean, straighten, or move their feathers).  The bird touches the gland with its beak, which releases the oil that the gland produces.  The gland has two lobes that may sometimes (depending on the bird species) have a ring of down feathers surrounding the opening (a nipple-like structure called the papilla) which acts as a wick for the oil it secretes.  When a bird moves to touch the gland, the bird lifts the covering feathers out of the way, since it can control groups of feathers.  A bird may then spread the oil throughout its feathers with its beak.  Some birds can rub their heads and feet on the gland as well.

The oil secreted from the uropygial gland contains vitamin D precursors and when exposed to the ultraviolet part of the sun’s light, is then altered to vitamin D3. When the bird preens its feathers again, it ingests the vitamin D3 from the oil. Isn’t Mother Nature amazing?

Source: Teresa Aldrich, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer. Read the whole article here.


Information compiled from a recent chat
conversation with Charles Eldermire,
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Multimedia Manager

  • Preening has several functions, ranging from essentially "brushing" the feathers so that the microstructure of the feathers stays properly maintained.
  • Preening also applies oils from the preen gland that can reinforce or condition the feathers' surface.
  • Some studies have even shown that the oils themselves change in composition across the year so that different oils are being applied prior to migration than during the breeding season, for example.
  • Preening puts the barbs and barbules back together if they get separated.

Lastly, Thor Hanson explains in his book, Feathers, The Evolution of a Natural Miracle, how it is the structure of the feathers themselves, not the oils, that contributes most to waterproofing. See recent blog post about this book here.

To see a photos of uropygial glands of a red-tailed hawk and some other raptors from The Modern Apprentice, click here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Highlights for Saturday, March 30


7:34 AM BR Watches Starling Go in Pipe by elly012912
9:21 AM Vole Delivery by elly012912

12:08 PM Feather Nose by Munchie1951

7:31 AM Starling shadow
Screenshot by Rehaber

10:56 AM Pigeon delivery to BR
Screenshot by RedtailzRule
Direct Link is here

Ezra during Ferris Tour
Screenshot by MV

Ezra departs during Ferris Tour
Screenshot by MV

 Ezra returns to nest through opening
next to starlings, 2:54 PM
 Screenshot by Aliclaws

 BR returns from Stikea, 3:41 PM
Screenshot by MV

Screenshot by mjflan

Incubation and Brood Patches

Incubation: The process by which birds keep eggs at the proper temperature to ensure normal embryonic development until hatching. In most cases, birds sit on eggs and transfer their body heat through a patch of skin known as the brood patch. In many species, only the female incubates; in other species, both males and females incubate. Less common, only the male incubates.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Brood Patches: Read a Standford essay about brood patches here.

Brood Patch Photo Example: To see an amazing photo of a brood patch on a female red-tail from the Alewife nest, click here.

Narrated Slide Show about Brood Patches: What is a Brood Patch? by Laura Erickson

Post idea submission by CoastNC 

Preferred Cam Site: allaboutbirds

Whenever possible, view the cam on allaboutbirds (as opposed to Livestream). You can bookmark the long link: or the short link:

Scroll down to the bottom to see lots of content the Lab has made available, including News, Clips, Timelines, Species Info, and Site Info. Where applicable, you may also select the dropdown arrow for information from previous years. 

Illustration by nomibird 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Highlights for Friday, March 29

Today was an exciting day for chatters, and a quiet day for our hawks. There weren't a lot of shift changes or food deliveries (or even bark deliveries compared to some other days), but the hawks continued to look absolutely beautiful just doing what they do incubating those precious eggs.


6:40 AM Morning Shift Change with Lots of Ez Wiggles 

7:13 AM Ez looks at a Starling; Shift Change by elly012912 

8:36 AM Squeaky Chippie for BR by elly012912

1:46 PM With A Bark Bark Here and a ...Bark Bark There by ncaerie

6:58 PM Starlings Are A "Crick" In The Neck by ncaerie

 Ezra watches starling, 7:13 AM
Screenshot by elly012912birds
Ezra Returns to Relieve BR, 8:36 AM
Screenshot by Aliclaws

Chippie Delivery for BR, 8:36 AM
Screenshot by whitestar0

BR Yawns, 11:31 AM
Screenshot by MV

BR with Her Bark
Screenshot by CLMBirds
Direct Link is here

Ezra looking intent
Screenshot by CLMBirds
Direct Link is here

BR with Bark, 3:01 PM 
Screenshot by MV

What's Happening in Those Eggs?

Chat was up and running early (6:00 AM) for the first shift of 2013.

Screenshot by grasshopper01
(ignore times as they are chatter local.)

In the midst of the excitement, some great information was provided in chat on "What's Happening In Those Eggs?"

Grandad_Rufus: Fact 1: A young bird's heart starts to beat around 72 hours after the start of incubation. At this time, the heart has only 2 chambers but will eventually divide into 4; two atria and two ventricles.*
Grandad_Rufus: Fact 2: Eggs are porous to the extent that they let O2 in and CO2 out. Since being laid, the egg has also been losing, through evaporation, very small amounts water through these pores, and as a result it actually weighs less than it did when it was first laid. The shell is becoming somewhat thinner as some of the calcium in the eggshell is being absorbed by the embryo and used to help build its developing bones.**

Grandad_Rufus: The hatching process starts with what is called draw down. The air cell at the large end of the egg gets larger and the embryo breaks through a membrane to enter that air cell.
Grandad_Rufus: Then within about 48 hours the embryo/chick breaks the egg shell (pip) with the egg tooth.
Grandad_Rufus: Then within the next 48 hours, the chick will have rotated within the egg (counter-clockwise) to break the shell and push the top off. This is called breakup.
Grandad_Rufus: Young are born with an internal food source called a yolk sac that acts like a supplement to feed the chicks.  

* Source:
Post last edited on November 27, 2013.

Thank you GR! 

Congratulations to all mods and chatters on the first day of chat opening, with many thanks to The Lab!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Highlights for Thursday, March 28

Bird Cams will be opening up live chat tomorrow! See announcement from the Cornell Bird Cams Facebook page. It has also been posted to the Twitter feed.

Started out as a very snowy day for our hawks. 


8:23 AM BR Leaves For De-icing!
by ncaerie

--- Ezra Takes Over Nesting Duties at a Snowy Nest 3-28-13 
by Lab of Ornithology

9:47 AM A Well Orchestrated Exchange 
by ncaerie

12:25 PM Luncheon Is Served M'Lady!
by ncaerie

3:21 PM Here Honey Hold This
by ncaerie

4:55 PM BR Seems A Bit OCD About Bark!
by ncaerie


BR, 6:23 AM by 1Claude

BR shaking off snow, 6:43 AM
by grasshopper01

BR by Aliclaws

 Exchange with Ezra, 8:25 AM
by Grasshopper01

Exchange with Ezra, 8:25 AM
by GulfCoastRita

Ezra settles on eggs, 8:25 AM
by grasshopper01

Ezra by mjflan

9:47 AM Ezra reluctant to leave the eggs
by GulfCoastRita

 12:27 PM BR leaving with lunch
by MV

1:00 PM BR by Aliclaws

Ezra helps BR with some bark, 3:23 p.m. 
by grasshopper01

BR with what else? Bark, 4:54 p.m. 
by grasshopper01

4:54 p.m. by MV

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Highlights for Wednesday, March 27

Today was a blustery day and then a stormy early evening and our hawks, especially Big Red, did a super job as usual keeping those precious eggs safe! When the storm abated around 6:20ish PM. Big Red began to dry out and to call Ezra for a shift change and dinner. Although critters can be scarce when they hunker down in bad weather, Ezra of course came through! He delivered a squeaky dinner at 7:04 PM. Big Red flew off to eat and Ezra took a minute to be a cam ham before settling in on the eggs for a short shift.


5:19 PM End of the Storm and After It
by elly012912

6:51 PM Adorable BR Watches Starlings While Waiting for Dinner
  by elly012912

7:04 PM Dinner for Hungry Big Red
  by elly012912

BR,12:27 PM
Screenshot by Aliclaws 

BR returning to nest, 1:44 PM
Screenshot by grasshopper01

 BR Preening, 6:31 PM
Screenshot by MV

 Ez settling on eggs, 7:05 PM
Screenshot by MV

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Highlights for Tuesday, March 26

The Lab is aware of the ongoing "Lost Signal" network issues and these continue to be worked on.
Cornell Bird Cams Flickr Group is here 


7:31 AM  Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle
by elly012912birds

10:56 AM Ezra --The Critter Gitter
by ncaerie

BR ignores the starling peeking in on her, 7:06 AM
Screenshot by grasshopper01

Screenshot by Aliclaws

Screenshot by MV, 12:33 PM

BR departs the nesting platform, 3:03 PM
Screenshot by GulfCoastRita

Screenshot by grasshopper01, 4:33 PM

Nest Location Info

Note for 2014: It looks like BR and Ez may be using the 2013 nest again.


It can be difficult sometimes when watching a cam to figure out "where everything is" and how the nest looks from the ground. Here are some maps, photos, and videos that hopefully will help!

2013 Maps of Campus, Nest Area, and Other RTH Nests
by MidAmRef:

2013 Screenshots of Nearby Buildings with Building Labels
Screenshots by keysfishin, Annotations by Karels:

04132013_8:51AM EDT_Cam Tour with GP (This is very long but will give you an idea of some of the views the camera has of the area surrounding the nest.)

Photo by christinebshoals. Annotations by grasshopper. 2013

Screenshot from Ferris Tour, March 17, 2013
Nest tower is in the front. Weill Hall is to the right.
Screenshot by GulfCoastRita

Photo by sully7140, March 10, 2013

Nest platform locations
Photo by Lab of Ornithology, 2013
Annotations by LottiesMimi  

Photos by the Lab of Ornithology Taken After Cam Installation in 2013
Scroll Right and Left for 5 Pics