Sunday, June 24, 2012

Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract: Last Red Tailed Hawk Baby Took Off June 15

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 15, 2012.  This may be the last photo of Red Tailed Hawk Baby #4 in the nest.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)

In years past, the Red Tails continued to use the nest for months after the babies fledged.  It was centrally located between Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract and the Red Car Property.  It was also well situated for the youngsters to catch the afternoon winds and updrafts from the 2 Freeway.  They also hung around the area on both the Semi Tropic & Corralitas sides of the 2 Freeway to learn to fly, feed and hunt, months after they took flight.

Since the babies fledged in the past few weeks, we have not seen much of the hawks at all.  Even the adults aren't around.  I'm speculating the extreme noise of the grading machinery and back-up horns on the controversial 16-lot subdivision in the Semi Tropic Spiritualists' Tract forced them to find another neighborhood to raise the youngsters (who will stay with the adults for the next few months).  
Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 14, 2012.  Of course, the CalTrans tree contractors didn't help.  The day after the CalTrans trimming, Baby #4 seemed to take off and not return.

Several months ago, we had to involve Assemblymember Cedillo's office to ensure the tree with the nest (on CalTrans property) was not cut down.  Last month, CalTrans tree contractors showed up to do the much needed tree trimming on the Corralitas side of the 2 Freeway.  The contractors were unaware of the hawk nest, despite earlier documentation. 

Another round of emails and phone calls ensued, and we negotiated an agreement for them to trim the center section on the Rosebud overpass since the hawks were already dealing with the noise on the construction site - less than 100' away.  The trees had some dangerous looking broken branches since the December 1, 2011 windstorm.  They did not do any trimming on the Allesandro side (where the nest was). 

We have no idea where the babies are, if they are hanging out together or how many are even still alive.  Last year the 2 fledglings hung around together for months.  Clearly, the inability to hear each other's calls over the machinery is having an effect on the hawks' behavior.

The City's construction regulations call for a quiet zone of 500' radius from nesting raptorsNo wonder we only occasionally see the Red Tails anymore - they're probably trying to get as far from this noisy and deforested neighborhood as possible.