Red-tailed Hawk Chicks – The Wind Blew Their Nest Away

/, Nesting Birds, Red-tailed Hawks, Utah, Wildlife Ethics/Red-tailed Hawk Chicks – The Wind Blew Their Nest Away

Before I begin this post I wanted to say that I will not share where this nest was other than it is in the state of Utah, I don’t want this location known for the Red-tailed Hawk chicks safety. There are unethical people (wanna be falconers) who might try to capture them without permits,  proper licensing or proper training.

These chicks are especially vulnerable because they didn’t fledge naturally from their nest, they can’t fly yet and I won’t do or say anything to put them at risk which also means I won’t include any images I have taken of the nest prior to the wind blowing it down or anything that gives away their location, I want to protect them that much and ethically I believe it is the right thing to do.

Red-tailed Hawk chick on the groundRed-tailed Hawk chick on the ground – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Last week and over the weekend we had some pretty strong winds in Utah, miles and miles of I-80 were closed because semi tractor trailers were blown over. The wind howled and howled and at times there were gusts in excess of 70 mph. While I was safe and sound at home from the wind the birds here in Utah weren’t and to make matters worse it is nesting season.

High winds cause multiple crashes, closures and outages around Utah

Yesterday I saw that one of the Red-tailed Hawk nests I have been following since early spring had been blown down because of the high winds, the winds must have been very strong because I couldn’t even see any of the branches or twigs the nest had been constructed with.

I saw the Red-tailed Hawk chicks near where the nest had been though and I spent less than two minutes with them and took a few images before leaving them alone.

Fluffy Red-tailed Hawk chickFluffy Red-tailed Hawk chick – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The adult Red-tailed Hawks were nearby and could easily see their chicks from where they were perched, the chicks looked healthy, well fed and were partially hidden in tall grasses. I felt reassured because the adults were there. Even though the three chicks are out of their nest prematurely the adults are there feeding and looking after their young.  I can honestly say I felt no need to rescue them because the adults were right where they needed to be and because of the condition of the chicks. I believe that leaving them with their parents was the best choice to make.

I sure hope that the three Red-tailed Hawk chicks make it despite the wind knocking them out of their nest early, only time will tell.

Life is good.


A nifty graphic from Tracy Aviary that can help people figure out if they need to help a young bird or leave it alone, “I’ve Found a Baby Bird, What Do I Do?!


  1. Grace Cohen June 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Mia – as alsways, I truly apperciate your educational and conservational commentaryas much as I appreciate your stunning photographs. Thank you for taking the time and effort to help people understand how to respectfully approach wildlife and habitat.

  2. Laura Culley June 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Oh, and aren’t they just gorgeous? I love this stage…well, I love all the different stages. I’m SO easy 🙂

  3. Laura Culley June 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I believe you made the right decision about leaving them alone, Mia. While they’re not as safe as they were in the nest (the parents chose that nest location because of its overall safety from most other predators, the parents are most certainly continuing to care for them and will (should) protect them from most threats (humans are often excluded from this threat discussion). Any aspiring falconer who is going about the task of acquiring a bird LEGALLY (and ethically with sponsor oversight) will know that this is NOT the time to collect a young redtail hawk! There are, however, the buttheads out there–like with every other group of humans–who are ignorant while knowing it all and don’t need to follow the stinnkin’ rules. A perfect world just isn’t happening. So YAY again for NOT sharing the location.
    Just for me, kinda keep an eye on them. They’re at risk from ground predators and don’t yet know how to defend themselves. That said, unless there’s an injury that needs attending to, their parents are their absolute best teachers. And from your photos, I can see that their parents are doing their usual rockstar job! I’ve LOVED watching them parent over the years. Humans could learn a LOT about parenting from raptors–just my opinion.

    • Diane McPherson June 15, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Just stopping in and making sure you are ok. We all worry about you.

  4. M. Bruce June 15, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Fabulous pictures – but “the state removes predators”?

  5. stephen June 15, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Mia, Thanks for the info from Tracey Aviary, I posted on my FB page.
    The more I learn about birds, the more I realize how much, I don’t know. Thank you for such an informative blog.

  6. Patty Chadwick June 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Sorry about the double comments…this evil iPad is playing one of its nasty little games with me. First cooment difn’t show up, so posted a second–then BOTH showed up….sometimes I really hate this thing almost as much as it hates me!!!

  7. Patty Chadwick June 15, 2017 at 9:30 am

    To “rescue” or not rescue…msnkind meddles so should mankind make amends? As a kid, this decision was made for me when oir local gsme warden brought various critters to me to foster for a while…until he returned to collect them, take them somewhere and release them. Later, I had to make the decision for myself..Whatever one I made, often felt “wrong”…to “help” or let nature take its course…it was seldom easy….

  8. Patty Chadwick June 15, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I’ve always suffered with decisions like that…to “rescue” or let nature take its course. As a kid, the decision was made for me when the local game warden brought critters to me to foster for a while….man meddles so should man make amends??? No simple answers…sometimes any one you make seems wrong….These red-tail chicks are beautiful even at this awkward age. I hope with all my might that they all make it!!!

  9. Beth Jochum June 15, 2017 at 9:06 am

    What a gift to see these, Mia…thank you for that, and for your commendable ethics and stewardship of the natural environment and beings.
    May we all be well especially when the wind picks up our nests.

  10. Bob mcphersons June 15, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Beautiful photos miA.

  11. Liz Cormack June 15, 2017 at 6:03 am

    At least the chicks made it through the wind storm & am glad that adults are still around. Fantastic shots of the chicks. Great graphic from Tracy Aviary….very informative.

  12. Mark Amershek June 15, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Every informative post Mia. Hope all goes well for these birds. We had a very similar case with a Bald Eagle nest blowing down just northeast of Denver. The only problem was the location and it was deemed to risky to let them stay. They were rescued and released. Thanks for including the informative posting from Tracey. I am a little smarter on this subject – Thank You.

    • Mia McPherson June 15, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Thanks Mark. These chicks are way out in the country in an area where the state removes predators 🙁 like coyotes so they may stand of chance of surviving. I also hope that if anyone else sees these chicks they will leave them alone.

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