City Wildlife

Wild hawks make themselves at home at a Philadelphia museum

May 18, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Corlett
MATT ROURKE—AP

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch the entire lifecycle of a hawk up close? Now you can.

TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Corlett talks hawks with Franklin Institute president Dr. Dennis Wint.
COURTESY CORLETT FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Lucy Corlett talks hawks with Franklin Institute president Dr. Dennis Wint.

For the past two years, high above the busy streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a pair of red-tailed hawks has nested on a window ledge of the Franklin Institute, a science museum. If you happen to be in the area, you can visit the museum and see these hawks up close.

But you can also keep tabs on them online. The museum's website has a live webcam that broadcasts the activity of the hawks all day long. Over the last two years, more than 270,000 people have visited the site.

Caught on Camera

According to Franklin Institute president Dr. Dennis Wint, the opportunity to see the lives of these hawks is very rare. "A lot is known about the red-tailed hawks in the wild," he says, "but not very much about red-tailed hawks in urban areas."

Though hawks can often be seen passing through big cities, they usually live in suburban and rural areas. The hawks may have chosen to live in the city because of the food that is available to them there. One of their favorite foods is pigeon, an easy catch for a large bird of prey.

Webcam viewers can watch the parents feed their young and teach them to fly. The baby hawks are currently at a bit of an awkward stage. Their feathers have not fully grown in, making them look a bit like pale gray chickens. Of course, this stage won’t last long. To see the hawks for yourself and to keep tabs on their development, visit fi.edu/hawks.