redtail behavior

old jersey girl

Explorer
Jul 26, 2017
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south nj near Delaware bayshore
We again have a nesting pair in one of our mature white pines. Saw them mating this morning.
My understanding is that they should have eggs/fledglings by now. Does copulation continue after eggs are laid? Are they mating to fertlize eggs that are going to replace eggs or young lost due to weather or predation?

Daily observation of the nesting pairs for the last decade here leads to lots more questions than answers. I don't know if its the same pair. They usually start with 2 fledglings, some years both make it to Oct, about half the time only one. Found one on the ground 2 yrs back, took it to rehab, died that night. No cause known. There is a lot of individual variation; some fledglings flight practice goes well, some bumble through the pine branches and finish almost on the ground. Parents continue feeding them into the fall, although the kids start learning to scavage roadkill and the farm field across the street by fall.

About 10 yrs ago a utility employee went high up in a bucket truck and told me there were 5 big nests in various states of repair in our pines. There are a pair of great horned owls here, may have used redtail residences and/or consumed redtail offspring.

Sadly, recent storms have decapitated more than half of the biggest pine trees. Ther are only 4 of the biggest, robust specimens, which limits redtail nesting sites. I hope this pair's nest survives spring storms.
 

old jersey girl

Explorer
Jul 26, 2017
179
50
28
south nj near Delaware bayshore
Good suggestion. I'm familiar with their program with peregrine falcons. The extensive Wikipedia redtail info is excellent, but not clear if copulation stops after eggs are laid.

If the falcons are stealth jets, and the other buteos (sharp shinned, coopers, and goshawks) are attack helicopters, then redtails are big, shaggy, biplanes. They are my favorite raptor. Totally adapted to co-existing with us bipeds, and able to live almost anywhere, eat anythig.
 
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