Red-tailed Hawk Story: Resilient Triumph and Joy

This blog has always existed to serve two purposes in terms of the Cornell Red-tailed Hawks. The first is to function as an archival resource (see links on the right-hand side.) The second is to celebrate the lives of these hawks and all that we learn as humble observers. When all goes well, this is relatively easy. From the time that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology first put up the cams in 2012, many have found a sense of refuge and sanctuary simply by peeking into this realm. Often bombarded in our daily lives by negativity, illness, woundedness, and weary struggle, we became spellbound in a world of unfolding life and mystery. We watched further as Karel, BOGette, and other BOGs continued to give of themselves to ensure that we saw as much of this world as possible, especially after Big Red and Ezra’s offspring fledged each year.

And yet, we would be reminded all too soon that this world will always be a part of the larger broken one we live in. Injury, death, and loss would not be strangers to the hawks. Viewers formed groups in social media and this became a two-edged sword, fostering both community and divisiveness. Knowledge of Big Red and Ezra and Red-tailed Hawks became a second two-edged sword. Familiarity and sometimes arrogance chipped away at our sense of wonder. We have done this before. We have seen this before. But have we really? We found that everything that we were – whether it be good or bad, noble or petty – came with us.

Through it all, Big Red and Ezra continued to soar. Heartachingly gorgeous and majestic. Supremely dedicated to each other and to their young. And in each season, those offspring who have survived the terrible dangers faced after fledging have been joys to behold. This year, we mourned the loss of G3, and yet we are so very grateful that G1 is recovering well. Updates are being posted (when available) on the main Cornell Hawks cam page by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We rejoice that G2 is continuing to thrive in the wild and that she shows us her exuberant, feisty personality. For example, see G2 interact with a Red-winged Blackbird on Karel and BOGette’s stream from 7/19.

As we observe these things, we also have a chance to see what we have been given. It is a unique way in which we experience the healing gift of nature in general and of these specific birds up close. Unique because of the way we have woven into the viewing experiences our humanity with all of its strengths and follies, all of its insights and blindness. We have been given a gift so great that it will always be larger than our hearts can fully receive. Sometimes it may feel so full of sadness and tragedy that it cannot be received. But we continue on…and it is my hope and prayer that at some point each of us can look in the mirror and at each other and know that we have allowed our hearts to grow in resilient triumph and the joy of being.

2016 Season Wrap-up Links

I regret that I was not able to be around for that latter half of the season and missed much – both in terms of the events themselves and the events as experienced by different parts of the community of viewers.

BOG Streams and Photos

G2 Angel on Wing Drive 7 07172016_KB

7/17 G2, part of photo series “Angel on Wing Drive” | © Karel and BOGette


  1. Karen R says:

    Beautifully said. Thanks for everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb says:

    Thank you, Elly, for always writing so beautifully about the many layers of reality and emotion that have been gifted to us through these incredible hawks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anne Miller says:

    I can always count on your unique perspective to help me comprehend what I am and have seen both in person and via the Internet. I hold you and many others in this far flong community of hawk lovers in a special place in my heart. Sending warm and thankful thoughts:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ambph1 says:

    Profound and Beautiful…thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Flowerfanatic (aka Wildlifelover) says:

    Elly — So good to hear from you again. Hopefully you’re back in good health after your set-back this summer. We all truly appreciate hearing the updates you provide in addition to Karel and Bogette and the other BOG’s that keep us up with our beautiful hawk family. It’s been interesting to add the hawk families from Syracuse to our hawk observations this year. Their story of 2 females sharing a male and raising their 2 nests of babies together is truly wonderful to see. You never know how creative wildlife can be when it has to!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kate says:

    Thought-provoking, lovely capture of all the emotions BR/EZ have experienced over the years. Appreciate your contributions! Thank you….,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maureen M. says:

    Elly, your synopsis was beautifully worded, as always. It was a struggle-filled year, and Charles’ unique perspective reminds all of us that the entirety of nature is faced with challenges. I hope that you are well and that your particular challenges are diminishing. Remember to look up!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Carol Di Lernia says:

    Nice to ‘see’ you back, Elly. Thank you for your insights. If you’re not dead on, you’re close. Everything/everybody has a yin and a yang.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jools says:

    Elly, I have long been in awe of your way of putting into words what we go through, both observing our beloved hawks and other aspects of nature, and life in general. I don’t know what you are going through, but as I struggle through my own obstacles,please know that your journal is ever an inspiration to so many of us.Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lynn Bauer says:

    Glad to see you back! You were missed, not just your words, but the kind heart and soul behind them. Be well and know you’re sincerely appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

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