Mega, Giga and Tera

No, this is not a post about computer memories.

If you’ve read some of the previous posts on Mirkwood, you probably realized that mid-February through mid-April were my work weeks from hell. It sometimes felt as if I had worked more in those two months than I had in the past six, which is probably just my imagination. Certainly, the stress of work carried over into whatever little was left of those joyless days and much that was beautiful passed unnoticed. But fortunately for you, dear reader, this is not a post about my sob story either. This is a post about two wonderful birds.

Several times during early to mid-April, as I cycled or drove by 185 Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge, I would glance instinctively at the spot where Buzz and Ruby had first made a nest in 2010, returning in 2011. Nesting successfully in both years, the two hawks captured the imagination of several shoppers, who would chat with the local birdwatchers, and catch a glimpse of the parenting activity. In 2010, Lucy, Lucky and Larry all fledged in quick succession capping a wonderful two months for those of us who visited Fresh Pond Mall, and brought friends over to share the experience. In 2011, they returned to the same spot and over the Spring months, brought three new hawks into the world: Alpha, Beta and Whitey.

In 2012 however, the nest looked abandoned. I would look at the spot, find an empty bed of sticks and look away with a twinge of sadness, thinking: “Looks like they aren’t coming back,” or more morbidly “Perhaps they’re dead.” So, I cannot wait to share with readers of the blog that I was wrong! Buzz and Ruby are very much alive, and they are nesting at Fawcett Street in Cambridge, some distance behind Trader Joe’s with their nest obscured by a pine tree. Some searches led me to a series of superbly detailed notes taken by Paul Roberts, who has been following the birds keenly. According to Paul, the reselection of 185 Alewife as a nesting spot was thwarted by the arrival of a fierce territorial foe: A peregrine falcon. I urge you all to read Paul’s amazing account of the rivalry for food and territory between the young falcon and the returning redtails.

When the Peregrine found Buzz poaching in his territory, especially on the Fresh Pond Mall, he would strafe Buzz. He would come zooming in and shoot down at Buzz. I never saw him drop his talons, which would be akin to the “nuclear option,” but he would be like a teenage driver playing a game of chicken, coming as close as possible without striking. Buzz could feel the wind from the Peregrines wings. Usually, Buzz would rather calmly turnaround and proceed back to the shelter of Fresh Pond, or the west side of the parkway. Once or twice the falcon went at Ruby. She is larger, but younger and less experienced than Buzz, and several times she rocked in the air to avoid the world’s fastest, and maybe most audacious bird. [Paul Roberts].

However, things did take a turn for the better. In the new nest at Fawcett street, three hawklings have been born and are  developing into strong birds. Say hello to Mega, Giga and Tera!

Mega is living up to her name. Her wings now seem preternaturally long, and she uses them as crutches as she waddles across the nest. Yesterday she was slapping one wing into her mother’s face, exposing her entire body above the wall of the nest as she tried to literally circumvent Ruby. I was silently shouting “get back, get back” as she appeared perilously close to being on the very edge of the nest. [Paul Roberts]

People are again flocking to see the new family. Apparently, there have even been hawk viewing lunches, and one is being planned for June 3. And, more hawks have been observed nesting in Mt. Auburn Cemetery. This makes me smile, feel ridiculously optimistic, and thankful to Buzz and Ruby Redtail. And isn’t it capitally fantastic that there are people who care enough to document these goings-on in such fine detail !

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