Hawk Happenings Data Collection

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Welcome to Hawk Happenings

Please read the tutorial here.
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Help us by collecting data to answer the question:

What is the frequency of certain hawk behaviors, and does this frequency vary with the weather?

Please read the tutorial
before you start.



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Click behaviors as they happen

Ithaca, NY

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Hawk Happenings Field Guide

Use this guide to become more familiar with the hawks and the behaviors you will be tagging for the investigation.

Who’s who


As their common name, “Red-tailed Hawks,” suggests, the adults have red tails.

Big Red

The female was named after the nickname given to Cornell University’s sports teams. She is slightly larger and darker in color than her mate. She also has a band on her right leg.


The male was named in honor of the founder of the Cornell Lab, Arthur A. Allen. He is slightly smaller, has a paler chest, and does not have a band on either leg.


The three nestlings are fluff balls after they hatch, but they grow quickly! Their flight and body feathers will come in and they’ll be the same size as the adults before you know it.


1. Prey delivery

Both adults, Arthur and Big Red, will deliver prey to the nest.
If you see prey delivered, you’ll click one of the three buttons to indicate if it was delivered by the male, the female, or “unsure” (if you weren’t able to tell which one). In the video below the female adult, Big Red, makes a prey delivery.

2. Chick(s) eating 

When the chicks are young they are primarily fed by the adults. As the chicks get older they will start feeding themselves. For either type of feeding, click the “Chick(s) eating” button. Once a chick starts eating, you don’t need to keep clicking every time it eats a piece of prey during that bout of feeding, but you can click the button every time a new chick gets fed. When you see feeding stop, click “Chick(s) stop eating.”


3. Nestling Activity

As the young nestlings develop, they’ll start to defend their food, flap their wings, and walk around the nest. When you see any of the nestlings flap their wings, click “Flapping.” Only click the button once, you don’t need to click for every “flap.”When you see any of the nestlings talk a couple steps or more around the nest, click “Walking.”

When you see the nestlings defending food by covering it with their wings (also known as mantling), click “Food defense/mantling.” The video below shows one of the nestlings defending food brought in by Arthur, the adult male.


4. Vocalizations

The adult and nestling hawks make a variety of calls. Click the button “Hawk vocalizes” whenever you hear one of them make a vocalization, clicking the button once when you first hear the vocalization. Sometimes the vocalizations are hard to hear or figure out if they are coming from the hawks. See the videos below for examples of what you should be listening for.





Hawk Happenings Tutorial

Welcome to Hawk Happenings!

Big Red and Arthur standing on the nest cup.

In this project you’ll help us better understand the frequencies of certain behaviors and how they relate to weather data collected from a nearby weather station.

You’ll collect information on 4 behaviors:

  1. Prey delivery
  2. Eating
  3. Nestling activity
  4. Vocalizing

Step 1: Login in

  • Do you have a Cornell Lab account? If so, simply login above to start collecting data.
  • Don’t have an account yet? Create a free Cornell Lab account (opens in new tab).

screen shot of data collection screen with yellow arrow pointing to where one logs in

Step 2: Observing Behavior At The Nest

  • Watch to see if any of the four behaviors happen. If they do, click the corresponding buttons.
    1. When a hawk delivers prey, click who delivered it (male or female) or click “unsure” if you can’t tell.
    2. When the chicks are being fed or feeding themselves, click “Being fed/eating.” Once they stop, click “Finished feeding.”
    3. When any of the nestlings defends food, flaps their wings, or walks around the nest , click the corresponding button.
    4. If an adult or nestling makes a vocalization, click “Hawk vocalizing.”
  • If you don’t know what a behavior looks like or need a refresher, check out the Field Guide (opens in new tab).
  • IMPORTANT NOTE! We changed the buttons so that we could record nestling activity instead of brooding. To see the new buttons correctly, you may need to use one of these keyboard shortcuts(opens in new tab) to empty your browser’s cache and do a “hard refresh.”


A screenshot of the data collection buttons

Step 3: Finished Collecting Data?

  • It’s very important that when you are finished collecting data that you click “END DATA COLLECTION.”
  • Even if you don’t see any of the behaviors while watching, that’s important information that will be useful to know!

What If I Click The Wrong Button?

  • Don’t worry! You can remove anything that you report by clicking the (X) icon next to the classification in the status window below the video.
  • Also, you probably aren’t the only person watching! Simply do your best because we will be looking at all of the data that gets tagged, including data from others that are watching at the same time as you.

What If I See Something Cool?

  • If you see something cool or see something you have a question about, end the data collection and head over to the Discussion Board (opens in new tab). There you can comment on what you saw, ask a question, or see what other people have seen.

Why can’t I rewind or pause the video? 

  • You won’t be able to rewind or pause the video because we need to associate time with your button click.
  • If we had those features enabled, then we wouldn’t be able to determine where your button click is in time.
  • If you want to rewind or pause the video, click “End Data Collection” and watch the Cornell Hawks cam on the Bird Cams website (opens in new tab).

Why do the times “Session Report” not match up with the live video feed? 

  • There is a lag time between what the camera sees and what we each see. The delay is usually 30-60 seconds.
  • There isn’t a way to match up your observations with the camera time, so we use the local time of your computer to determine when you clicked a button. Then, we convert that to universal time and store that in the database.
  • Sometimes times won’t match up exactly, but that’s okay!

Thanks For Participating!

  • This investigation is only possible with your help!
  • If you have any questions for the research team, feedback, or see something cool, head over to the Discussion Board (opens in new tab).