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Stu Bykofsky: Franklin Institute's red-tails are hawkish on Philadelphia

TWO RED-TAILED HAWKS are raising their young on a Franklin Institute ledge. Your Favorite Columnist crawled out on the ledge for an exclusive interview.


are raising their young on a Franklin Institute ledge. Your Favorite Columnist crawled out on the ledge for an exclusive interview.

HOWARD HAWK: Yo, yo, yo. Who you?

YFC: I'm the Daily News ornithology editor.

HOWARD: Wha' da shizzle?

HANNAH HAWK: (Whisper) It means he's a birdbrain.

HOWARD: Am I bein' punk'd?

YFC: No candid cameras, Howard, just my notepad.

HANNAH: But there are cameras, Mr. Bilkowshy. The Franklin Institute has a webcam trained on us night and day.

HOWARD: Creeps me out, dawg.

HANNAH: Those Lower Merion parents think they have a problem with webcams? For privacy, I have to fly to City Hall to pee.

YFC: People urinate there too, sadly.

HOWARD: Turn the camera off, homey, and we owe you a solid, yo, yo, yo.

YFC: That yo-yo-yo thing is really annoying. Are you a rapper?

HOWARD: Yo, I'm a raptor!

[Actual Avian Fact: Greater Philadelphia is home to many raptors, including varieties of hawks, peregrines, eagles, kestrels, turkey vultures and owls.]

YFC: Geez. Hannah, why did you marry Howard? He seems a little, well, "off."

[Actual Avian Fact: Red-tailed Hawks mate for life.]

HANNAH: We're not married. Defense of Marriage Act or something. Bigots! Fowl have no marital rights.

YFC: OK. Um, this is your second year here. Why?

HANNAH: Location, location, location - plus the 10-year tax abatement. And Philly's a fabulous food town.

[Actual Avian Fact: Red-tailed Hawks usually favor open and wooded areas. They don't migrate, but may move seasonally to follow prey.]

YFC: Do you eat out much?

HANNAH: No. Wait a sec. Howard's going out to hunt.

HOWARD: Wassup today - Dilworth Plaza, Rittenhouse Square, Marconi Plaza?

HANNAH: Not South Philly, I don't want seagull and macaroni again. How about pigeon?

HOWARD: Off the hook! (He flies off.)

YFC: How are the chicks doing?

[Actual Avian Fact: The young are called eyasses.]

CHICKS: We're hongry.

HANNAH: Now that's a bulletin. They're like a beak attached to an intestine.

YFC: Will they be leaving soon?

HANNAH: Like human kids, they hang around until we stop feeding them. Then - poof! - they fly off. Probably in a couple of weeks.

YFC: Where will they go?

HANNAH: They're kids, probably live on a ledge outside a loft in Northern Liberties. I'm not sure. Hawks aren't helicopter parents.

[Actual Avian Fact: Red-tailed Hawks tend to remain in the general area where they were born. (Like Philadelphians.)]

(Howard returns)

HANNAH: What's that, honey?

HOWARD: I got pigeon.

HANNAH: Tear it up for the triplets.

HOWARD: Try some first, baby.

HANNAH: Mmmm. Scrumptious. Moist, tender, bloody. Would you like a bite, Mr. Bitchowski?

YFC: Maybe later.

HANNAH: The kids are loving it. Honey, you're the best hunter-killer!

HOWARD: Don't make me blush. Snagging pigeons is easy as sidewalk bike-riding.

[Actual Avian Fact: Pigeons are faster than Red-tailed Hawks.]

YFC: Let's change the subject. Did you follow the Eagles draft?

HOWARD: Eagles? Run!

YFC: No, no, the football Eagles.

HOWARD: I nearly crapped myself.

YFC: Sorry. I didn't mean to ruffle your feathers.

HOWARD: Football's dumb. St. Joe's Hawks are da bomb.

HANNAH: But not the Blackhawks. They suck. We're Philly hawks.

YFC: My Temple Owls?

HOWARD: Dude, owls are, like, so gay.

HANNAH: Howard! Owls are raptors, too.

HOWARD: I love pulling her chain, Mr. Bicarbonate. Say, Hannah, how's my red tail looking?

HANNAH: Oh, honey, you know what it does to me.

YFC: Um, I think you two need to be alone.

HOWARD: Yo, will you kill the webcam on your way out?

Actual Avian Facts furnished by the Franklin Institute's Dr. Dennis M. Wintand the Philadelphia Zoo's Kim Lengel. E-mail or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns: