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.
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.
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.)]
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns: