It began just over a week ago, when the New York Times’ webcam caught the image of the two eggs as they began to hatch. A young family had set up house in downtown Manhattan — a pair of red-tailed hawks and their young in a nest outside a twelfth floor window overlooking Washington Square Park. The cuteness factor runs high here, the numbers on the live-view ticker racing upwards as over a thousand of us play hookey from work and allow ourselves (if you’ll pardon me) a bird’s-eye view. Two fluffy little pompom-heads, nested in a collection of branches, string, and paper bits, open beaks wide as mama (or papa, hard to tell) delivers gourmet fare — dainty morsels of fresh rat meat — to the little ones (for the faint of stomach and heart, the rat carcasses don’t last long).
Like all newborns, these two are mesmerizing — fascinating and beautiful to watch as they reach out to the world. Their entry into life is wondrous — it’s the sudden burst of light at the tip of a struck match, the world beginning all over again. In both their fragility and fullness of life, there’s something primal and mysterious about this pair of hatchlings that I find very moving. Watch the chicks use their stubby wings like sense organs, reaching out to touch their surroundings. Trying to stand, they boost themselves up with these proto-wings, toppling over, flopping their little appendages about each other in what looks like a cuddle as they stumble into connectedness. Already you’ll see the outlines of the elegant creatures that they will become.
Watch these two tiny bundles of hunger, play and sleep, beautiful and alive to the core, and you can hear the echo of all the life in the world. You feel awakened, and, if I may say it, blessed.
Visit the chicks at http://www.nytimes.com/pages/nyregion/index.html