Hawks draw flock of fans to their Cambridge roost

By Shana Wickett
Globe Correspondent / May 18, 2010

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A nest of red-tailed hawks is the buzz of West Cambridge these days, as casual onlookers and birdwatchers gather to see the family perched about 50 feet up on the front of an office building.

The two adults and their three chicks have called 185 Fresh Pond Parkway home for more than three months, said Ernie Sarro of Winthrop, who has been featuring the family on his community access television show, “The Expert Series,’’ and his blog.

Nigoghos Atinizian, the president of Vast Capital Management, which manages the property, said surveillance cameras were recently installed upon recommendations from the city of Cambridge to monitor the birds.

“It’s a pleasure having them,’’ he said. “Everyone’s very excited about it.’’

The hawks are also ruffling the feathers of commuters, who are turning their heads to see the birds as they drive by.

“It’s kind of causing havoc in the traffic,’’ Atinizian said, noting the commotion in front of the building. “People are braking, and it’s getting to be a problem.’’

Marj Rines, a naturalist with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, described the chicks.

“They’re pretty robust,’’ she said. “They’re perching up on the side of the nest and flapping around. You really like having the opportunity to let people see the wildlife, even if it’s not in a very wild spot.’’

Sarro said he named the adults Buzz and Ruby so children could easily understand who the father and mother were.

Ruby’s head is fluffier and redder than Buzz’s, he said. He has been observing the two for the past few months, from when they took turns sitting on the eggs to splitting the responsibility of removing carcasses from the nest.

“This is a very nice learning [experience] for children to see how parents can work when they work together . . . and how successfully these chicks are growing up,’’ he said.

The chicks hatched in mid-April. One chick that does not eat as ferociously as its siblings is a main concern, he said. Rines said it is not a good situation, but it is a natural one.

“The chicks that make the loudest noise and are the most aggressive will get the food,’’ she said, noting that red-tailed hawks typically lay two to three eggs. “If two survive, that’s good.’’

About six to seven weeks after the chicks hatch, they begin to fly, Rines said. The nest is in a common but not ideal location because there is not much room for the young to wander and test their wings, she said.

But once they do take flight, Sarro said he expects the family will gain even more local attention.

The hawks’ nest is located on a ledge at the front of the building.

Shana Wickett can be reached at

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