As hatching time rapidly draws nigh, time to review the red-tailed hawk nesting sites in Manhattan for the 2014 season. It looks like there are eleven Manhattan nests this year. Two of the nests are new. Three are in trees and eight are on buildings.
Working from north to south, the nests are:
Inwood Hill Park:
There have been hawks nesting in Inwood for as long as I have been following the city hawk scene. The 2013 nest near 214th St. fell to the ground late in the year, and for 2014 the hawks have returned to the ravine tree near Shorrakapoch Rock where they had nested the previous few years. Presumably this means that the great horned owls who nested in the ravine are gone. Inwood used to be the first nest to hatch every year, but more recently it has followed the Washington Square and Fifth Ave. nests by a few days.
Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove:
Last year the hawks at the north end of Highbridge Park built two nests, mysteriously abandoning the first after eggs had been laid and starting over. The second site, apparently in use for 2014, is directly above the park path not far from the intersection of Dyckman St. and across Harlem River Drive from PS5 and Swindler Cove Park. Although not high up, it is difficult to get a good sightline on, especially once the trees start leafing out. Although I saw no activity at the nest on March 16, there was a report that the female was brooding on March 18. The nesting pair here are known as Martha and George as their nest locations in 2007-2009 were up the hill closer to George Washington High School.
Washington Heights/175th St.:
A pair of red-tails successfully fledged two babies from a nest on an apartment building fire escape near J. Hood Wright Park in 2012. Although the nest was removed once the baby hawks fledged, the hawks returned to the fire escape and built a new nest in 2013. In 2014, the hawks here have moved up their nesting schedule, with brooding of eggs begun by March 16.
There has been a nest located on a gargoyle high up the east side of CCNY's Shepard Hall for several years, overlooking St. Nicholas Terrace and St. Nicholas Park. It's a tough nest to watch because it's so high up, and it seemed that 2011 was the first time that a hatch of baby hawks was definitely confirmed here. Adults were reported in pre-nesting activities here in early March.
+ For more about this nest, check the Origin of Species blog.
Morningside Heights/Cathedral of St. John the Divine:
Since at least 2006, a nest has been located at the east end of the cathedral, high up the choir wall on the shoulders of a statue of St. Andrew and overlooking the south end of Morningside Park. Brooding in 2014 started during the week of March 19. Because the nest bowl has gotten deeper as the hawks add sticks each year, this has become another difficult nest to watch, with the baby hawks usually not visible until three to four weeks after hatch. Fledgling watching will be difficult in 2014 because the cathedral has leased out the north side of their property and the area below the nest is now ringed by a plywood fence. The female hawk here is known as Isolde. It's not clear if her mate of 2012 was killed by Hurricane Sandy; if not, then he's still Norman.
+ For more about this nest, also follow the Origin of Species blog.
Despite hawk activity along Central Park West and over by Mt. Sinai hospital this spring, there's been no confirmation of a nest in either area. Hawks did try to nest at CPW and 92nd St. last year but were disturbed by construction workers at the building at they had chosen.
Randalls Island/Icahn Stadium:
It's not exactly on Manhattan Island, but it is in the borough. This nest is located at the top of a light tower just outside of Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island overlooking soccer field #10. It's not far from the Triborough Bridge and also not far from the peregrines who nest at the psychiatric center. I'm not sure of nest timing here, although I have a suspicion that it runs a bit later than most Manhattan nests.
Riverside Park/West End Ave.:
Although a pair of hawks nested in the park trees near the Boat Basin for a few years, their deaths and replacement by a new pair of hawks has resulted in the current lower Riverside nest being located high up a fire escape on the back side of an apartment building on West End Ave. As of March 23, the female here was not yet on eggs, but it was reported that she was looking broody.
Fifth Ave./74th St.:
Probably the most famous hawk nest in the world, located on a ritzy co-op apartment building overlooking Central Park at 74th St. Although there has been rapid turnover in the female hawks at the nest over the past few years (a disappearance, a case of rat-poisoning, and who knows what else), the constant is that Palemale has ruled this area of Central Park for close to 20 years. The current female is Octavia. After a long dry spell, there have been hatches here since 2011. In 2014, it was reported that Octavia started brooding about March 12, which suggests it could be the first nest to have a hatch.
+ For more about this nest, follow the PaleMale.com website and Urban Hawks blog.
Central Park/Sheep Meadow:
After a couple of years of adult red-tail activity at the Plaza Hotel area and around the southeast corner of Central Park, it seems a pair of hawks have finally built a nest, laid eggs and started brooding. The new nest is in a tree inside the park in an area that gets very busy when the weather is nice, so it remains to be seen how successful the nest will be with hatch and fledging.
Nest constructed in 2011 on a window ledge at NYU's Bobst Library, outside the office window of the university president and overlooking Washington Square Park. This site vies with the Fifth Ave. nest for Manhattan's earliest hatch site, and brooding in 2014 began on about March 14. The male since the nest was first built in 2011 is Bobby, named for the Bobst library, and since 2012 the female has been Rosie. Unfortunately, NYU has opted not to set up their nestcam in 2014.
+ For more about this nest, follow the Urban Hawks and roger_paw blogs.
Tompkins Square Park:
Tompkins Square has often seemed like a good spot to find juvenile hawks during winter, but in recent years, I figured any adult red-tail here was probably one of the NYU pair. Not this year. In 2014, a new pair of adult red-tails have built a nest on an air-conditioner cover on the Christodora House on Avenue B near the northeast corner of the park. Brooding of eggs began about March 30. The hawks here are known to the locals as Dora and Chris(to).
+ For more about this nest, follow the Gog in NYC and Urban Hawks blogs.
Also in the borough of Manhattan is Governor's Island. Although I have yet to learn of a nest here, I have heard reports of hawk activity here over the years.