Although any babies in the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are still too small to be seen from the street, there is copious evidence appearing that they are up there. The amount of whitewash on the stonework around the nest, and on the edges of the nest itself, has greatly increased in the past week. Enough so that one expects there is more than one nestling up there.
Following are various photos taken at the three red-tailed hawk nest sites in Morningside Heights during the past week.
First, the nest inside Riverside Park at 116th St., where we find the female settling down after a feeding on Monday...
With the male perching in a nearby tree as sunset approached...
And on Thursday at the 116th St. nest, mama checks over the baby(s)...
Up the street at Grant's Tomb, I was a bit confused on Thursday. We either had a situation where the male conducted a feeding of what seems may be a single baby in the nest, or else the male kept watch over the nest for an extended period approaching sunset after mama did the feeding.
In any event, parent 1 perches above the nest while parent 2 does the feeding...
And on Friday, mama guards the nest while the baby snoozes after a feeding...
And finally, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, mama Madeline kept an eye on things after finishing a feeding on Thursday evening...
Further suggesting that eggs no longer need to be brooded, the red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine left their nest unattended for about 40 minutes early Wednesday evening. That is, there was no adult hawk in the nest, but there was probably one watching from somewhere nearby almost the entire time.
At about 6:40, Madeleine got up out of the nest and flew off to the north, hooking left at 114th St. and disappearing behind the hospital rooftop. Shortly afterward, I found Norman perched not far from the nest, less than 50 yards away atop the ugly apartment building just built. A few minutes later, he dropped down to perch on the cross at St. Savior Chapel below the nest.
He hung out there for six or eight minutes, and then as Madeleine came flying by overhead, he followed her to the north. Again, they disappeared behind the hospital. But Norman hadn't gone far, as he headed for his favorite chimney cover on the west wing of the building. (One wonders if he can still watch the nest from up there.) Another minute, and he flew back over the cathedral and perched on Gabriel's horn.
And then about 7:15, Norman took off east, descending into the rooftops of southwest Harlem. For the moment it looked like no one was watching the nest.
But no, Madeleine returned within a minute or two, checked the nest contents over, and then settled down.
The trifecta of hatches at the Morningside Heights red-tailed hawk nests seemed to be complete on Monday evening. I checked the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 6:15, initially seeing nothing but then finding that Madeleine had stood up on the side of the nest and was bent over something inside. It looked like a feeding was in progress.
The feeding lasted between four and five minutes, and Madeleine may have only given a hatchling seven or eight bites to eat. That will change as the baby hawk(s) get bigger and demand more. But for now the activity is sufficient to demonstrate that there probably is a baby hawk up there.
And then it was over, with Madeleine settling back down into the nest and out of sight.
On Thursday we saw that there had been a hatch at the hawk nest at Riverside and 116th St., and late Friday afternoon came word from its near neighbor to the north. In fact, we learned that not only did the Grant's Tomb red-tail nest have its own baby hawk, the hatchling looked big enough to be a week old. An additional report later in the weekend indicated that one of the neighborhood birdwatchers had indeed seen feeding behavior at the Grant's Tomb nest the weekend before.
But unfortunately for me, by the time I made it over to Grant's Tomb nest on Friday, baby hawk viewing was over. Baby was snoozing, and mama had perched on the side of the nest keeping watch.
I ended up wandering about the area, exploring for alternative viewing angles. There was even a spot in front of the tomb steps where you could look between the swings of a large eagle statue and through numerous tree branches, and see the nest at the top of the light stanchion.
At one point it did look like maybe mama was preparing to start another feeding. She was bent over something fuzzy along the side of the nest, although it looked like the carcass of some prey. But no, no sign of a baby hawk popping up for food, and late dinner did not ensue. Drat.
And again mama perched on the side of the nest where she could an eye on things.