Grant's Tomb Hawk Nest History

And who are you? - 5797

(First posted 2019-03-01. Las updated 2019-03-11)

The table and notes below detail the nesting chronology for the red-tailed hawks at the General Grant National Memorial, aka, Grant's Tomb, from 2015 through 2018.

From 2015 through 2017, the nest was located atop a light stanchion just outside the northeast corner of the tomb plaza. In 2018, the hawks relocated to the top of the light stanchion at the southeast corner.

As of the end of the 2018 season, there had been 8 known hatches at the Grant's Tomb nest, and 7 young hawks had fledged (flown from) the nest. What happened to most of the young birds once they "left home" is unknown and cannot be known. We do know that four fledglings had to be rescued and taken to wildlife rehabilitation. These four all recovered and were eventually released.

Year Adults 1st Hatch Hatches Fledged Notes
2015 F1 & M1 May 25? 1 July 2 1
2016 F2 & M2 Apr. 8? 1 2, 3, 4
2017 Mrs. Grant & General Grant Apr. 19? 3 June 6
June 6
June 7
5, 6, 7
2018 Mrs. Grant & General Grant Apr. 19? 3 June 10
June 10
June 11
8, 9

The date given for first hatch is estimated, generally from the apparent age of the first observed young hawk but also based on possible observation of feeding behavior.


1 Although local birdwatchers may have been monitoring the Grant's Tomb nest, the first reliable information received by this blog of its presence was on July 2 when a hawk fledgling was reported grounded below the nest. It was captured, made its way to wildlife rehabbers, and was eventually released. Its feathers were not yet fully developed for flight, suggesting it had fallen from the nest. Rehabbers reported that it was very thin, possibly starving. It has been suggested that the neighboring Riverside Church peregrine falcons had driven its parents away.

2 It is not known whether either of the 2016 adult hawks was one of the 2015 hawks. The 2016 female was observed to have relatively light-colored eyes, suggesting she was young, possibly a first-season mother.

3 The single 2016 nestling was first observed on Apr. 15, and thought to be so large it must already be at least a week old. The last observation of this nestling was reported on about Apr. 23. It apparently died at about three weeks old.

4 In addition to the next-door Riverside Church falcons, there was another red-tailed hawk nest relatively close to Grant's Tomb in 2016, located in Riverside Park just north of 116th St., roughly six blocks from the Grant's Tomb nest. That nest hatched two baby hawks about Apr. 14. Although both lived to fledge the nest about June 6 and 7, one died soon thereafter, presumably from frounce. It was reported that the father and possibly the other fledgling also died, again likely of frounce.

5 It is not known for sure whether either of the 2017 adult hawks was one of the 2016 hawks. However, it has been suggested that the male's coloring looked the same but the female's did not, and that the 2017 Grants's Tomb female was the mother from the 2016 nest near Riverside and 116th St.

6 Although feeding behavior was possibly observed Apr. 12, it was not positively reported that there was a baby hawk in the nest until Apr. 20.

7 Determination of fledge dates was uncertain as the young hawks were able to "branch" into nearby trees and also because they returned to the nest for feedings for at least a week after first flight. Two young birds were reported well away from the nest June 6, but the first fledge might have occurred the day before. The nest was reported empty early June 7, suggesting all three had made first flight.

8 The adult male hawk, aka General Grant, aka the General, seemed to disappear a few days before the first fledge occurred and was not reported seen for at least two-three weeks. This coincided with news that a hawk had shattered an apartment window a couple blocks north of the nest, then fled the scene. On June 9, the day before first fledge, the female hawk, aka Mrs. Grant, was found grounded in the street and rescued — rehabbers reported she was suffering from second-hand rodenticide poisoning. She quickly recovered and was released in front of Grant's Tomb on June 23. Although it was believed by many that the General had died due to injuries from the window incident, one hawkwatcher reported spotting him a month later and suggested that the window crasher was instead Mrs. Grant.

9 As it appeared both parents were not available to feed the young hawks, the first fledgling was caught and taken to rehabbers on June 11, and the second on June 12. The third fledgling was flushed from the nest during a rescue attempt on June 11, but returned and was not caught until it ventured north on June 16. The three youngsters were subsequently released in Flushing Meadows.

Posted 3/01/2019 10:41:00 PM by Robert

Cathedral Hawk Nest History

Fledge 2 - The Fencewalker

(First posted 2012-11-08. Last updated 2019-03-01.)

The table and notes below detail the nesting chronology for the red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine from 2006 through 2018.

From 2006 through 2014, the nest was located in an alcove behind the large statue of St. Andrew on the apse wall. In 2015, the hawks moved the nest to the turret above the statue of St. Peter.

As of the 2018 season, there had been 29 or 30 known hatches at the cathedral nest, and 26 young hawks had fledged (flown from) the nest. What happened to most of the young birds once they "left home" is unknown and cannot be known. We do know that three or four fledglings suffered injury or sickness soon after leaving the nest and were rescued and taken to wildlife rehabilitation. Once of these rescues died, one was committed to a wildlife sanctuary, and the other(s) were eventually released.

Year Adults 1st Hatch Hatches Fledged Notes
2006 Isolde & Tristan Apr. 27? 2 (3?) June 12
June 16
1, 2, 3
2007 Isolde & Tristan Apr. 27 3 June 12 (46d)
June 15
June 15
2008 Isolde & Norman May 4 2 June 15 (42d)
June 15
4, 5
2009 Isolde & Norman 6
2010 Isolde & Norman Apr. 18 3 June 4 (46d) 7
2011 Isolde & Norman Apr. 26 3 June 12/13 (47d)
June 12/13
June 16
2012 Isolde & Norman Apr. 17 3 June 3 (47d)
June 6
June 8
2013 Isolde & Norman (?) Apr. 21 3 June 1/8 (41d/48d)
June 5 (45d)
June 9
8, 9
2014 Isolde (?) & Norman Apr. 22 3 June 4 (43d)
June 7
June 9
10, 11
2015 Madeleine & Norman June 15-20? 1 12, 13, 14
2016 Madeleine & Norman Apr. 18 3 May 27 (39d)
May 30
June 2
15, 16
2017 Madeleine & Norman May 17 3 July 2/3 (46d)
July 2/3
July 5
2018 Madeleine & Whitey 18, 19

The date given for first hatch is usually the first reported observation of either feeding behavior or other activity by the adult(s) that suggested that there was a baby hawk in the nest. This may be a day or two after actual hatch. In one extreme case (2015), the first clue of the baby hawk's presence may not have been detected until 7-10 days after hatch. It is possible that the first evidence of a nestling in 2016 was also a few days late.

First flight (fledging) of a baby hawk from the cathedral nest has usually been about 45 days after first signs of a hatch.


1 A previous nest on the cathedral was reported in the April 2, 2000, New York Times, but a week later the newspaper reported that the male hawk had died. No further info is known about that nest site except that it was visible from St. Luke's hospital.

2 Stick collecting and possible nest building at the nest site on St. Andrew's shoulders was photographed in 2004. However, a nest by Central Park's North Meadow (approx. 3/4 mile away) successfully fledged three babies in 2004. The 2006 cathedral nest may have originated as a "secondary nest" for the Central Park hawks.

3 Regular observations by photographers of the 2006 nest did not begin until mid-May. Two photos posted on the Urban Hawks blog strongly suggest that there were three nestlings. If so, the third was spotted May 27, about four weeks after hatch, but was never seen thereafter.

4 Tristan is presumed to have died Feb. 21, 2008, after suffering a wing injury and becoming grounded the day of a snowstorm. Norman first appeared on about Feb. 25.

5 One 2008 fledgling suffered lead poisoning a few days after leaving the nest — possibly from ingesting material from repair/replacement then occurring on the cathedral apse roof — and was taken to wildlife rehabbers. It was considered unreleasable and subsequently turned over to a wildlife sanctuary.

6 No nesting activity was seen at the cathedral location in 2009, and other hawks were often seen in the area in late March. Did Isolde and Norman not use the site because of stress from the renovation scaffolding which remained in place until early May? Did they try to nest somewhere else? Both were seen sitting together atop the hospital chimney on April 19 for over a half hour, suggesting they had no eggs or nestlings to worry about.

7 Two 2010 nestlings died before fledging, one at about three weeks after hatch and the second at about five weeks.

8 A hawk found dead in Central Park's North Woods after Hurricane Sandy (Oct. 29-30, 2012) was thought to have been Norman. However, the 2013 male hawk looked like Norman. It is also possible that the deceased hawk was Isolde (see note 10). Or the deceased hawk may have been a "floater" who was in the area at the time.

9 The first 2013 fledge was very early and was plainly a nestling who fell out of or was bumped from the nest, landing directly below in an alcove between cathedral chapels. It stayed in the alcove for seven days before venturing out. Meanwhile an elder sibling made an actual flight from the nest.

10 A sick adult hawk was rescued from the cathedral grounds on June 4, 2014, and taken to wildlife rehabbers, but despite promising signs died of frounce on June 18. Due to the relatively small size of the bird, it was thought to be the male, but a necropsy by state wildlife officials revealed it was a female. As Isolde had not been not considered "small" by hawkwatchers, was this a different female and if so when did she replace Isolde? Or was Isolde the hawk killed in late 2012 by Hurricane Sandy (see note 8)?

11 One fledgling from the 2014 nest was rescued from the cathedral grounds on June 18, 10-14 days after leaving the nest, and found to be suffering from frounce, the same disease that killed its mother. Also, in mid-July a fledgling red-tail was rescued in northern Central Park and found to be underfed and underweight. Odds are that this hungry fledgling was one of the cathedral birds. Both of these fledglings were reported to have recovered and to have been released later in the year.

12 Despite construction nearby, red-tailed hawks returned to the cathedral in 2015 but likely due to increasingly cramped conditions in the St. Andrew's nest alcove shifted to a new nesting site about 30 feet away, in the turret above the statue of St. Peter. Stick collecting in that turret was previously observed during spring 2014. It is not known when the new female hawk, Madeleine, arrived except that it was before mid-February 2015.

13 The 2015 hatch was almost two months late. There was apparently a failure of the first clutch of eggs, which were laid in late March and should have hatched by the first of May. Following a series of matings observed in early May, the female laid a second clutch. Hatch date is estimated. Feeding behavior was first noted June 25, but subsequent observations indicated that the single baby was so large that it must have hatched well in advance of that date.

14 No reports were received that the single 2015 baby hawk fledged the nest, nor was a fledgling ever reported in the area around the cathedral. The nestling was last reported seen on July 24, and an observer on Aug. 1 said the nest was empty and that there was no baby hawk in the area. Fledging had been expected roughly Aug. 5, so it is believed that the bird died in the nest at age roughly six weeks.

15 Although the first 2016 fledge appears to have left the nest early, it did not look overly young to have done so. In fact, it was rather adventuresome and ambitious. It probably hatched several days before the first observation of a feeding occurred, and so age-wise was entering the "fledging window".

16 On June 1, 2016, an injured fledgling red-tailed hawk was picked up by NYPD at or near Manhattan Ave. and 109th St., about 3-4 blocks from the cathedral nest. Presumably this was the first fledgling. Although X-rays indicated there were no broken bones, the fledge apparently suffered a spinal injury that paralyzed her legs. She was euthanized a week later as her condition continued to deteriorate.

17 The first clutch of eggs laid about March 12 failed. Matings were observed early/mid-April and a second clutch laid about April 15.

18 The 2018 male has different throat feather coloring from the male of 2017 and prior years, i.e., his throat feathers were white. It is not known what happen to Norman.

19 Although it appeared in late March that the female had started brooding a clutch of eggs, in mid-April there were signs that there had been a nest failure. The hawks were observed mating on April 20, suggesting that they were making a second try. But thereafter there was no sign of the female brooding a second clutch of eggs.

Posted 3/01/2019 09:00:00 PM by Robert

6/17, Grant's Tomb

For those concerned about the third, uncaught Grant's Tomb hawk fledgling, she was captured Saturday afternoon in the Claremont Playground area. It was a team effort, with local birdwatchers, Ranger Rob, and WINORR rescuer Bobby all paying their parts. Special kudos should be given to the birdwatchers (Susan, Jeff, Lynn et al.) who monitored the next area for so many hours all week.

Lonely and Hungry - 1180

Other word is that the fledglings' mother is slowly recovering, but the father is still missing. The three youngsters will likely be individually released as "foster children" in other red-tail nesting areas.

Posted 6/18/2018 01:05:00 AM by Robert

6/14, Grant's Tomb

Lonely Fledgling - 1099

The third fledgling at Grant's Tomb was still on the loose Thursday evening. Despite five days with presumably no good meal, it seems to be healthy and stronger than you'd expect. Watchers have speculated that it may have raided a robin's nest for nourishment.

First view I had of the bird on Thursday it was in the air over Riverside Drive, but the gusty winds seemed to push it pack to the nest platform. Others reported watching it fly back and forth between this years and last year's nest earlier in the day.

Lonely Fledgling - 1107

Thereafter it was quietly perched for the next hour or more. It was good to see that it was preening, a sign that even if it's extremely hungry and lonely it is at least not sick.

Lonely Fledgling - 1144

Again, others have been watching out for the solitary fledgling, waiting for it to come to the ground where it can be caught and taken to rehab. Parks Dept. rangers were reported to have checked in Thursday to see if they could capture the bird, but were unable to do anything because she was staying 50+ feet up.

Posted 6/15/2018 01:19:00 AM by Robert

6/13, Grant's Tomb

Hungry and Lonely - 1041

The hawk situation at Grant's Tomb has continued to evolve, somewhat for the better but not as well as one might have hoped. As of early Wednesday evening just one of the three young hawks remained on the loose, but presumably it has eaten little in the past four days.

Early Monday, one fledgling was caught by rescue-rehabber Bobby Horvath on the steps of Grant's Tomb. But the remaining nestling fledged so catching it on the nest site was not possible.

A second fledgling was caught early Tuesday evening by Parks Dept. rangers, not quite on the ground but low enough that it could be safely netted.

The third, however, was still uncaught another day later. Although it was seen flying about during the day, it seems to have spent much of Wednesday perched on the nest platform railing, generally quiet but looking around and preening.

Birdwatchers have kept the area under fairly thorough watch, so there is hope that the solitary fledgling will be quickly caught when it gets weaker and comes to ground.

Hungry and Lonely - 1066

As for the parents, the mother (Mrs. Grant) was said to be still alive, but likely to remain under care for some time. A third-hand report was received that the father (the General) crashed through an apartment window last week, and although able to flee the scene has, as noted, not been seen since.

Posted 6/14/2018 12:16:00 AM by Robert