6/23, Cathedral Hawkwatching

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks (Pix in my Flickr hawkwatching photoset for June 23 begin here)

I arrived at the Cathedral shortly after 6:30 p.m. and found a cluster of hawkwatchers on Morningside Drive, intent upon a tree directly across the street from the Cathedral School playgound. It turns out that both fledglings are in the tree, about 20 feet apart. (They had been discovered by Bruce when he sat down on a nearby bench and then looked up.) Also in view, although far away, is an adult (later determined to be Mom) on an antenna support on the roof of a building on Manhattan Ave. at 108th Street.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks At 6:50, an adult swoops in to the Cathedral chapel roofs and lands atop the St. Savior Chapel cross. He doesn't quite perch and on later review I realize he's bent over something and is presumably preparing a meal. Both fledglings fly across the street. The first lands atop the railing between St. Martin and St. Ambrose Chapel, perches a minute, then flies up to the St. Martin roof and then over to the St. Savior roof and out of sight. The second instead ends up in a tree about 75 feet down the street, and other hawkwatchers explain to me that she's probably still having trouble getting lift when she flies. She flew to a downhill tree and would presumably then work her up the street.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Ten to 15 minutes of fledling noisemaking -- and it's a real racket -- ensues and then Dad flies off, and the first fledgling is out of view. I mistakenly guess she's on the St. Savior roof with food. The hawkwatchers congregate down the street where they can see the fledgling in the tree, and it's not until 7:15 that the behavior of passers-by reveals that the first fledgling is now on the north eave of the Cathedral School roof, and she's busy eating. (Apparently when Dad flew off, he dropped the food there, and the fledge had to fly over from the chapels in order to eat.) I can't quite make it out, but Bruce indicates that with his lens, he can see it's fresh rat for dinner.

As we're watching the first fledgling eat, the second makes its way out of the tree and is next spotted on the roof of St. Ambrose Chapel at about 7:23 by Samantha. The fledge hops about a bit and then flies over to the Cathedral School roof to see if she can get a bite before the rat is all gone.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Both fledglings remain at the corner of the school roof for the next 20 minutes. The second gets a bit of food, but there's a tussle or two as the first tries to defend her dinner. Twice the second paces along the gutter at the roof's edge to see if there are any bits o' rat left uneaten. Then at 7:52 one of the fledglings (I think the second, least fed baby) flies into a tree along the street, about 75 feet south.

At this point it's been about 45 minutes since Dad flew off but Mom has remained distantly in view on the rooftop radio antenna. But at 8:05 she flies off and is last seen over 111th Street and she seems to be flying east, fading from view in the humid sky rather than disappearing behing a building.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Things remain quiet for about ten minutes and I wander up the street if an adult has perched somewhere atop St. Luke's hospital. No, but as I'm coming back down Morningside, I think I see a hawk below me flying across Morningside Park. Perhaps so, as the fledgling still on the school roof is lookin over that direction as if there's something of interest.

About 8:20, the fledgling on the school roof joins her sib in the tree, perching just a foot away. But after a few minutes she decided to move on and flies across the street... and lands in the same tree I had seen both of the babies in two hours earlier. Then five minutues later, Mom does appear swooping low over Morningside Drive to land on one of the side gables of the Cathedral School, perhaps 30 feet from the fledling who had flown into a tree a half hour before. That fledgling starts crying for attention (again, I assume it's the one who did not get much to eat from Dad's food delivery), but at this point of the evening it's getting very dim and one assumes room service has closed for the night.

SHrtly after 8:30 it's time to call it a night. I can still see Mom on the school roof, and make out the nearby fledgling because her pale front feathers are visible, but the other fledgling is now impossible to see, assuming I'm even looking at the correct spot.

(Updated: June 24 at 15:38 with more photos.)

Posted 6/23/2006 09:59:00 PM by Robert

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