7/26, Cathedral Hawkwatching

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks

If tonight was any sign, hawkwatching at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is about to become significantly more difficult as the fledglings wander ever further from their original nest.

Arriving at the Cathedral at about 6:40 p.m., I immediately spotted an adult perched on Gabriel's horn. The effect of the strong breeze is apparent, as the hawk is standing on the horn with its body held almost horizontal, its head pointed south. At one point I think I get a glimpse of coloring that suggests that this hawk is Isolde, but it was a tiny glimpse in low-quality glasses.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Wandering along Morningside Drive, I find none of the other hawkwatchers is about, nor are any fledglings to be found on the Cathedral chapel roofs or atop the Cathedral School. After about 15 minutes, I imagine that I have seen a hawk perched atop an apartment building on Frederick Douglass Circle. I move south a bit to get a better view. No hawk, but I do hear the one-chirp "go away" sounds that smaller birds start making when there is a hawk perched nearby. Continuing down Morningside Drive, this sense that birds are making hawk-alert sounds become stronger. At 7:00 on the nose, I step into the park entrance at Morningside Drive and 110th Street, look up, and there's a hawk.

Up above a fledgling is flapping about a bit in a tree, apparently having trouble maintaining her perch (gee, that branch looks small) in the strong breeze. The chirping birds nearby probably aren't helping. After a few minutes she flies over to another branch and gets a good solid grip. She settles down and will remain there for the rest of the evening, looking around, preening, etc.

Moments later Bruce, Donegal and Samatha arrive, apparently come from over by Central Park. If I understand them correctly, an adult hawk was just seen over there, apaprently the female. That suggests it was Tristan perched on Gabriel's Horn rather than Isolde. On the other hand, looking back up to the statue on the Cathedral roof, I see that the adult perched there has vacated. Perhaps it was Isolde and she's been on the move since I last looked up there.

(Donegal's post reveals the explanation. They had actually been in the cathedral area for a half or more and at one point had seen one hawk on Gabriel's horn at the same time as another was perched on the water tower at 412 West 110th.)

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks The next hour is spent watching the fledgling perched over the park entrance, and wandering in vain up and down Morningside Drive looking and listening for hawk sign. It isn't until almost 8:00 that another hawk is seen. Bruce and I are standing at the overlook at about 111th Street, and looking back toward the cathedral, I see an adult come flying from that direction, soaring over the park toward the apartment buildings by Central Park. For a moment it seems it might perch there, but instead it circles over the Great Hill, circles some more a bit closer, and then flies back our direction. At last view, it had disappeared back over the Cathedral and was not seen again, despite a walk up to 114th Street to see if it perched somewhere on the roof of St. Luke's

Hawkwatching concluded at about 8:15 with one last look at the fledgling perched over the Morningside Park entrance.

(Updated June 27 at 14:31 to include link to Donegal's post.)

Posted 6/26/2006 09:29:00 PM by Robert

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