6/28, Cathedral Hawkwatching

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks

(All images from today are posted in a Flickr photoset that starts here.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks This episode of hawkwatching is dedicated to noisy catbirds, who make finding hawks perched in trees ever so much easier.

Today's weather was much better than it had been since late last week, still partially cloudy but nevertheless partly sunny. I headed over to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine a bit earlier than I had the last several outings, and was on Morningside Drive at about 6:15 p.m. There had been no hawk sign on the north side of the Cathedral, but these days there normally is not unless an adult is perched on Gabriel's horn.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Walking south along the Morningside Park side of Morningside Drive, I again lucked out and located a fledgling before 6:20. Close to the 112th Street overlook, catbirds were making go-away chirps, and as I moved by it was even more apparent that the target of their interest must be close by. Seeing one catbird just 15 feet away, I tried following a line in the direction it was looking, and bang! a fledgling perched in a tree perhaps 25 feet off the ground and 20 feet from the sidewalk. Her perch was next to a fork in a branch, making it a bit difficult to get a clean sight line, but she was moving around just enough that it seemed that a better view would soon be at hand.

Sure enough, within five minutes she had flown over one tree, to the same tree where the two fledglings were perched last Friday. A few minutes later she shifted to a higher branch but didn't seem to be destined to stay there long as twigs poked her in the head every time she tried to sit up straight. Just after 6:30 she moved to a good solid branch and settled down, looking around, preening, etc.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks Donegal had arrived just a few minutes after I did. Both of us were amazed at one point when the fledgling, apparently tired of the catbirds calling her names, gave out a couple of skreeks that were nothing like the whiny feed-me calls we were used to hearing. My, my. Baby is growing up fast and getting loud.

Figuring that Donegal would studiously keep watch on the fledgling, I wandered off at 6:40 to see what other members of the Divine family might be in the area. Moseying down Morningside Drive, and then east on 110th Street, there was no sight or suggestive sound. But entering Morningside Park at the corner of Manhattan Avenue at 6:45, one only had to glance up at the Cathedral and see that one of the parent hawks had perched on Gabriel's horn. As it turned out, that adult hawk would stay put for as long as I was hawkwatching tonight. Baed on past evening behavior, it was probably Isolde.

At 6:55 I had walked back across Morningside Park and was below the tree on which the fledgling was perched. I took a picture or two from the path below, and then as I was shifting to a different position, I saw a hawk fly from the top of that tree south into a tree near the 111th Street overlook. Doublechecking, I found the first fledgling was still perched in the same spot, so this made the first day since last Friday on which I had definitely seen both fledglings.

Unfortunately, when I rushed up the path to let Donegal know that I had seen a second fledgling, both of the fledges shifted position and I completely lost track of them. Wandering up and down the path for 10 minutes didn't reveal any sign and I finally made my way back to the Morningside Drive sidewalk, to find that Donegal watching one of them perched on a gable of the Cathedral School.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks The fledgling stayed put until 7:18 (during which Bruce also showed up), then shifted down to a side ledge of the gable. Hmmm, why does she keep looking down to her right? A minute later she shifted down again to a gutter on the eaves and, it turns out, to where the other fledgling was busy eating. Apparently a quick food drop-off had been made by the missing parent.

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks

Cathedral Red-Tailed Hawks The siblings remained together along the gutter until 7:26, both apparently getting their share of whatever was on the menu with no squabbling, before one flew off. The first to leave headed south and perched at the corner of the scaffolding erected around the south wing of the Cathedral School. Ten minutes later, the second aldo departed, flying back to the tree near the 112th Street overlook where the fledglings have now been seen several times.

That seemed to wrap up the evening's activity. Except for some shifting about for better perches and different views, all three hawks still in view (remember, an adult has been atop Gabriel's horn since 6:45) remain where they are until at least 8:20, when I finally depart.

Posted 6/28/2006 11:19:00 PM by Robert

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