7/27, Hawkwatching

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park
Little brother above the Morningside Park waterfall, July 27.

A good day for hawk photos, as the higher humidity was balanced by the extended cooperation of the Divines' little brother. Remember, you can click on any photo to see a larger version archived on Flickr; don't forget to click on the "All Sizes" button when you get there, because some of today's pix are available in very large sizes.

I reached Morningside Park at about 5:30 and decided after yesterday's events to start my search higher up the park. So this time I circled around the dog run before heading south past the turtle pond and doing the circuit around the lower end of the park. The idea didn't seem to work, as the only hints of hawks spotted during the tour was a scattering of pigeon feathers beneath a favored perch near the 111th St. overlook.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Heading back north along the east side of the park, I noticed the horde of pigeons hanging about the Bear and Faun fountain/statue take to the air and perch in the nearby trees. It seemed a promising sign, and it became more promising when I reached the fountain and could hear a catbird squawling quietly somewhere to the northwest. Just before 6:00, as I started the climb up the steps alongside the dog run and tried to place the catbird's location, I was startled to see a hawk perched no more than 10 feet from me, silhouetted against a wide patch of open sky.

It was little brother hawk, sitting quietly where he could observe whoever passed by along the lower path alongside Morningside Ave. Every now and again something would grab his attention: a small dog, a crowd of noisy boys, etc. His crop looked empty, so I wondered if he would eventually get hungry enough to turn around and try nabbing one of the pigeons who had returned to the ground near the Bear and Faun.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Little brother pretty much remained in place for the next 20 minutes, then got up to stretch a bit and alter his perch so he could look the other direction. Hmmm, maybe now he'll give those pigeons some closer attention. At 6:22 he stood up in position to dive off the branch, fidgeted a bit, and then a minute later swooped down toward the pigeons. But no... at the last moment, he angled off to the right and toward the pond.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

Four minutes later I re-located little brother flapping about in the foliage above the waterfall feeding the pond. Again he was doing some looking around, albeit with his back to the pond and several times shifting to another branch or an adjacent tree. Hmmm, no robins or other birds in the trees nearby. Something on the ground perhaps? At 6:35 he suddenly dove into the ground foliage just over the waterfall, but if he'd been going after prey (a mouse?), he missed and it took a minute or two to get himself extricated from the vegetation and back onto the nice perch.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

After a few more minutes, I retreated from the scene, thinking little brother didn't need me providing further distraction from any possible prey. Also, it was evident that this particular perch would be visible from the path alongside the pond below. But watching from that vantage, I found that he was angled so that he could watch the goings on just where I was at. Hmmmm, lots of pigeons around, attracted by the kids feeding bread to the geese. Maybe I should stand farther away from the pigeons in case little brother swoops this way.

Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park Divine Red-Tailed Hawk in Morningside Park

But again no, at about 7:00, little brother did try another swoop, but it was toward the dog run and out of sight. That was the last I saw of him. A woman on the steps north of the dog run indicated she had seen a hawk back up into the trees, but it wasn't clear where, and the kids goofing off in the area were making enough noise that any helpful bird calls would have been drowned out. Perhaps enough noise that a hawk fledgling would decide to go elsewhere. And so I made my exit.

Posted 7/27/2006 11:53:00 PM by Robert

Edit Post