6/11, First Fledge?

Monday was exactly one year since the first red-tailed hawk baby of the 2006 season fledged from the Cathedral nest.

Seemingly, June 11 must be a lucky day.

(Skipping pix for the way. The most interesting ones form a 15-20 shot sequence of a flapping nestling, but they're badly lit and it would take too long to create an animation.)


Left my office to walk over to the Cathedral just as rain started to sprinkle.

6:46 p.m. - Arrive at 113th St. viewpoint as rain is beginning to come down harder. First get out binoculars to see what the red-tail nestlings are up to, as I can see the pale frontside of one on the north side of the nest.

6:49 - Rain really beginning to come down now, but I'm close to a big tree with lots of foliage so stick with the binoculars rather than get out the umbrella.

Suddenly Isolde appears in view, zipping up into the nest from the south, or possibly somewhere below. She perches on St. Andrew's hand (see kids, this is how it's done) and then a minute later is off again.

6:50 - Finally have the camera out and take a picture. Just two nestlings visible, standing up and watching the rain fall.

Oh, you silly bird! The nestling on the north side has decided that now would be a good time to hop out on St. Andrew's hand.

6:51 - Flap-flap. Back into the nest. Wisening up now, girl?

6:52 - Ah! No. She's trying again. And this is one of the tentative sidesteps rather than a real hop. Backs off.

6-53 - Trying again! Biiiiig sidestep. Whoa. She's either losing her balance or else has discovered what rain does to stonework. She's slipping.

Some sort of metastable point is reached. She's not perched on St. Andrew's forefinger, but she's got a wing draped over his hand and she's steady for a moment as she thinks about what to do next.

6:54 - Flap-flap-flap. I can see both of her feet sticking out from each side of St. Andrew's thumb as she slips and slides. But as graceless as it looks, a second later she's climbing back in the nest.

6:56 - Y'know. One other sibling was watching the entire experiment intently, but what's the other one doing? I don't see her at all.

6:59 - Belately discover Isolde perched on Gabriel's horn, getting very wet.

7:00 - Winkie walks up and says she was by a bit earlier and has only seen the two nestlings. Also, mama Isolde has been sticking close to the nest and even circling about overhead. Three of us begin to theorize that the missing nestling has fledged.

7:03 - Rain has dropped off and we start wandering along Morningside Drive, listening for nestling noises.

7:10 - We confab down by the Cathedral School. No hint of a nestling near the sidewalk on the west side of the street.

7:30 - One of our dogwalker and hawkwatcher friends (Captain's person) swings by and reveals the apparent scoop.

While walking Captain earlier in the day, she found out that a nestling had fledged just after 11:00 from a hawkwatcher who had been there. The baby apparently landed on the roof of Ansgar or Boniface chapel, or else got up on one of them quickly. It's curiosity was piqued by workmen 50 feet south on the scaffolding atop the Baptistry, but they apparently did not return the looks.

7:48 - Wow, almost 45 minutes since I last took a picture. But there's been nothing new to photograph.

Two of us (the other is a falconwatcher down from Riverside Church to check out the neighbors) have cruised up and down Morningside Drive between 113th St. and the Cathedral School, and west along 113th to little clinic entrance. We've scanned chapel roofs -- peering through the railing along the edge of the roof of Ansgar chapel, peering back into the recesses of Boniface, and tried to see what we could of Columba through the foliage -- nada. Listened for noises in the foliage along the street -- more nada.

Meanwhile, Isolde's been perched on Gabriel's horn the entire time, and whenever we've checked the nets, it's just been two nestlings.

8:05 - I'm by myself now. Shoot a few more pix of the nest. One thing we have noticed several times is that a nestling on the north side of the nest has peered over and downward many times. Is the missing nestling/fledgling on a chapel roof below? If so, the peering nestling seems more curious than attentive to whatever might be down there.

8:20 - First and only glance of Tristan of the evening, as I happen to see him flying north across 113th St., halfway down the block toward Amsterdam Ave. Despite checking the obvious spots on the hospital roof, that's the one time I see him.

8:28 - Lighting sucks; last try to take hawk pictures. Isolde's still up on the roof. The two nestlings are still standing around in the nest. Put camera away.

8:34 - One last meander down Morningside Drive listening for baby hawk squeeps in the foliage overhead.

No squeeps, but a chitter. A fat raccoon is climbing over the chain link fence by Columba chapel, but on meeting me stops, then crawls back down the other side.

8:40 - Exit.

Posted 6/12/2007 12:48:00 AM by Robert

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