6/15, Cathedral Hawk Fledging Complete

All three of the red-tailed hawk babies at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine have fledged. And one of them is already up to unexpected feats of daring.


5:44 p.m. - Arrive alongside Cathedral parking lot below hawk nest. Nest looks empty!

No hawks visible atop hospital roof or Cathedral roof, but ah-ha there's a fledgling perched on a window railing on the seventh floor of the hospital. She's preening.

5:45 - Bruce walks around corner and says he's seen an adult flying about but no babies. I point at hospital window.

Red-Tail Fledgling and House Finch

Pix later reveal that the fledgling wasn't the only bird up there, as the male house finch was perched on the ledge just below.

5:50 - No fledglings obvious on roof of St. Ansgar chapel or the Baptistry, so walk around to Morningside Drive to check other chapel roofs. From one of the usual spots for watching the nest, notice out of corner of eye that there is a hawk baby perched on the roof of St. Savior chapel. She's on the rope knot immediately behind the cross at the end of the roof.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Last year's kids liked to perch on that spot too.

6:03 - An adult is spotted up on Gabriel's horn. Looks like Tristan.

6:15 - Fledgling at hospital window is an a sort of active period. Turns around to watch the street, flaps a bit, but stays on the railing.

Red-Tail Fledgling

She seems curious about the three tall animals on the street holding shiny things pointed her direction.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Or maybe she's just eying a dog. Hmmm, and where did that finch go?

Red-Tail Fledgling

6:29 - Doublecheck nest just in case the missing baby hawk was sandbagging us by taking a nap. Nope, no sign of a hawk up there.

6:30 - Don't know where she was, but Isolde was apparently somewhere near by. We see her flying around the end of the Cathedral away from us and likely into the close. Then she appears perched on Gabriel's horn next to Tristan.

Tristan, Isolde and Gabriel

6:35 - Fledgling on St. Savior roof has moved about a bit, but is still on crest of roof no more than 15 feet from the cross.

6:39 - Hawk up! It's Tristan circling over Morningside Drive twice before heading southeast toward Central Park. Apparently off to rustle up some dinner.

6:40 - Fledgling on St. Savior has moved back out to base of cross. Falconwatcher Liz and I briefly wonder whether there are two fledglings up there alternately ducking in and out of view.

6:55 - Near 112th St. overlook of Morningside Park, chat for a bit with a couple bird/hawkwatchers who were here earlier in the week.

7:02 - Back around on 113th St., notice that Isolde has also departed Gabriel's horn.

7:04 - Two people I was chatting with point out a hawk on the cathedral rooftop finial directly above the statue of St. Matthew. I think it's Isolde. But it has tawny breast feathers? It's the missing fledgling!

Red-Tail Fledgling

And she's up on the cathedral roof on what is apparently her first day of flight! Even if there's been some sort of fledgling switch and she's actually the hawkling who fledged on Monday, well, neither of last year's cathedral baby hawks got up there until mid-June. How'd she do that?

7:05 - And zip, she leaves the finial and flies down to the crennellations on the turret above St. Andrew and the nest.

7:07 - Rooftop fledgling is interested in things below, including sibling of chapel roof. Hi down there! Look at me!

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:09 - Tail end of an adult is noticed poking out from hospital ledge directly above fledgling on window railing. Who is that?

7:10 - Chapel roof fledgling is looking this way with interest. So is crennellation fledgling.

7:12 - Now adult tail feathers are poking from corner of hospital roof. Better than even odds say this is Tristan preparing dinner.

7:13 - Tristan flies over to cathedral roof, but near the transept and nowhere near fledgling.

7:14 - Thirty seconds later Tristan flies toward fledgling above St. Andrew and... into the nest? Huh? Fledgling looks as confused as I am.

7:15 - Over a minute later, Tristan exits nest, flies back across 113th St. and lands on window railing next to fledgling.

7:16 - Tristan's obviously got food in claw, but he's just standing there while fledgling does the twisted head stare.

Red-Tail Father and Fledgling

What have you got there, Dad?

Red-Tail Father and Fledgling

Is that for me?

Red-Tail Father and Fledgling

Apparently not, because Tristan stays less than a minute, then with food still tightly gripped — it's a small bird of some sort, as I can see birdy feet dangling — flies over to air conditioner two windows away.

7:17 - If this is supposed to be a clever ploy to get the fledgling to fly over to get its dinner, it's not working. Instead it's Isolde who flutters up and lands next to Tristan. Now it almost looks like Tristan is eating.

What's on Your Air Conditioner?

Well, maybe not.

What's on Your Air Conditioner?

7:18 - Then Tristan takes off again, and ten seconds later so does Isolde. She's not carrying anything.

Isolde Takes Flight

7:19 - Now Isolde is in the nest. Fledgling 15 feet above is looking down trying to figure what's up.

7:20 - Isolde flies back across street and perches on hospital chimney.

7:23 - We haven't checked on the chapel roof fledgling in a while. What's she up to? Jumping on the cross, that's what. Right now she's on one of the cross arms.

7:31 - Isolde back over to cathedral, this time perching on rooftop finial directly above statue of St. Peter (one statue left of St. Andrew).

7:34 - Tristan re-appears and perches on hospital roof. Takes off again, flies up Morningside Drive, comes back, and perches on higher part of roof.

7:36 - Fledgling on hospital window railing is either not interested in food on air conditioner, or else there's no food there. She's still on her railing, and looks so quiet one wonders if she's asleep.

7:41 - Walked down Morningside Drive to see if there was a better-lit angle of Isolde. Sort of, but mainly I notice that she gets buzzed by a kestrel a half dozen times.

Angry Isolde

7:43 - Chapel roof fledgling has jumped up on top of the cross.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:48 - Back up on 113th St., notice rooftop motion and realize that rooftop fledgling has flown 25 feet southeast so that she is now perched on the crennellations above St. Peter and directly below mama.

Red-Taile Fledgling

8:01 - All five family members still in their respective same spots. It's really time for me to leave.

8:02 - No, it's not. As I'm starting my exit, dogwalker Dottie and a couple people in the doctors' parking lot are acting excited. Apparently the fledgling on the cathedral roof has jumped off, and soared right into the treetop directly above my head, a distance of about 275 feet. All while I was looking the other way.

Really? Are you sure? Well, there's no fledgling up there any more (although it could have jumped down behind a crennellation) and Isolde has vacated her finial, too.

8:05 - Finally with help from parking lot guard, I manage to spot feathery white hind end of fledgling moving about high up in the tree.

8:10 - Exit.

Posted 6/15/2007 11:52:00 PM by Robert

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