7/26, Close Again


Two red-tail fledgling sightings this evening, but no way to tell if it was two separate birds or just one.

First checked the Close on the south side of the Cathedral of St. Jphn the Divine. Just some sleepy peacocks.

Sleepy Peacock

From there, down 110th St. and into Morningside Park. At 6:30, there were robin alerts going off north and east of the dog run. After a minute I hadn't spotted the target of their ire and was watching the geese harass a dog walker and a greyhound/whippet-like dog. Then a hawk came zooming of the trees over the steps behind me, dived down low over the geese on the lawn east of the pond, did a U-turn and headed back uphill alongside the willow tree. There was a quick glimpse of a brown tail (fledgling!), along with two smaller birds in tight pursuit.

For a long time, that five seconds of excitement looked to be it for the evening. One robin kept complaining near Morningside Ave. for a few minutes, then quieted down. In the hour after that, the only suggestive noises were intermittent blue jay calls near the dog run, and then a bit of catbird squalling near the 116 Steps.

Bailed out of Morningside Park around 7:40 but again checked the cathedral Close. Ah, suggestive robin complaints. And there's a red-tail fledge perched on a tree overhanging of the Peace Garden.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Looks like Brownie.

She started hopping around in the branches, perhaps to avoid bombarding robins, perhaps to lunge at the worst of the harassers.

Red-Tail Fledgling

(Yes, I know. Overcast, humid skies, getting close to sunset, and moving targets. Feh.)

After five minutes, Brownie had had enough and flew over to the roof of the Synod House.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Perched there for a few minutes.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Then she dived down to Pulpit Lawn, a bit closer to the Peace Garden than the pulpit. Was she attacking something? From 100 feet away, I initially couldn't see anything, but was bemused to see her standing 20 feet away from the white peacock stepping across the grass. They studiously ignored each other.

Getting much closer, it looked like Brownie had something in her talons.

Red-Tail Fledgling

She'd stand there and look around, sometimes bend over and rip something off with her beak. Then she'd leap into the air and shake her feet. I figured she had caught something but hand't quite managed to kill it.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Finally I realized that while I was running around to get closer, Brownie had attacked a piece of paper lying on the lawn. (Drat. So much for witnessing a successful hunt.) Now she was having trouble getting rid of it.

Red-Tail Fledgling

I'd been chatting with one of the cathedral guards while this was going on. Soon enough he needed to lock up the Peace Garden for the night. As we exited, Brownie shifted over to the base of the pulpit and was last seen there at 8:10.

And finally, another Harlem panorama, using new pictures and different software. The software was better but Tuesday had better lighting.

Harlem Panorama 2
Posted 7/27/2007 04:58:00 PM by Robert

7/24, Dad on His Own

Tristan on Gabriel's Horn

Again no sign of the red-tail fledglings around the Cathedral of St. John or in Morningside Park, despite looking about for about an hour and a half. Their papa, Tristan, did show up to survey the family domain between 6:15 and 6:30 and was still keeping watch when I exited at 7:15.

Since the kids fledged from the cathedral nest, there has only been one occasion when I saw all three together, back on Sunday, July 8, and a couple other days when I spotted each one of them. Several times two were perched together, such as the days that two were hanging about on the Cathedral School roof and the day that two were playing "peck your sister" at the south end of the park. Now it seems that the chances of catching the fledglings together are getting dimmer, as various hawkwatchers are guessing that an immature red-tail recently seen in Central Park near West 82nd St. must be one of the cathedral kids and not Ziggy from CP South.

Update: A panorama that I shot while roaming about. Click on the image to go through to Flickr and see larger versions.

Harlem Panorama

Posted 7/24/2007 08:45:00 PM by Robert

7/21, Getting in Close

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling


Like Friday, another long spell in Morningside Park without a red-tailed hawk sighting. Entered the park about 6:05 p.m. and made two circuits, one all the way up to 120th St. Not much to see except the egret still/again hanging about the pond. Some sort of large function in the north, with barbecue, so any noise-minded hawk would have long vacated the premises. Elsewhere, the small birds are quiet, providing no help in finding hawks.

After a long sit and almost a nap on a hillside near the southwest corner of the park, exited the park just before 7:40. But having seen a fledgling fly into the cathedral Close on Friday and all the robin noise in there on Tuesday, decided to continue enjoying the nice weather with a stroll around the Close.

Whoa, I hear robins. But no hawk in sight. There's the white peacock wondering around the lawn, and there's the two "regular" peacocks sitting on the guard rail where they like to perch. Stop a moment to examine an interesting piece of "furniture" where two paths join, look up, and a hawk girl is perched 15 feet away in plain sight, right on the railing on the front of the old Leake & Watt orphanage building.

Almost immediately she flies 200 feet west and perches in a tree overlooking the drive, then a minute later another 125 feet to the scaffolding around the narthex south tower. Hey! There're two of them there. The first one seen (apparently) flaps up to a platform about 40 feet up where I can only intermittently see her, while the second hops around a bit about 25 feet off the ground, first looking up to see what her sister is doing...

Red-Tail and Scaffolding

... then to look around at what's on the ground.

Red-Tail and Scaffolding

Meanwhile, the fledge upstairs begins to trundle along the platform heading toward Amsterdam Ave. Then as she gets close to the street side of the tower, the lower one flies up to join her. I rush out to the street. Just one of the duo is visible from across Amsterdam.

Red-Tail and Scaffolding

There's the impression that something has flown off the platform back into the close, then the fledge in view turns around and also disappears.

Five minutes later I finally re-spot one of the fledges as she jumps off the same branch where one had been ten minutes ago, dives down and across the Pulpit Lawn, goes through (!?) what I assume is the eponymous pulpit, and tries to snag a squirrel or small bird on the south side of the lawn. A miss, and she banks left and back up into a tree. Then another leap and attempt to snatch a squirrel on the north side of the lawn by the flowers. Miss again.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Squirrel runs across grass nearby and jumps onto tree. Fledge gives it a dirty look.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Then she flies up and perches on the pulpit.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Watches calmly as a squirrel walks along the ground below, then casually over at few people (mostly tourists) wandering about.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

What, you can't see me here?

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

About 8:10, the guard starts pushing us all out. The fledgling remains where she is.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

She's just visible from a few places out on the street, and at 8:20 she's still perched on the pulpit. Sunset officially at 8:22. The pulpit perch doesn't look like the best spot to roost, but one expects that the fledgling went to bed close by.


Only had about 45 minutes in the park/cathedral area, from about 6:15 to 7:00. No hawks seen, and probably not heard either. Small birds didn't seem to have anything to say about them, although they may have been drowned out by the noisy postgame from an adult softball match.

Posted 7/23/2007 10:52:00 PM by Robert

7/20, Late Appearance


Missed a couple days because of work and the weather. This, however, is an absolutely gorgeous evening to be looking for red-tail fledglings.

Entered Morningside Park just after 6:10, but for more than an hour the only bird of interest to be seen was the great egret who's been hanging around the pon of late (assuming it's always been the same one).

630 DSC_0090.JPG

Two long walks around the park, including one up the goat path as far as 118th St. and nada for hawks. The robins and catbirds have been useless and about the only bird noises have been chatting sparrows. Well, it is getting into late July, and one has to consider that it won't be too long before the fledglings make their departures.

7:16 - Parked on a bench along the west side of the ball fields, on the verge of getting up and leaving. Sundely a hawk comes flying over, from north to south, and alights in the top of a tree about 50 feet to my right.

7:17 - She flies straight across the park and into the trees along Manhattan Ave. and a moment later shifts brancches.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:20 - then back across the park to a tree near the southwest corner entrance.

7:21 - And to a tree along 110th St. A moment later the catbirds in the berry bushes nearby finally wake up and start complaining. The fledge shifts perches a bit, possibly from being harasses by some small birds.

Red-Tail Fledgling

She gives the pests some dirty looks.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:26 - Then back to the air and into the tall tree by the corner entrance where the fledges have been found several times and where some of us can take pictures from along Morningside Drive.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Getting a better look at her now. The belly band suggests that this is Brownie.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Also, her crop looks empty. Those intent stares she's been making might be part of looking for a bedtime snack.

7:32 - Shift branch. Stare across street at construction site.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:34 - Then back to the air. She flies across Morningside Drive and over the construction site, then banks right and flies amongst the buildings of the cathedral Close.

7:44 - Nothing back in the close. Well, three peacocks, yes, but no sign of the hawk fledgling. No complaints from robins like I heard on Tuesday, either. Maybe she did a U-turn and exited the Close over the playground north of the school.

Posted 7/22/2007 12:09:00 AM by Robert

7/17, Dinner on the Overlook


Not quite as nice as Monday, but the weather is decent.

6:44 - Moments after walking down the steps at the southwest corner entrance of Morningside Park, a hawk is visible circling about over Manhattan Ave, up around 112th and 113th Sts. Even at this distance, it's fairly apparent through teh camera viewfinder that the tail is brown, so it's a fledgling.

Red-Tail Fledgling over Morningside Park

And then she shoots across the park and up somewhere above the 116 Steps.

Red-Tail Fledgling over Morningside Park

6:50 - And after climbing up the hill, too, and looking around a minute, the fledgling is plainly visible on a tree branch overhanging the 112th St. overlook and the sidewalk along Morningside Drive. She has her face buried in something.

Focus, Baby, Focus

No sign of an adult around, so if there was a food hand-off, I missed it. But whatever dinner is, it doesn't look very big so maybe the fledge caught it herself.

Red-Tail Fledgling Feeds

7:06 - Despite the small size, dinner kept the fledgling occupied for 15 minutes, and several pedestrians got an eyeful. I had to assure one jogger that seeing a red-tail easting dinner in a tree along a Manhattan sidewalk is not a weird thing to happen. Almost the contrary these days.

The fledge has stuff all over her beak...

Red-Tail Fledgling Apres Dinner

... so it's time for some vigorous scraping along the branch.

7:07 - Look around for a few minutes.

Red-Tail Fledgling Apres Dinner

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:10 - Then fly across the street to a tree overhanging the opposite sidewalk near St. Boniface Chapel.

Red-Tail Fledgling

7:12 - Flap over to an adjacent tree.

7:13 - Then up to a branch overhanging the center-line of Morningside Drive. mess about with the loose bark on a branch. Again, that might be beak hygiene.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Hmmm, checking that belly band, I'd guess it's Eldest.

7:23 - Except for turning around to look the other way, the fledge is still on the same branch. Preened a little bit, too, so despite being directly above traffic, she may be planning to stay here a bit. Perhaps I'll wander back into Morningside Park to see if her sibs are around.

7:45 - No one down below except the six geese and the great egret who's been hanging around lately. Time to exit.

7:48 - From corner of Amsterdam Ave. and 112th St., it sounds like there is robin chiriping coming from around the scaffolding on the cathedral's narthex south tower.

7:51 - Robins have definitely been upset about something, but no hawk that I can see. Maybe it was a kestrel?

Posted 7/21/2007 10:53:00 PM by Robert

7/16, Backstop Hawk


Beautiful day.

5:34 p.m. - Tristan is at the Cathedral, perched up top on Gabriel's horn.

Tristan the Red-Tail

5:53 - After walking arcound south end of Morningside Park, stop at pond to take pictures of the great egret perching within just a few feet of people.

Morningside Park Egret

But wait, what's that screeching?

5:55 - Yep, a red-tail fledgling perched in a tree at the bottom of the 116 Steps hill.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

Now, who is this? Belly band is not heavy, so it's not Brownie. Could be either Eldest or Youngest.

Not clear whose attention she's trying to get with the screeching. Tristan is still up on the Cathedral roof, but the fledge can see there from here.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

6:06 - As jazz band set up by the pond dives into the first chart of a free show for park users (very Basie; the first few tunes sound straight off his April in Paris album), fledge flits over to adjacent tree. Meanwhile, a couple paassing by stops to chat, and one mentions that they saw all three of the fledglings perched together on the near-by baseball backstop a few days earlier. Then the fledge flies up into the trees to the south.

6:18 - After heading up the hill, looking around and then taking the path down to the southwest corner of the park, arrive back on lower level just in time to see the fledgling fly out of the trees and land on the fresh logs, less than ten feet from a couple guys sitting on a bench.

Morningside Park Users

Initially they have no clue she's there, but when she hops down to the ground they realize what's behind them.

6:19 - And then she flies up to perch on the backstop screen.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

Lovely location for a photographer to get close and take pix, but the fledgling is pretty backlit from a lot of angles. On the other hand, there are some colorful backdrops from other angles.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

She seems to like the spot, and realatively quickly gets used to the sounds from a couple kids practicing batting and fielding on the diamond below.

What Lovely Talons You Have Spider-Man Eyes

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

6:38 - After looking around for 20 minutes, the fledge flies off to the backstop onto ground on the hillside on the other side of the path.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

A failed leap for prey? If so, she missed. She does pick somethingup in her beak but decides she doesn't like it, then looks around in consternation. (Well, okay, that's the way they look half the time anyway.)

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

And glares at a candy wrapper.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

6:39 - And then flies back up to the backstop.

6:48 - And another flight down to the ground, looking around some rocks a little further up the hill.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

She jogs around a bit, but doesn't move more than 10 feet from where she landed.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

6:51 - Back up to the backstop.

6:54 - And then across the park to a tree near the 113th St. entrance.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

6:55 - Back to the rockface.

6:56 - And up to the top of a tree to the south.

As I'm angling around for a position where I can get an idea what she's up to up there, I realize there are sounds of "hey, camera guy" coming from a woman letting her dog play on the ballfield. She indicates that there is another hawk perched on apartment building across Manhattan Ave. Sure enough, there's a fledgling on a chimney alongside someone's roof deck at the corner of 112th St.

Roof-Deck Hawk

6:58 - And meanwhile, fledgling number takes to the air again, circles around and up over Morningside Drive, disappears into the cathedral close area, then flies back out and up to perch on the rooftop finial above the statue of St. James the Great.

Fledgling on Finial

7:00 - Back to checking in the second fledgling from streetside.

Roof-Deck Hawk

Darkish belly band, so this is probably Brownie.

Roof-Deck Hawk

Unlike the first one, Brownie has a full crop, and a smug look on her beak.

Roof-Deck Hawk

7:08 - Time for me to start heading out. First across the park.

7:11 - Check on fledgling from along Morningside Drive.

Apse Cross and Finials

7:16 - Definitely a fledgling up there. No switcheroos with an adult.

Fledgling on Finial

7:18 - And finally exit.

Posted 7/21/2007 12:43:00 AM by Robert