2/26-2/27, New Guy in Town

Two Hawks at St. Luke's
The "New Guy" and Isolde at St. Luke's

Monday I saw two adult red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, but wasn't able to decide whether one of them was Tristan and whether all concern could be allayed about the injured hawk report from last week.

Wednesday, two adult red-tails were again seen, but this time both provided a good view so that identification could be made. One was Isolde. The other was not Tristan. It does indeed look like something dire has happened to Tristan, and that a new guy has already arrived to court Isolde.

Supposed to rain today, but it holds off for a while.

1:38 p.m. - Arrive at cathedral area and immediately see a red-tailed hawk perched on Gabriel's horn, ignoring workers putting up scaffolding along eaves perhaps 40 feet away. Sky is overcast and seriously dreary so it's almost impossible to get a sense of color and to decide what hawk this might be. Probably a medium-ish belly band, though, so it can't be Tristan.

1:40 - Hawk exits Gabriel's horn and flies south east, circles over Douglass Circle and Great Hill area several times. No sign of a missing tail feather as it flew overhead, so it evidently wasn't the juvie who's been hanging around. Isolde?

1:42 - Red-tail seen flying eastward over Morningside Park and into Harlem at about 114th St. Probably a different hawk.

1:45 - A hawk back on top of Gabriel's horn. Although perched facing south, it is looking over its shoulder at the workers on the scaffolding.

Red-Tail on Gabriel's Horn

1:47 - Hawk flies off. I leave, too. Rain starts.

Headed over to Cathedral area at about 4:30 p.m.

4:40 - First hawk sighting of day... something large just landed on the roof of the Verizon building at Manhattan Avenue and 108th.

Red-Tail in Manhattan Valley

4:42 - Red-tail exits Verizon building and flies west across Columbus Ave. and keeps going, disappearing behind an apartment building. Maybe it's taking the long way around and will fly up Amsterdam Ave. to the cathedral?

Red-Tail over Manhattan Valley

4:50 - From down in Morningside Park, no one visible atop the cathedral or hospital.

4:59 - Second hawk sighting of day. After reading the species sign nailed to an osage orange tree north of the Morningside Park dog run, I look up thinking "oranges?" and see the visiting Cooper's hawk is perched 20-30 feet up.

Cooper's Hawk in Morningside Park

5:03 - Coopie exits osage tree and flies south to tree overhanging dog run.

5:07 - A red-tail flies out of the cathedral/hospital area, passes over the dog run and continues out over Harlem. It circles several times in the area around Douglass Blvd. and 116th St. before I lose track of it.

5:10 - Red-tail spotted perched atop Wadleigh School on 114th St. Within seconds it leaps off and flies south toward Great Hill in Central Park.

5:12 - Cooper's is still perched by dog run.

5:14 - Having exited dog run area, I spot two red-tails perched atop the Towers on the Park building at 301 West 110th St. One is on the support rod for a chimney, where I've never seen one perch before.

Red-Tails on 110th St.

5:16 - While I'm trying for a spot with a better view, I see one red-tail leave 301 and fly south. Other red-tail is no longer up there either.

5:25 - I'm across street from cathedral, killing time until I figure the red-tails would go to roost, when James walks up.

5:27 - While James is reviewing pix on my camera's screen, a hawks flies from cathedral (Where was it? It hadn't been on the roof.) across 113th St. and perches on a sixth floor window railing on the Morningside Drive side of St. Luke's Hospital.

Isolde at St. Luke's

5:28 - Hawk at the hospital railing looks like Isolde. Pix reveal blood on her beak and talons, so she's recently eaten.

5:30 - Yowzah. A hawk just came flying straight across Morningside Park and alit next to Isolde. But he's got his back to us so we can't see if it's Tristan, only that he has a bright red tail.

Two Hawks at St. Luke's

5:31 - He's turned a little, and it looks like he and Isolde are checking each other out.

Two Hawks at St. Luke's

5:32 - Second hawk now in profile.

5:33 - Second hawk completes turning around so that his front is to the street. Both James and I immediately say, "New guy."

This hawk has a medium-heavy belly band and cannot be Tristan. Tristan's belly band was lighter than Pale Male's.

Two Hawks at St. Luke's

Furthermore, after later reviewing pix on my computer screen, I decide that he's also got relatively light eyes (see first pic above). He may have an adult's red-tail, but this hawk is fairly young, maybe even just two years old.

5:34 - New guy flies over to a rusty air conditioner in hospital window 60-70 feet north. Leans over like maybe there's food stashed.

5:35 - New guy changes spot again and flies over to decorative urn on southeast corner of hospital roof, "Tristan's urn".

5:40 - New guy flies to an air conditioner near the one he was on a few minutes ago. Isolde hasn't budged from her perch on the window railing.

Hawk at St. Luke's

5:44 - Official sunset time at LGA.

5:48 - New guy takes off, flies north up Morningside Drive.

5:52 - I can't find anyone perched in usual roosting tree, so maybe new guy has his own preferred roosting spot. (Then again, if he's that new, he hasn't had time to establish a preference.) James says it looked like the hawk flew eastward into Harlem.

5:58 - Back at corner of Morningside Drive and 113th St. Isolde's still perched in window. We chat with a dogwalker who described some hawk activity (a juvie chase-off?) a week or two ago

6:06 - Time to leave. Isolde's still perched in the same hospital window. Maybe she's going to roost there rather than a tree?

So there it is. Tristan seems to be gone and a replacement has already arrived. As James noted, the city is crawling with red-tails these days, so even though isolde would find a new mate sooner or later, we shouldn't be surprised that it happened so darn quickly.

Posted 2/27/2008 09:22:00 PM by Robert

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1 Comment:

On 2/28/2008 3:15 PM , Ben C. said...

Thanks for the update and confirmation on the new male Red-tailed Hawk. This is a similar situation, with the genders reversed, to Pale Male when he lost one of his mates (forget which one exactly) which was replaced within days.

Somehow it is known that the territory is missing a specific gender that gets filled in fairly quickly from the surrounding unmated RTs in the area.

What this signal is and how it is communicated is one of many remarkable things about Red-tailed Hawks and birds in general.

Thanks again.