3/21-3/23, Here and There

Over the past three days, I checked on five red-tailed hawk nests in Manhattan. Somehow I managed to only see four actual hawks while doing so, all females and three brooding their eggs.


Friday was just the usual check-in at the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Isolde finally flew in around 6:30 and stayed in the nest for about five minutes, then flew over to the hospital roof and perched past sunset, outlasting those of us watching. James was also there to check on the hawks and reported seeing Isolde's new mate hunting starlings over on 114th St.

Saturday I began by checking on the new red-tail nest on Shepard Hall at CCNY. Wow, is that nest high up. And unfortunately the height means it's a hard nest to monitor, as a mother hawk might be brooding eggs up there and you'd never be able to tell unless you caught her and her mate doing a switch-off. In any event, I saw no hawks in the 15 minutes that I was there. There were, however, several crows on the campus quad on the other side of Shepard Hall.

Next up was a walk on the nature trail at Van Cortlandt Park. No plans and no hopes to see hawks here, as I have no idea where the VC nest is at. One part of the trail was noisy with red-wing blackbirds calling faker-abe, but this nuthatch was the most cooperative bird when it came to photography.

Van Cortlandt Nuthatch

Back to Manhattan to check in at Inwood and see the new nest and also the hawk momma reportedly sitting on eggs since last weekend. The nest proved easy to find, although not so easy to view. Although it is very close to a trail, it is also high up and the closest half-decent vantage point seems to be from another trail about 300 feet away. Of course, even as I was viewing the hawk, she was viewing me.

Inwood Red-Tail Nest

Next was a look at a possible new nest site for the Highbridge Hawks. The new site had been found a day before but I hadn't gotten directions yet. The place I did check wasn't it. Drat.

Saturday ended up with a sunset check on the cathedral nest. No hawks around that I could see.

Sunday's first nest was the new site on PS 188 on East Houston St. It was my first time down there and the nest was dead easy to find, even before I met the other three hawk watchers already there. However, the Houston momma was tucked back on her nest where all one could sometimes see was tail feathers poking up. I did get a glance at the rest of her once as she changed position and perhaps rotated her egg(s), but that was it.

The Houston hawk watchers, one photographer and a couple of neighborhood folk, have been keeping a close eye on the nest and could recite all the activity for the past couple days. They were mildly concerned that they hadn't seen the male at all on Sunday.

Sunday ended with a return to Highbridge, this time with detailed instructions on where to find the nest. Indeed, it was easy to find.

Highbridge Hawk Nest

And in fact, it proved so easy to view that it was evident that it will be one of the best nests to monitor in May, a week or two after the eggs hatch and the nestlings are big enough to look out of the nest. But as the pic shows, it gets shady early at Highbridge, and optimal viewing means getting there at least a couple hours before sunset.

Posted 3/24/2008 02:20:00 AM by Robert

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On 3/25/2008 2:58 PM , Yojimbot said...

Any luck getting in touch with the powers that be at the Cathedral? The work is really disrupting the nest. At the very least, the workmen should be aware of the danger the hawks present. Hopefully, we can make Dean Kowalski aware of the issue in such a way as all parties can reach a fair and workable solution.

On 3/25/2008 9:58 PM , rbs said...


I tried a couple more e-mail addresses today, asking for an ID and address of someone higher up at the cathedral who should could be contacted about this. Got one auto-reply vacation response and haven't heard back on the other yet.

But frankly I think an approach from NYC Audubon is going to get a better response.