May 5, 2008

5/3, Highbridge Feeding, and CCNY Hawk v. Crow

Highbridge Hawk Feeding
5:00 Feeding

Saturday was another gray, gloomy day, but there are hawk nestlings to watch. So onward and uptown.

Highbridge Park:
First up to 190th St. Arrived at the Highbridge nest viewing point at about 4:40 and found that Martha, the mama red-tail, was sitting high in the nest and looking around. It was a bit chilly, but she may have been fluffed up in order to let feathers dry out after the dreary weather.

Highbridge Red-Tail Mama

After 4:50, Martha started looking around inside the nest like there might some nestlings fussing around in there with her. Finally, just before 5:00, the first nestling head pops up where it can be seen.

Highbridge Red-Tail Mama

A couple minutes later Martha stood up on the far side of the nest, and although I didn't quite realize it at the moment, two nestling heads were just visible.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

And then a feeding began.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

As ever, a baby hawk's ambition is sometimes larger than his beak.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

More, please!

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

Dinner was kind of grayish, perhaps with a pale spot. I couldn't decide, though, whether it was squirrel or pigeon.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

The nestling obviously didn't ask such questions.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

The feeding has gone on for a few minutes, but so far I have only seen just one nestling. Perhaps I'm confused because it does seem like dinner has a pale fuzzy spot, like a squirrel's belly fur. Perhaps it's just my eyesight.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

But finally it becomes apparent that two nestlings are sitting almost in a line with each other. Most likely they've been alternating and I just haven't caught them at it. But here one is getting a bite while the other turns partially around and looks out of the nest.

Highbridge Hawk Feeding

The last bite was served out at 5:11. The nestlings laid down immediately for a post-meal nap, and then Martha plopped down in the nest with them.

I hung around a few more minutes, but it was apparent that unless Martha decided to get some exercise or her mate George happened to check in, there wasn't going to be any more activity for some time.

Arrived on St. Nicholas Terrace below the red-tail nest just past 6:00. At first there was no sign of activity, but within minutes, the female stood up. Although she was standing on the outside of the nest looking in, it looked like she might be feeding herself rather than nestlings.

Well, presumably she wasn't feeding nestlings, as just a couple minutes later, she dove out of the nest and circled around the north side of Shepard Hall. Soon she re-appeared directly above the tower, kiting in what was turning out to be a seriously gusty breeze. But uh-oh, who's that up there with her? Sure enough, one of the campus crows, perhaps the same one I'd seen just before I reached the nest, had flown up to harass her.

CCNY Red-Tail and Crow

They tussled around up there for a half minute before the crow dropped back down. The hawk flew down toward the nest, but bypassed it and landed on a projection on the tower corner counterclockwise from the nest. She didn't stay long but popped back up and hovered. Then she flew back down on the campus side of the Shepard Hall again. What, is she going to challenge the crow again? No, she quickly re-appeared directly above the tower, and then folded her wings a bit and parachuted down to the nest.

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Stuck out her legs...

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And landed at home.

CCNY Red-Tail

Then made sure that the crow hadn't followed her.

CCNY Red-Tail

Looked around a bit.

CCNY Red-Tail

And then settled down where she couldn't be seen.

I reached the Morningside nest area a bit before 7:00 and there was nothing to be seen. It was dark and gloomy, of course, but there was no sign of red-tail activity. Further, the hawks had stuck a leafy twig into the north side of the nest so that it wouldn't be possible to see anything but a standing adult.

But... Lincoln had been there earlier in the day and apparently witnessed a feeding. You can be sure I'll be here when it's sunnier and brighter on Sunday

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