Christmas: MoHi Juvenile Red-Tail

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail
Juvie Red-Tail in Broadway median

My sister reported seeing a hawk over Broadway and 110th the weekend of Dec. 13 but I didn't know whether to believe her. But then on the 16th, I watched two red-tails interact right at that corner. One flew in from the north and looked as if it was about to perch on a high ledge, but then another leapt off the ledge, and both flew west toward Riverside Park. One of the pair was definitely an adult, and I'm now inclined to think that the episode was a territorial chase-off of a juvie.

Today's hawkwatching started with 45 minutes or so of looking around Riverside Park in the 100s, with the only result being a possible hawk sighting right at the start, flying high over the Henry Hudson and headed north. Realizing that the complete lack of pigeons in the area suggested I wouldn't find any hawk in Riverside, I exited. Around 12:15, I was in Morningside Heights at the corner of Broadway and 111th and wondering if that really was blue jays I dimly heard over the sound of light holiday traffic. And then a block up Broadway, a twisting burst of pigeons in the air. A moment later, something large landed on a lamppost in the median.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

A red-tail indeed. It quickly shifted to a tree closer to 111th St., where I could see it was a brown-tailed juvie, then clumsily turned around to face my way.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Saw that I was watching and glared back.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Glared a bit more.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Blinked.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Then sat up a bit and looked around at the pigeons.

Then into the air, but only to land on top the 112th St. lamppost again. It was apparently looking my way, because just a few moments later it flew my way and landed in the center of the northbound lanes of Broadway about 15 feet away. Apparently a miniscule bit of roadkill had its attention. That's not a good sign... this must be a hungry hawk.

Seeing that the M104 was quickly approaching, I stepped out into the street to shoo the hawk out of danger. It glared but took off when I got even closer. It landed in a tree in the median and gave me the hairy eyeball for the next half minute.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Take a closer look at the photo. Something I didn't realize at the time was that the hawk always perched on its right foot, never on its left foot or on both. Also, there were some straggly, matted feathers on its left side. And a real close look at the pix suggests more dried blood on its right foot than would be typical after a meal. It very much seems that this juvenile red-tail has had an injury on its left side and it can't put any weight on its left foot. One wonders if it's even able to use the left foot's talons to catch prey, as that would explain why it was interested in tiny morsels of roadkill on a major avenue.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

It finally sat up and looked around.

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

Another minute later it was off, heading south. A burst of pigeons around 110th, but I wasn't able to spot where it had gone.

But that wasn't the last sighting of the day.

Sitting in my sister's kitchen over the next couple hours, I'd see the occasional erratic activity of perturbed pigeons over Broadway. Just before 1:00, something big and brown flew by, headed north.

Then around 2:15, looking out the window... who's that on the lamppost at 111th St.?

MoHi Juvie Red-Tail

A minute or two later, he shifted north to a lamppost between 112th and 113th Sts. perched for a couple minutes, and moved somewhere out of sight.

Ten minutes later, there was the sound of crows cawing over Broadway, and I saw one crow land in a tree near 111th St. A minute later, the hawk appeared from somewhere close and headed south. The crows chased him for a half block, then flew back, satisfied that their job was done.

Posted 12/25/2008 03:55:00 PM by Robert

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