1/24, Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tail

January 24

With several alternatives to choose from for Saturday hawkwatching, I opted for a late afternoon visit to Tompkins Square Park. But as the light started to dim and the air get colder and no hawk was to be seen, I began to make a move toward leaving. But wait, it turns out that one of the two juvenile red-tails who's been hanging about the area is in the southwest corner of the park, overlooking Ave. A.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Within a couple minutes, she flies 100 feet deeper into the park. A couple of us theorize it's because she doesn't like the singing voice of one of the people hanging about near where she'd been perched.

She perches on a thick branch for a couple minutes, then hops down on one of the pathside fences, and gets to some serious looking around.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

And makes eye contact a few times.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

As this is going on, I learn lots of details about her habits from one of the local hawkwatchers. The locals figure the hawk is a she, because there's another immature hawk in the area who's smaller. The girl apparently likes squirrel meat, while the boy prefers pigeons. There's also an adult that's been seen, and guesswork is that there could be a nest over toward the ConEd plant at 13th St. and the FDR. (Of course, that's just a half mile north of the last year's PS188 nest on Houston St.)

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After a few minutes on the fence, the hawk hops down onto the fenced-off lawn near-by and begins checking out a dead squirrel that's laying there.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After some finagling, she begins pulling off what tidbits she can get. This takes quite a while, during which I learn that the squirrel carcass is leftover from a meal she had a couple days ago. It's been laying in snow for most of the time.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

After close to 10 minutes, she's done with the remnants of the squirrel. Back onto the fence for a beak-cleaning.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Then over to a low tree branch near Avenue A. There she does a lot of ogling of the ground cover. I'm told that this is a prime spot for mice. And as her crop doesn't looking very full, it looks like the hawk has had a poor afternoon of hunting and a few bits of old squirrel haven't been enough to quench her appetite.

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

A couple squirrels are moving around on branches overhead, but the hawk has apparently figured out that they're quicker than she is in these circumstances. It's more looking about for mice.

But no luck. Around 5:15 she turns around and flies off toward the center of the park. Sunset is past, so she's likely heading for a roosting spot.

Posted 1/24/2009 10:08:00 PM by Robert

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