March 18, 2009

3/18, North Central Park Red-Tails and Screech Owl

No sign of hawk activity when I passed by the cathedral just after 6:00. What with the beautiful weather, I decided to mosey over to Central Park. But alas, it seemed, for no hawks were to be found as I made a circuit past the Block House. I was on the verge of turning around so that I could make a late look-see in Morningside Park when I bumped into Bruce on his way to do some owlwatching. He easily talked me into tagging along.

But as we approached the area where the North Woods eastern screech owls roost, a big brown shape buzzed across the park road, about 5 feet off the ground and 50 feet ahead. It perched in a tree along the slope of the Great Hill and I angled to get a better vantage.

Central Park Juvenile Red-tail

A brown tail and two good eyes, so it's a juvenile, but not the one-eyed hawk I ran into a couple weeks ago in the nearby projects. Perhaps it's the juvie who's been hanging about Morningside Park the last week?

But hold it, while I was approaching the young hawk, Bruce had realized there was an adult perched in a tree just the other side of the road.

Central Park Adult Red-tail

Note the fairly light colored eye. That and the posture indicate that this is not Isolde from the cathedral, and the eye color seems too light for it to be her mate Norman. Looks like we have a visitor.

A moment later, both hawks were in the air. The juvenile landed in a tree high over the stream, not far away from the road. The adult headed toward the bridge over by Lasker Rink, but turned around and ended up in a tree about halfway back.

We watched the pair from the edge of the road for the next 10 minutes. I then made a pass through the woods and found the juvenile in a tree near where the adult had been. A minute later he took off south. As he flew overhead, it looked like he might have been missing a primary from his right wing.

By then, it was just about sunset, and owlwatchers were gathering. Soon they were rewarded with the sight of the gray female poking a sleepy eye up.

The Sleeper Awakes

She stayed quiet for about 10 minutes, moving no more than was necessary to view the world with both eyes.

March 18

And then about 20 minutes after sunset, she stood up in her roost.

Central Park Screech Owl

And within a couple minutes took off on her nightly rounds. The other owlwatchers began their trek to see if they could her movements, and perhaps spot the red male.


  1. Hi,
    Left a message for Bobby Horvath but wanted to leave one here also in case you can help. A friend spotted an injured (probably hit by car) red-tail hawk on the northbound Henry Hudson Parkway between the 158th and 178th St. exits. She said the bird was on the right side of the highway. He was spotted this morning, and I don't know if he's still there and I'm not near enough to check (she called a number of places but no one wanted to help).

    If you can help, please email me and I'll put you in touch with my friend.

  2. Nevermind on the previous comment. I called AC&C who said they would check and transport, but meanwhile my friend says she thinks the hawk may have already been dead.