11/14, Morningside Hawk Walking

Loads of raptor activity over Morningside Heights and adjacent SW Harlem on Sunday around 11:30. Juvenile red-tails and a least one Cooper's were migrating through the area, and the resident red-tails were doing a "see and be seen" to let the youngsters know that the area was already claimed. Norman was perched on the chimney at St. Luke's, Isolde was buzzing around, and the male RT from CCNY was perched on a favorite water tower in the General Grant Houses.

At noon, the adults were out of sight, but not long after we found Norman perched atop the East Campus Dorm at Columbia.

12-31 DSC_0023

At least one kestrel and likely two were up there buzzing him.

Red-Tail and Kestrel on Morningside Drive

Ten minutes later Norman decided it was time to move on.

Red-Tail over 116th St.

He circled around over West 116th St. several times, and so did the kestrel.

Red-Tail and Kestrel over 116th St.

Norman departed to the south, but the kestrel stayed in the area.

Kestrel on 116th St

The kestrel's mate was also flitting about 116th St.

Another ten minutes later a juvie red-tail appeared, perhaps one of the kids we'd seen over the area earlier.

Juvenile Red-Tail over 116th St

He too circled around over 116th a few times.

Juvenile Red-Tail over 116th St

Juvenile Red-Tail over 116th St

And barely had the juvie RT disappeared behind a rooftop when a Cooper's hawk appeared over Amsterdam Ave.

Coopie over Columbia

Things quieted down then, although glimpses were to be had of the kestrels amidst the rooftops by the CU law school.

Some time later over at Riverside Church, we found one of the peregrines lurking quietly atop the radio antenna at the very top of the church. And then hiding down in Riverside Park near the tennis courts was a juvie red-tail.

Juvie Red-Tail in Riverside Park

Perhaps he was watching for rodents in the wildflower meadow by the highway, although his crop looked a bit full.

Juvie Red-Tail in Riverside Park

But apparently he wasn't thrilled to have an audience.

Juvie Red-Tail in Riverside Park

Within minutes he took off to the south. Another thirty minutes of casting about, the only raptor to be seen was the peregrine atop the church.

Posted 11/14/2010 04:11:00 PM by Robert

10/30, Isolde on Fifth Avenue

Isolde Guards the Upper East Side

During the half hour before sunset on Saturday, Isolde was over to the southeast corner of her territory, perched atop the Cardinal Cooke Health Center and watching the skies to the south. Her crop was huge, so she had recently fed.

Right at sunset, she took off and flew northwest, soaring over the Harlem Meer and headed to somewhere close to the cathedral where she could roost for the night.

Posted 10/30/2010 07:10:00 PM by Robert

9/11, Riverside

Riverside Papa

Riverside papa flew in early Saturday evening but neither of the two kids were around while I was there. I did see one of them a week ago, anxiously looking for a solid perch on a windy evening, but not tonight.

Posted 9/12/2010 04:48:00 AM by Robert

7/9, Cross Perching


It was the nicest evening in a week, and the cathedral red-tail fledgling made it that much nicer by perching where he could easily be seen, the top of the cross on St. Savior chapel.

In addition to scanning the skies, he occasionally deigned to check the sidewalk below.


At one point it looked like he almost slipped off.


Perhaps he'd been thinking about leaving, as a a couple minutes later, he took off, circled over the adjacent parking lot a couple times, and then perched up on the cathedral roof on Gabriel's head.


He stayed up there quite a while. The hospital kestrel paid him a couple visits, but they were more in the nature of warnings rather than go-away harassment.

Although the hawk fledgling is easily distinguished when perching on the archangel because he prefers Gabriel's head rather than being out on the horn, he did jump down and gingerly stepped the length of the instrument. But as soon as he reached the end he jumped off and flew down to the upper cross at the end of the apse roof. There he stayed as sunset approached.

Posted 7/09/2010 10:32:00 PM by Robert

7/7, Detente?

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

First raptor sighting this evening was of the hospital male kestrel. He seemed to be staking out some territory, but wasn't harassing the cathedral red-tail fledgling, who was nowhere in (my) sight. A half hour later, pigeon activity erupted in the usual area on the hospital roof and then the red-tail came flying along, perhaps chasing a meal. Then out of sight again. A bit later I found him perched quietly on the cathedral nave, where he stayed until sunset.

It almost seemed the kestrel had taken a chill pill and was leaving the red-tail fledge alone as long as the latter stayed away from the hospital. Perhaps whatever the kestrel was defending no longer needs defending? But at sunset the red-tail took off west along the nave before hooking around the West Front. The kestrel gave brief chase.

Although it looked like the fledgling was scoping for a roosting site in the close, he popped back north over the dome of the cathedral crossing and was gone.

Posted 7/08/2010 12:10:00 AM by Robert

7/6, Hotter 'n Hell

Sometimes finding a hawk fledgling is a matter of luck.

The young cathedral red-tail seemed to be in hiding early Tuesday evening. Perhaps he was tucked away somewhere where shade gave him a bit of relief from the hellacious temperatures. But just before sunset when I was watching a couple of the cathedral peacocks, he came flying along the eave the length of the south side of the cathedral. He started to perch on a small ledge on the unfinished tower on the West Front but thought better of it and returned halfway to a tall finial.

Looking for a Roost

The local blue jays took note. But it was hot and it was late; they only made only one weak attempt to fly up and chase off the red-tail.

Posted 7/06/2010 11:47:00 PM by Robert

6/29, Fledgling vs Kestrel

Robin calls provided an alert that there was a raptor perched along Morningside Drive adjacent to the hospital. I quickly spotted a male kestrel, as he was zipping around the treetops.

Hospital Kestrel

But were the robins complaining about the kestrel or was he in league with the robins? Ah-ha, a red-tail hiding amongst the leaves.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

It was the fledgling. He bailed out of the scene almost immediately, with the kestrel chasing him down the drive. Ten minutes later I found him perched in plain sight, atop the cathedral Baptistry cross.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Look closer.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

He stayed there for 15 minutes or so, free from harassment by robins, kestrels, etc., but then flew up to one of the mini-gables along the side of the cathedral nave.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

All quiet here too, but another 20 minutes later, time for some excitement. The fledgling took off across the street, flushing the posse of pigeons perched atop the hospital.

But he didn't perch in one of the usual spots above the emergency room. A few minutes later later I got a glimpse of him hopping around the rooftops of the Scrymser Pavilion, back at the other end of the hospital. And even without that glimpse, I would have known he was up there because the kestrels (yep, two of them) were klee-ing away and making strafing dives, a mocking bird was calling alarms, etc.

Posted 6/29/2010 11:16:00 PM by Robert

6/28, After the Rain

After a rain shower, you can often find hawks perched in plain sight somewhere high where there's a good breeze. Monday was a good example of that.

Mom and Dad

I hadn't even crossed Amsterdam Ave. when I looked up to find that Isolde and Norman were perched high above the hospital emergency room.

With their feathers fluffed out, it was much harder than usual to distinguish between them based on the belly band. But based on size and behavior, I think that's Isolde at left and Norman at right. Norman took off a couple times and chased pigeons around the hospital roof before coming back to perch alongside his sweetie. But 25 or 30 minutes later, he took off again and didn't return.

Meanwhile, across the street, the fledgling was perched on the cathedral roof on the high turret above Sts. Jude and Simon.

Gabriel and Fledgling

It looked like he had a full crop, but even so, at one point he spent about 5 minutes doing something that looked like pecking at a carcass for a late snack.

He may have gotten a bit bored sitting where he could watch his parents as later on he hopped around the crenellations until he was on the opposite side of the turret.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

There he took a lot of vocal and occasional physical harassment from a mockingbird. (The parents on the other hand had to deal with a kestrel.)

The light was bad and the air sticky, so I took off for the evening before Isolde and the fledgling did so.

Posted 6/28/2010 11:59:00 PM by Robert

6/25, Piteous Whining

The cathedral red-tailed hawk fledgling absolutely could not be found Wednesday and Thursday, but Friday it only took a few minutes.

I first spotted a hawk perched on a gabled eave above the statue of St. Matthew, just on the southerly side of the apse. Initially I thought it was the fledge but in retrospect realized it was papa Norman. By the time I walked all the way around to the Biblical Garden where the view would be better, the hawk was no longer there. But perched right below that spot was the fledgling.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

He was whining and begging like a steam engine whistle.

Feed Me!

There was a blue jay calling nearby, too. Was there an adult hawk in the area?

While I contemplated that thought, the baby hawk flew over one turret to the right, disappearing behind the crenellations above the statue of St. Peter. (See this pic to see which statue is which.)

Oh, and hey, look who's perched just 10 or 15 feet up: papa Norman.


Norman took off within a minute, but the fledgling soon re-appeared.

Saint and Fledgling

The fledge stayed in that spot for a bit, regularly calling for attention.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

I had to vacate the area as the cathedral staff closed the south-side close for the evening. Once I had walked all the way back around to Morningside Drive, there was some kerfluffle overhead. Apparently Norman had been perched on the cross atop St. Savior chapel; he took off to the west. The fledge followed, flying back over to another set of turret crenellations, this time above the statue of St. Thomas.

More begging for love and attention (or in a word, food), but no luck. He'd been at it for a half hour now.

After another 10 minutes, try moving back around the turrets to St. Andrew and the nest site. See if maybe a parent is somewhere on the other side of the cathedral.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Nope, no one here either.

Hmmm, hop down and check what's on the mini-gargoyle.


Nothing edible, I guess. Hop back up. Curse at the robin or mockingbird who just made a strafing run. Stare daggers at the little beggar, perched over there by St. Peter. Fly over there and scare him.

And then in the 5 seconds it took me to walk down the sidewalk to a better vantage point, the fledge disappeared. Nowhere in sight and... it's very quiet. Either he found food tucked away in a hidden spot or else he's flown off somewhere out of earshot.

Posted 6/25/2010 10:43:00 PM by Robert

6/21, Playing Hard to Get

Gabriel and Red-Tail Fledgling

The cathedral red-tail fledgling could not be found for over an hour Monday evening. Just as I had given up and was trudging west on 113th St., I looked up to discover that he was perched on Gabriel's head.

Seconds later he was in the air and scaring the bejabbers out of the pigeons on the roof of St. Luke's hospital. He perched briefly high above the emergency room, then took off again to somewhere out of sight.

Pigeon activity suggested he might have remained somewhere atop the hospital complex. However, that might also have been caused by what looked to be a kestrel who circled over the area a few times.

Posted 6/21/2010 09:59:00 PM by Robert

6/20, Solstice Sunday

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

It took a half hour Sunday evening to find the cathedral red-tailed hawk fledgling. I made the mistake of looking around Morningside Park and listening for the complaints of small birds. Instead he was perched on a cathedral turret, directly above the nest.

He seemed content to watch the day go by. He had a nice spot, shade from the sun and a decent breeze to cut down on the heat, too high for the robins to care and tucked close to the cathedral roof where kestrels and magpies would probably not notice him.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

But after twenty minutes he got a little anxious, stood up...

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

... and flew perhaps 30-40 feet over to the next turret, the one protecting the statue of St. Matthew.

Here his activity was a little more varied. The usual looking around, some preening, some scratching, and hmmm, some checking out of whatever is hidden behind the turret crenellations.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

So 15 minutes later when he disappeared as I looked away for just a second, I figured he hopped down behind the crenellations. Perhaps some leftover food was back there?

And a minute or two later, back up he came, but with a pretty big hunk of something to eat. He dug in.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

And ate and ate. Occasionally came up for air.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

But back down for another bite or three.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

And came time for me to go eat my own Sunday dinner.

As I passed the west end of the cathedral, there was one last raptor sighting. A kestrel circled around the unfinished tower once or twice and then flew off high over 111th St.

Posted 6/20/2010 09:58:00 PM by Robert

6/18, Into the Park


On Friday evening, robins were once again helpful in helping find the cathedral red-tailed hawk fledgling. Within minutes of reaching the area, I found him perched on a chimney at the Cathedral School. He pretty much stayed in that spot for the next 45 minutes, watching the skies.

Later I discovered I wasn't the only one watching him.


Close to 8:00, the fledge may have started thinking about a roosting spot. First he dived out over Morningside Park and flew across the softball field, landing in the trees above the entrance at Manhattan Ave. and 110th St. Robins in that area were no less annoyed. A few minutes later he turned around and flew back to the trees on the west side of the park.

Again with an assist from the robins, I found him in a tree on the little hilltop at the top of the long flight of stairs near 113th St. A mockingbird and what sounded like a red-winged blackbird were also upset.


Despite the din, it looked like the fledgling stuck it out and held onto that spot for his nighttime roost.

Posted 6/18/2010 10:29:00 PM by Robert

6/16, Up a Tree

Red-Tail Fledgling on the Cathedral School

The cathedral red-tail fledgling finally descended from the heights and acted a bit more like one expects of a young hawk.

I was first clued to his presence by a small amount of robin alarms along Morningside Drive at the east end of the cathedral. It was another few minutes before I spotted him, and then only because he was fluttering about the treetops.

Yes, the treetops. First time I or anyone I know has seen him actually in a tree.

The robin alarms seemed to increase and the fledge flew back across the street to another treetop, then to the roof of the Cathedral School, and on to the roof of St. Martin chapel. After being out of sight for a few minutes, he returned and landed in the top of a tree just inside the Morningside Park wall.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

Now the robins were really angry. Three of the beggars started making strafing runs at the young red-tail and the din of robin alarms was incessant.

But the fledge took it. He shifted perches a few times, but he stayed within five feet of the same spot for the next full hour. Incessant noise, getting smacked by robin attacks, you name it. Several times I thought about leaving because the noise was so irritating, but the fledge sat it all out.

Morningside Red-Tail Fledgling

As I exited at about official sunset (the sun had been gone for an hour due to the overcast), I found one of the red-tail parents was perched atop of the cathedral on the platform between the crossing and the apse.

Posted 6/16/2010 09:16:00 PM by Robert

6/15, Back and Forth

Tuesday evening it took much less time to find the cathedral red-tail fledgling than on Monday, 20 minutes rather than an hour. But just like Monday, he showed up atop the arch on the north side of the cathedral crossing. The only difference was that a mockingbird was chastising him rather than a robin.

Red-Tail Fledgling and Mockingbird

Fifteen minutes later he got bored with that spot and flew across the street to somewhere atop or beyond the Minturn Pavilion at St. Luke's hospital.

Red-Tail Fledgling over 113th St.

Only to come flying back a minute later chasing a pigeon. Right concept, but the execution needs a lot of work.

He landed on the crenellations about the statue of St. Matthew. There be blended in so throughly with the stone work in the evening shade that he would have been tough to spot without seeing the landing.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

He settled in for a while, looking around.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

And down, perhaps checking out some of the birds who were chirping alarms.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

And or course some preening.


After 20 or 30 minutes, perhaps time to think about a roosting spot.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling

Well, no. He only flew across the street to the roof of the Plant Pavilion.

Fledgling on the Plant Pavilion

He shifted to a chimney top, but the hospital mockingbird wasn't going to give him any peace, and he took off and out of sight.

As I made my exit, I checked the hidie-hole where the fledgling had been spotted going to roost on Monday. I caught him just as he was settling in. Thereafter he was only visible if one walked over to Amsterdam Ave. and got out some glass. Look closely...

Spot the Hawk

You might need to view that big.

Posted 6/15/2010 11:53:00 PM by Robert