May 31, 2010

5/31, Still Up There

Panic Flap

At sunset on Monday, Survivor was still in the nest.

I wasn't able to swing by until well past 7:30, when I found him/her possibly pecking at the last bit of a meal. Then it was quiet preening for some time. Same-old same-old "not going to leave" sitting-around non activity. But around 8:15, he got a little too close to the edge of the nest and a few seconds of panic flapping ensued. Then back to the safety of the nest and sit quietly until darkness fell.

May 28, 2010

5/28, Not Going Anywhere Yet

Not Going Anywhere Yet

Survivor is now of age to leave the nest. He or she is six weeks old, and even looks mature enough to make the big jump. Check out the nicely grown-in head feathers. Then compare to this pic of an elder sibling who likely left the nest a little early two years ago.

Cathedral Red-Tail Fledgling #2

But... Survivor doesn't seem to have been acting like a young bird ready to leave home. Maybe my timing has just been poor, but I have witnessed very little wing exercising. There was none during the hour I watched Friday evening. Instead, the nestling spent almost the entire time perched quietly close to St. Andrew's hand.

Not Going Anywhere Yet

Could be a few more days.

May 26, 2010

5/26, Too Hot


Survivor was up on the edge of the cathedral nest this evening, trying to catch a cool breeze on a 90° day. It went through the usual routine of looking around every which way and preening, but added in lots of panting.

But with fledging time approaching, Survivor did make a couple efforts to exercise the wings despite the heat. A couple quick forays were made toward St. Andrew's left hand. Both featured a few seconds of panicky flapping and a retreat into the nest.


Or even a retreat over St. Andrew to the other side of the nest.


Then back to more panting and scanning of the neighborhood.


No sign of either parent, although the nestling's behavior made me suspect that one might have flown by a time or two.

May 24, 2010

5/24, Last Week in the Nest?

The cathedral red-tail nestling was briefly visible when I walked over Monday evening, but it then disappeared for a nap. Looking about in the usual spots, I soon found mama Isolde perched across the street on the hospital roof. She deigned to glance my direction.


The rest of the time, she was mostly keeping an eye to the north, and watching out for a pesky mockingbird.

Twenty minutes later, the baby popped into view. Perhaps it wanted some motherly attention, as it kept looking over to the hospital


Although it did also check other angles, too.


There was also some standing on the edge of the nest, and just a bit of wing flapping.


Based on the approximate date of hatch, the nestling should be ready to fledge this coming weekend.

The baby was active for more than a half hour. Mama never came to the nest, although she did perch on a nearby gargoyle for a minute before taking off for parts unknown.


5/23, Hanging in There

Curious Red-Tail Baby

On Sunday, I only saw the remaining cathedral red-tail baby for about three minutes. It was scoping out the territory when I first arrived but soon laid for a nap. As I had just watched a parent circling over Manhattan Valley and later perching on the Towers on the Park, I suspect a meal was recently concluded.

Meanwhile, down in Morningside Park, a great egret was hanging out in the pond. It kept trying to find a better spot, flying across the pond several times while I watched.

Morningside Egret

I'd never considered before how difficult preening could be if one has a really long neck.

Morningside Egret

May 22, 2010

5/22, Sole Survivor

Sad news came early Saturday that a hawkwatcher had witnessed the mother red-tail at the cathedral trying to remove a dead nestling from the nest. But the viewer did report seeing one active nestling. I wasn't able to check on the nest until much later, but as 6:30 approached, I found the nest looking quiet.

Both parents were both found perched on Norman's favorite chimney at the hospital.

Mom and Dad on the Hospital Chimney

Norman took off about a half hour later, but Isolde remained there until sunset.

Viewing the nest from another angle partially revealed what looked like a carcass lying along the north edge of the nest, with the tell-tale tawny coloring of a red-tail baby's breast feathers.

Much to the relief of three hawkwatchers, just past 7:30 the surviving nestling finally popped up and moved around.

Sole Survivor

Looking this way and that and moving from one side of the nest to another.

Sole Survivor

A few wing flaps, but they seemed more for maintaining balance when moving about the awkward surface, rather than actual wing testing.

Sole Survivor

Twenty minutes later the baby settled down. Sunset came not much later.

The death of one the cathedral nestlings sometime in the past few days may not have been the first. Three weeks ago, when babies were first seen at the nest, reports indicated that there were three, including the video that Bruce posted. But thereafter, there were no further reports of three visible at a time. A week and a half later, there was some question as to whether the third baby had died or if it had ever existed at all. The nest location being what it is, only occasionally were two of the nestlings seen, including last Monday.

It's been a tough year for hawk nests in the area, but it's worth remembering that two years ago was very bad and the relatively good years like 2006 and 2007 are to be that much more appreciated.

May 20, 2010

5/20, Head Feathers

Five Weeks Old

What would seem to be the eldest baby red-tail in the cathedral nest has a nice set of head feathers coming in. It's about five weeks old and should be ready to leave the nest in a week or so.

The nestling was apparently the only baby anxious to be seen Thursday evening, but it stayed up on or near the edge of the nest for some time, allowing for good views.

The parents were found perched together atop the Towers on the Park, about 400 yards from the nest.

Mom and Dad

This is one of mama Isolde's favorite spots from the past, and it's very typical to find her perched on this tower during the latter half of the baby hawks' time in the nest. The older they get, the longer she'll stayed perched over there. Norman took off 10 minutes after the duo were spotted, but Isolde remained there over an hour later.

The one visible baby was showing plenty of curiosity about the world, looking this way and that

Five Weeks Old

And twisting its neck for better views.

Five Weeks Old

The one nestling settled down around 7:30 and the nest was quiet as sunset approached.

May 19, 2010

5/19, Harassment

I Despise Your Species

Apparently there's a blue jay nest on the other side of the cathedral.

May 17, 2010

5/17, Together

Isolde, Norman and Gabriel

Although I've seen recent pictures of such an event, Monday may have marked the first time I've ever seen Isolde and Norman sitting together on Gabriel's horn. Previously when I've seen them together it's usually been on Norman's favorite chimney cover across the street at the hospital.

Just the Three of Us

They must have done a good job on their parental duties earlier in the day, as they perched there together for at least a half hour as I watched.

(Note: Isolde, the bigger hawk, is at the end of the horn, while Norman, the smaller, is closer to Gabriel. Norman also has a somewhat heavier belly band).

The kids in the nest in nest were mostly quiet, but occasionally there was some wiggling about, a baby sitting up and looking around, etc. Oooh, check the new tail feathers.

New Tail Feathers

And even one glimpse of two scruffy heads together.

Scruffy Sibilings

Eventually we realized Norman had vacated Gabriel's horn. Isolde soon followed, but hung around the hospital roof. She either made a quick kill or else received a hand-off from Norman, as she returned to the nest 20 minutes later with a snack for the nestlings.

The meal was over quickly and Isolde stayed with the kids for a few more minutes.

After Dinner

Before flying across the street to perch on the hospital roof. Sunset approached and the nestlings seem to have gone to sleep.

May 10, 2010

5/9, Mother's Day

Mother's Day: Martha in Her Nest

After hearing of Saturday's disaster at the Riverside nest, I was happy on Sunday, Mother's Day, to find that the red-tail nest in Highbridge Park was still in place near the top of a tree. (Even later, I was even more relieved when I found that some trees not far down Dyckman St. had toppled in Saturday's winds.) I apparently arrived after a feeding, as Martha was perched on the edge of the nest, watching her baby or babies within.

Mother's Day: Martha in Her Nest

It was nap time, but a few times I was able to see a wiggle in the heap of down in the nest.

Some 45 minutes later, as I viewed the nest from ground level across the Harlem River Drive, there was a feeding, with both Martha and her mate George doing their parental duties. At the start, a nestling was very active, standing up and giving a few wing flaps. But once again, I was unable to determine how many baby hawks were in the nest. Certainly the one, and I'd guess there was a second. I don't think there were three.

After leaving Highbridge, I made a quick stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Once again, it was a case of mother sitting quietly, watching over sleeping babes.

Mother's Day: Isolde in Her Nest

May 7, 2010

5/7, Trust but Verify

Isolde and Finial

Isolde seems to feel that is okay to leave the kids alone in the nest for longer periods of time. On the other hand, she's not necessarily wandering too far away.

During the hour that I was in the area early Friday evening, Isolde spent

  • 15 minutes in the nest with her babies.
  • 25 minutes, just before sunset, perched on the cathedral roof just 30 feet away from the nest.
  • 2-3 minutes perched on a hospital chimney, 175 yards away.
  • 10 minutes hanging out with Norman on a TV antenna atop the Towers on the Park, 400 yards from the nest.
  • 10-15 minutes somewhere out of sight.

As for the nestlings, they must have been sleeping off a good meal, as I only got a few brief glimpses of one of them.

May 6, 2010

5/6, Growing Quickly

The red-tail nestlings are getting big enough that it seems you can almost always see one, even when they're quiet and not wiggling around.

Thursday evening, presumably after out garbage and doing other chores, Isolde returned to the nest area just after 7:00 and perched on a finial, where she preened and "conversed" with Saint Peter.

Isolde and Saint Peter

There she stayed, even as sunset approached.

Although the nestlings could sometimes be seen crawling over the top of each other and even flapping little wings, it wasn't until about 7:45 that it became apparent just how big they've gotten. And even showing signs of adventuresomeness. The (presumed) eldest stepped up on the side of the nest and checked out the ground below.

Red-Tail Nestling

Not much to see, as within a minute it had sat back down.

May 4, 2010

5/4, Late Feeding

Mother and Child

After sharing around a quick snack at 6:45, Isolde took off from the cathedral nest for some time, finally returning at 7:30 to give the three nestlings a longer meal. Afterward she and the eldest sat back and watched the end of the day go by.

May 3, 2010

5/3, Fuzzy Heads and Wings

Red-Tail Baby

Hawkwatchers reported on Saturday that three babies had been spotted in the red-tail nest at the cathedral. Late Monday, only one was visible, or one at a time.

A few minutes before 7:00, one of the nestlings popped up and started moving about. It was standing high enough and semi-flapping its wings for balance just vigorously enough that one suspects that first hatch in the nest probably occurred a day or two earlier than earlier evidence suggested. Instead of the "for sure" 15 days, it might even be the "maybe" 19-20 days previously hinted at.

It was also curious as to its surroundings.

Curious Red-Tail Baby

About 7:05, one of the missing adults finally put in an appearance, as Isolde flew in from the north and perched on a finial perhaps 25-30 feet away from the nest.

Isolde on a Finial

There was a bit more activity in the nest for maybe another 10 minutes.

Red-Tail Baby

But Isolde stayed on the finial. Looking around, preening, and giving some near-by jays dirty looks.

Isolde on a Finial

No sign of Norman and no feeding during the next 20 minutes. Perhaps he showed up during the last few minutes before sunset.