July 26, 2011

7/26, All Around

There were four red-tailed hawk sightings near the Cathedral of St. John the Divine early Tuesday evening, but none close enough for a good picture. At least two hawks were involved, as a couple sightings were definitely a youngster and one was an adult.

None of the hawks were actually on the cathedral grounds or in Morningside Park. The first sighting, probably a youngster, was seen from a distance atop the Cathedral Parkway Towers on 110th St.; the second was was a youngster atop the tall chimney at St. Luke's Hospital; the third was a youngster on the back side of the roof of the apartments at 509 West 110th (west of Amsterdam); and the final sighting was mama Isolde perched atop the Lionsgate apartment tower on West 112th.

July 23, 2011

7/22, Heat Wave

No sign of the cathedral young red-tails the last two hot days, not even a robin chip. But not only has there been a cormorant hanging around Morningside Park most of the week, but on Friday there was another.

Morningside Cormotant

July 20, 2011

7/20, Practice Attacks

Monday and Tuesday evenings around the cathedral and Morningside Park, I only made one hawk sighting — a youngster atop a hospital chimney — although there was aural evidence on Tuesday that one of them was in the cathedral close. The lack was partially made up for with a kestrel briefly sighted atop 1 Morningside and a double-crested cormorant at the park pond.

Wednesday evening, things went a bit better, as I found two of this year's young red-tails practicing their attack technique in the close. I had barely spotted one of them when the second swooped in with a mock attack on its sibling.


Both decamped to a spot in the bushes where the cathedral staff had left a hose running, and there was a small but cool pool in which to dip one's feet and bottom feathers on a muggy evening.

Lurking in the Bushes

After lurking about that area a bit longer...

You, Again!

They were up and running and swooping about the lawn, sometimes perching on the picket fence.

Picket Perch

Over the next 15-20 minutes there were more attacks on stray leaves, nosy buttings-in to see what the other hawk had pounced on, and more swoops at each other. Then the duo both perched on the pulpit fence and chilled out for most of the rest of the evening, one preening and the other watching.

Much later they became active again. More swoops at each other, the best one coming when one forgot to pay attention to what its sibling was up to and almost got knocked off the fence. Both also made vain attempts at a squirrel and one made a try at a sparrow. The peacock, of course, they ignored.

One last sighting about 8:00

Lurking High

And both were lost to sight. And that blue jay finally shut up, too.

July 14, 2011

7/14, In Close

Sometimes you don't have to spend a moment looking for hawks. They just fly out to greet you and perch right overhead.

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Even as I watched this youngster in the cathedral close, I could hear another begging 50-75 yards to the east. I decided to stay with the bird in hand.

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Within just a few minutes, it tried to catch something in the bushed at the west end of the new playground. Not the best plan, as there a fence prevents a direct attack. Oh, well, perch and think about it for a while.

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Walk back to the corner and check that bush again.

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Pose for the photographer.

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Spot something interesting in the grass and make another attack.

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Dang. This doesn't seem edible.

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Mantle, because there are too many people who want whatever it is.

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Fly away.

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Ah, presumably the other young red-tail we heard earlier.

Everybody goes their separate ways. One young hawk tried to hide in a very shaded spot.

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And off to swoop at a squirrel. Missed, again.

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And take off.

Hawk in the close on the pulpit fence.

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I've lost track of who I may be watching now. And frankly, just because I only saw two hawks together at one point, there's no saying I haven't actually seen all three of the cathedral kids.

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It's after 7:00 and the lights getting tough to deal with.

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But dang, all three baby hawks were definitely together on the lawn for just a moment as two swooped in to see what the third was jumping on.

Time goes by and, yep, all three of the young hawks are about. They're zooming about less and interacting more.

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And there they all are together.

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Everybody back over to the pulpit fence.

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They don't seem to pay much attention to the peacock wandering around, too. Probably have already figured out he's too big a job.

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They break up. One swoops at a leaf not far away.

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Then perches on something a little higher.

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And eventually a tripartite round of begging begins. Where's the adult?

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The parent stays a few minutes but then takes, headed toward Broadway and 110th (excellent pigeon territory), or perhaps Riverside Park. The kid hawks quiet down.

July 13, 2011

7/13, All About the Close

The cathedral juvenile red-tailed hawks are all doing well. And I do mean all as in all three, as I was lucky to have the complete trio in view at one time for a minute on Wednesday evening.

Again checking the cathedral close to start the day's hawkwatching, I figured there must be a hawk about because the pigeons atop the old orphanage building kept taking off and circling around. Finally after 10-15 minutes, I spotted a young red-tail perched on the buttress overlooking the orphanage roof.

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And over close to Amsterdam Ave. there were angry robin noises. A young hawk was perched near the Peace Fountain, eying the lawn for potential prey.

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Checking back on that first hawk again, it has flown off. But there's one perched nearby on a finial above the apse roof.

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There are begging noises again, but from the middle of the close.

No, not the peacock. They've been fairly quiet lately.

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But close to the peacock is a young red-tail perched in a very shady spot. While I'm trying to figure out camera settings, it takes off, and then another one flies by. Head back over by the peacock hutch and look up.

There's one young hawk perched on a turret.

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A second on the roof of the orphanage.

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(This one seems small; I wonder if this is a boy and the other two are girls.)

And in between is the third, back on the buttress.

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Then in turn they each take off, heading west.

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Begging noises again from near the west end of the close, but one hawk is way up on a spire along the cathedral nave roof.

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Where is he again?

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The begging noises fade away and for another 10-15 minutes, there is only the one hawk on the spire visible. Finally another is spotted flying back into the close; apparently it had been perched on a rooftop across Amsterdam Ave. Not sure if that's the hawk I spot a moment later perched on the side of the West Front tower.

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He disappears again a few minutes later. Then a young red-tail is spotted atop the Synod House before it flies back into the trees.

Then, ah-hah, an adult red-tail perched on a chimney at the Cathedral Parkway Arms apartments on 109th St. That would explain all the begging noises.

Light's been degrading quickly as bad weather moves in, and now the wind is picking up. Exit.

July 12, 2011

7/12, More Hunting in the Close

After a long time of not finding any red-tailed hawks at the cathedral early this evening, I re-checked the close as I was about to end the day. There I found two of young hawks raising a ruckus as they swooped around, chasing and pouncing and otherwise causing chaos.

There was squirrel chasing. The squirrels won, 4-nil.

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Fence sitting.

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Squirrel ogling.

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Pulpit sitting.

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Pouncing on god-knows-what.

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Glaring at the witnesses.

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Acting like nothing was happening.

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More glaring.

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Cowering because... oh, no!

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Your sibling wants a piece of whatever it was you found on the ground.

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Now we have some examining and some glaring.

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And examining and staring.

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Then a pounce and a hey-gimme-some-of-that.

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And a game of chase around the lawn, followed by a disappearance into the trees.

Almost seemed the fun was over, but the kids put on an encore.

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The mutual examination of the lawn was somewhat quieter this time.

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A bit of consultation.

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Someone must have spotted a parent in the area, because both took off and swooping around again. As pigeons kept bursting into the air as hawks swept by, it seemed one of the young hawks was working his way up the side of the nave. Perched halfway up, it started begging. Then it got to the top of a nave buttress and begged even more.

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Then one parent came soaring overhead. Impossible to tell if it was Isolde or Norman, but the adult was definitely in mid-molt, with last year's R1 and L1 tail feathers gone and new ones just beginning to grow in.

But ah-hah, another hawk perched atop a nave buttress, and it's the other parent.

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A moment later this parent also took off, disappearing over the top of 501 Cathedral Parkway (hey, I usd to live there), leaving the one young hawk still begging atop a buttress.