May 31, 2011

5/31, Wing Stretches

I arrived at the cathedral red-tail site later than I would have liked on Tuesday, but the timing worked out well anyway. Initially, only one of the baby hawks was visible, probably Eldest, perched on the north side of the nest. A bit later it trundled to the other side of the nest and may have stepped on a sibling (Middle Child?), waking it up.

Two Red-Tail Babies

Eldest returned to its original spot and during the next 10 minutes stretched its wings a few times, but did not do any flapping.

Wing Stretch

Wing Stretch

About 7:00, papa Norman did a hit-and-run food delivery to the nest. Mama Isolde showed up a moment later — she'd been perched across the street on the hospital roof — and started a feeding.

Isolde Prepares to Feed the Babies

Dinner lasted about 15 minutes. After Isolde left, the two visible babies remained active. Some wing stretches and neck craning. At one point as it seemed they were looking around the nest for any edible scraps, Youngest managed to sneak up where it too could look over the edge of the nest. All three baby red-tails were visible for a couple minutes.

Three Baby Red-Tails

Three Baby Red-Tails

When Isolde left the nest, she either hadn't gone too far, or else returned fairly quickly, as it turned out she was perched on a finial above the statue of St. Peter, perhaps 50 feet from the nest.

Isolde on a Finial

Back in the nest, Eldest had reclaimed its sport perched on the north side of the nest and Youngest was no longer visible. Everything was quiet for a while, but then there was some adult flying activity. Isolde took off and we found Norman was perched across 113th St. But he took off a moment later and as he flew past the cathedral we found that Isolde had merely shifted to the roof to perch on Gabriel's horn. Eldest got a little excite watching the activity and did flap a bit, likely to keep from falling off its perch. Then things quieted down again.

May 27, 2011

5/27, Bleeping Bluejays

It wasn't a quiet evening around the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John on Friday, although the nest itself was relatively still. The bluejays who'd been harassing Isolde a couple days ago were back and gave her the what-for for at least 45 minutes.

She was perched on a finial about 30 feet straight above the nest.

Isolde on a Finial

A couple of the babies in the nest were sitting where they could just be seen. Often they were plainly trying to figure what all the racket was overhead.

Curious Red-Tail Baby

Although they did check out us groundlings now and again.

Red-Tail Baby

Isolde's still hanging tough.

Isolde on a Finial

About 40 minutes into this scene, Isolde took off. Apparently that was her that perched atop a hospital chimney a minute later. But the bluejays were over there, too, making so bleeping much noise that even normally oblivious pedestrians were looking up to see what was happening.

She gave up on that spot after a few minutes and switched back to the cathedral, perching on Gabriel's horn. One of the babies was trying to watch the whole scene.

Curious Red-Tail Baby

Things quieted down a few minutes later and the adult red-tail disappeared for parts unknown. The babies settled back down in the nest, but there were still a few glimpses to be had of two of them.

Red-Tail Babies

But no views of all three.

May 26, 2011

5/26, Quiet Apres Dinner

From all signs, I must have just missed a 6:00 feeding at the Cathedral red-tail nest on Thursday. By the time I got there only two babies were visible, one of whom settled down within minutes. The other, it looked like Eldest, preened for 15-20 minutes, and also showed off it's very full crop before also settling down. Mama Isolde flew over 10 minutes after I arrived and perched on the hospital chimney across the street.

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

St. Andrew and the Red-Tail Nestling

May 25, 2011

5/25, Nestling Number Three

I didn't expect to see much of interest at the cathedral red-tail nest tonight. Yes, the babies are getting older and are more visible. But they just haven't quite reached the point where they're starting to exercise their wings and mad bursts of flapping will make for an exciting scene.

Indeed, it was relatively quiet when I first passed by, and I wondered into Morningside Park. There I found the pond busy with birds. Canada geese (with two goslings), mallards, a great egret, and hiding in the willow tree, a black-crowned night heron.

639 DSC_0560

Eventually I hiked back up to Morningside Drive. Ah, how nice, the red-tail babies are perched so that they frame St. Andrew's head.

One Minute There are Two Baby Hawks...

And they're checking me out, too.

One Minute There are Two Baby Hawks...

And looking down at whatever's directly below the nest.

...the Next Minute There are Three

Wait, back up.

That's one red-tail nestling on the left and... two on the right. Once again, three baby red-tailed hawks at the cathedral nest.

...the Next Minute There are Three

A close look at the head feathers suggests that the baby in the middle is younger than the other two, the runt of the clutch as it were.

The Three Nestlings

And where is mama Isolde? She wasn't around earlier, but sometime in the last 20 minutes, she's landed up on Gabriel's wings. Someone else is not happy to see her; a bit hard to see who, but the noise indicates that a pair of blue jays want her to go away.

Isolde and the Blue Jays

Which of course she doesn't.

Still some occasional glimpses of all three babies in the nest. Maybe they're wondering what the noise is somewhere up above them. Maybe they're wondering where dinner is.

Red-Tail Nestlings

About 7:20 Isolde jumps off Gabriel's wing, and a minute later an adult hawk flies into the nest, to be followed moments later by another. Norman has delivered dinner and for half a minute St. Andrew's shoulders are packed with a red-tail family of five. Then Norman takes off, soon to re-appear on Gabriel's horn.

Norman on Gabriel's Horn

While Isolde starts parceling out dinner to the three nestlings.

May 24, 2011

5/24, Head Feathers

A day goes by and the youngest red-tail starts to show signs of head feathers growing through his baby fuzz. Now the two siblings at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are hard to tell apart again.

Early this evening they were both sitting around, watching out opposite sides of the nest. Occasionally one would sit up high and preen (or is that scratch at the growing feathers?). A couple times both could be seen side-by-side.

Siblings amd St. Andrew

Siblings and St. Andrew

Siblings and St. Andrew

There were a few moments of wing stretching, but no flapping yet.

While I was watching the nest, mama Isolde (apparently) landed on Gabriel's horn up on the roof.

Isolde and Gabriel

Another 30-40 minutes went by. Not much happened except that the babies laid down where they could just peek out over the edge of the nest.

May 23, 2011

5/23, Monday Dinner

The two baby red-tails in the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are growing fast, and early on a gray Monday evening, the eldest was showing off its first dark head feathers and fresh tawny breast coloring. The youngest still has an all-fuzzy-white head but that won't last more than another day or two.

I arrived to watch the nest at the same time that papa Norman was apparently delivering dinner. He left immediately, but Isolde was already there. After a minute or two of the three occupants trading places in the nest, she commenced a feeding. The meal only lasted 6 or 7 minutes, and Isolde promptly took off with the trash (apparently part of a pigeon).

Isolde Removes the Trash

Isolde Removes the Trash

Now that the babies are about 4 weeks old, they are no longer so fast plop down into the nest for an immediate snooze as soon as a meal is done. Both nestlings were active after Monday evening's dinner, with the youngest occasionally looking out the south side of the nest and flapping its wings a little, while eldest was perched on the north side of the nest watching over 113th St. and the hospital.

Red-Tail Nestling

That sort of neck stretching often suggests the young red-tail is watching a parent fly by. A local dogwalker told me later that while I was closely watching the nest, one of the parents had been perched up on the cathedral roof.

Five minutes after dinner, I finally got a decent look at both baby hawks at the same time.

Two Baby Hawks

Youngest settled down after that, but eldest sat up for another 15 minutes watching the world. One of the parents flew by twice, going opposite directions in quick succession, but did not visit the nest.

A little stretch, showing off the growing wing feathers.

Wing Stretch

One last look over at the hospital.

Red-Tail Nestling

And then time for a nap.

May 20, 2011

5/19, Sittin' Around

Early Thursday evening found one of the cathedral red-tail nestlings sitting quietly where it could just peak over the north side of the nest. A few minutes after I started watching, mama Isolde flew in to check on her babies.

Isolde and Nestling

She ended up spending about 15 minutes at the nest, so a feeding must have occurred.

For a few minutes afterwards, the two nestlings were briefly visible in their opposite positions.

Red-Tail Nestling

But only just.

May 17, 2011

5/17, First Good Look

It's taken so long for the cathedral red-tail babies to become easily visible that they're already well into the transition from baby down to growing feathers.

My timing was finally right on Tuesday evening, as I got a good look at one baby at about 6:25.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

Already standing up close to the edge of the nest, and pretty sizable, too. I wonder if it's female. (Girl hawks are a bit bigger.) Whatever, the nestling was only visible for about three or four minutes, but that's better than the three or four seconds that we were getting last week.

One adult passed over about five minutes later, but it wasn't until close to 6:45 that one came to the nest. Looked like Isolde was delivering a fresh green stick.

Isolde Delivers a Branch

She spent a couple minutes apparently maneuvering the stick into a good spot and then took off. One of the babies (it's looking more and more like just two) popped up a minute later.

Cathedral Red-Tail Nestling

But settled back down pretty quickly.

May 10, 2011

5/10, Chillin' with Gabriel

Tuesday evening I apparently just missed a feeding at the cathedral red-tail nest. As I was walking along West 113th St. toward the nest, Isolde came soaring over the roof of the hospital.

Isolde over 113th St.

She flew up to the roof of the cathedral, hovered for a few seconds in the slight breeze right above Gabriel, and then landed on his horn. My guess was that she was returning from dumping the trash after the usual 6:00-6:15 feeding.

Isolde stayed perched up there, and stayed, and stayed.

Isolde and Gabriel

Thirty or 40 minutes went by and she was still there. But by then Bruce had come by with his better camera gear and was shooting some video of the nest. Right about 7:00 the babies must have woken up from their postprandial snooze and started wiggling around. Over the next five to ten minutes there were some flashes of white, and a few times an entire baby hawk head, visible above the lip of the nest. I didn't manage to get any pix, but check Bruce's blog for the footage.

I finally called it an evening around 7:20, and Isolde was still chillin' out up on Gabriel's horn.

May 9, 2011

5/9, The Day after Mother's Day

A week or three after the eggs have hatched and red-tail nestlings are still young enough that they can't be left entirely alone such, one of the parents will always remain within eyeshot of the nest. But sometimes you'll find both parents perched together not too far away. Monday's nice evening was one of those times, when Isolde and Norman were perched side-by-side on the tall chimney at St. Luke's Hospital.

Love Birds

The spot is about 175 yards from the nest, and Isolde could frequently be seen looking over her shoulder in that direction.

About 10 minutes later she flew over to the cathedral to check on the babies.

Isolde in Her Nest

There followed was what seemed vigorous poking about inside the nest before Isolde eventually settled into a feeding. She was deep inside while doing so, though, so the nestlings were never visible.

Dinner took about 15 or 20 minutes. Isolde looked around for a bit, checking that everything was as it should be, including sleepy nestlings.

Isolde in Her Nest

And then she settled down on one side of the nest to enjoy the view and watch whatever might fly past.

Norman had apparently done pretty well in his paternal duties for the day, as he hung around on top of the chimney the entire time and was only seen to take off about 15 minutes after the feeding ended.

May 6, 2011

5/6, A Very Long Dinner

Friday evening at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Isolde spent just over 25 minutes feeding her baby red-tails. It was evident that she was feeding at least two nestlings, as she was delivering tidbits to more than one spot in the nest. The babies are still a week or so away from being easily visible to the naked eye, but in the last day or two, a viewer with good binoculars/camera and a steady hand could catch a glimpse of the top of a fuzzy head popping up during feedings.

Isolde was sitting quietly in the nest when I first arrived around 6:15 this evening, but she soon moved up to perch on Gabriel's horn, perhaps to look around to see where Norman was, and where dinner might be.

Isolde on Gabriel's Horn

Norman arrived at about 6:40, and the two parents spent a minute huddled over the nest. After Norman took off, Isolde took another minute or two to "dress" the meal and then started feeding it to the nestlings.

Isolde Feeds the Babies

Isolde Feeds the Babies

Isolde Feeds the Babies

Dinner just kept going and going and going. It wasn't until just past 7:10 that Isolde stood up, looked around for a moment and then took off to dump the garbage in some far-away spot.

Isolde Takes out the Trash