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).
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.
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.
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.
One last look over at the hospital.
And then time for a nap.