I didn't have time to sneak over to the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine today, but here's a checklist I've been thinking about posting for a while.
As the 2012 season starts, it would appear that there might be eight red-tailed hawk nests in Manhattan this year. If all prove out, this would be the highest nest count since there were eight in 2008.
Working from north to south, the nests are:
Inwood Hill Park: Likely one of the oldest nesting sites in town, if not the oldest. The nest is located high up a tree in the ravine just south of the soccer field by the cove and has been in its current tree since 2008. Often one of the earliest nests to have a hatch in the city, it would appear that the hawks here are running a little slow this year, as Bruce reported yesterday that it doesn't look like an egg has been laid just yet. If the hawks here have been named, I haven't heard what they are, but the staff who work at the nature center on the 'island' on the other side of the cove would know.
Highbridge Park/Swindlers Cove: Located at the far north end of Highbridge Park — a hundred yards or so down the park trail from the three-way intersection of Dyckman, Tenth Ave., and Harlem River Dr. and across the HRD from Swindlers Cove — this is another early-hatch nest. And as I reported yesterday, egg(s) have already been laid. This is another old-school tree nest, although it's only been in its current tree since 2010. Previously it was a few hundred yards further south and a bit further uphill, placing it closer to George Washington High School, which explains why some of us refer to the hawk pair here as George and Martha.
Update: I am belatedly informed that there may be a new (ninth) red-tail nest on an apartment building in Washington Heights near the medical center.
CCNY: There has been a nest located on a gargoyle high up the east side of CCNY's Shepard Hall for the past several years, overlooking St. Nicholas Terrace and upper St. Nicholas Park. It's been a tough nest to watch because it's so high up, and last year was the first time that it seemed a hatch of baby hawks was confirmed here. Sadly, the confirmation arrived as a report about illness and death at the nest. Frounce had struck, eventually claiming the father and, if I recall correctly, one of the babies. The mother hawk of this nest had attracted a new mate sometime last fall, but tragically, it appears that she died just last Monday, struck by a car on St. Nicholas Ave. a few blocks south of the nest. Park dogwalkers had several years ago named the hawks here Nick and Nora. Possibly there will still be a nest here in 2012; the new male hawk could yet find a new mate, as has quickly occurred at two nests further south.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine: A nest has been located since at least 2006 at the east end of the cathedral, high up the choir wall on the shoulders of a statue of St. Andrew and overlooking the south end of Morningside Park. It may have been constructed by the hawks who had a nest in Central Park's North Woods in 2004. I have yet to see evidence that the female is in the nest with eggs, but in the past this nest has usually run a week or two later than the Inwood or Highbridge nests in its timing. The female hawk here is known is as Isolde; she and her previous mate, Tristan, were said to have been named by students at the nearby Cathedral School. The current male is known as Norman, dubbed because he was young, hyper-active and "a little psycho" when he first appeared. You'll also hear him called Stormin' Norman because of his active hunting behavior.
Riverside Park/Boat Basin: Located in a tree close to the Hudson River just north of the Boat Basin Cafe, this is another nest which has lost both adults in the past year. The father last spring to rat poisoning and the female just this past Friday to unknown causes (but poisoning suspected). But as hawkwatchers are learning, life can go on in an awful hurry. The new male hawk who arrived here late last summer was seen today mating with a newly arrived female. The Riverside hawks have apparently never been named, even though the Riverside Park Fund tried to hold a contest a few years ago.
Update: A couple weeks later, word is that the two new Riverside hawks have given up the old nesting site and may be working on a new nest on an West End Ave. apartment building's fire escape.
Fifth Ave./74th St.: The most famous hawk nest in the world apparently, located on a coop apartment building overlooking Central Park at 74th St. Tragedy also struck here in recent weeks, as the young female hawk who raised a clutch last year was found dead without injury (again, poisoning suspected) in late February. But another female showed up within a day and so it looks like egg-laying will happen, just a bit late. Whether there will be a hatch remains to be seen, as hawkwatchers will recall the long dry spell of 2005-2010. Pale Male is of course the male hawk here and he's been king of this section of Central Park for close to 20 years. I have yet to hear that hawkwatchers have agreed on a name for the new female.
Fifth Ave./57th St.: A pair of adult hawks appeared at the southeast corner of Central Park this spring and have been reported trying to build a nest on the Crown Building. They seem to be young hawks inexperienced in nest building, as hawkwatchers with convenient upper floor office viewing points have said that the duo have picked what looks to be a poor spot for a nest. Mysteriously, another dead adult red-tail was found not far away in Central Park recently but it's not clear if it was connected with this potential nest. Certainly there have been at least two adult hawks seen here since then. Long-time hawkwatchers will recall that Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte used to nest near southern Central Park but apparently gave up the territory a year or two ago due to conflicts with peregrine falcons. Time will tell how things work out for this new pair.
NYU/Washington Square: Nest first erected last year on a window ledge at the Bobst Library, outside the office window of the NYU president. Brooding is well under way here, as it was reported just today that the female had laid a second egg. A nestcam monitoring the nest should be active any day now. The female here is new and is known as Rosie for reasons I have forgotten; she replaces Violet, who died in December during surgery related to a necrotic foot caused by a troublesome leg band. The male is Bobby, named for the Bobst library.