9/8, Cathedral Kestrel

Not much luck looking for birds of prey elsewhere (does two seconds of a hawk soaring over Riverside Drive count?), but it's become almost a given that at least one of the American kestrels will be hunting on the south side of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the early evening. Sunday it was the male on view.

Cathedral Kestrel

Posted 9/08/2013 09:16:00 PM by Robert

9/5, Divided Territory

Again two birds of prey found early Thursday evening, but this time one of them was a hawk.

On the north side of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, across the street on the roof of St. Luke's Hospital, was one of the adult red-tails.

Hospital Hawk

Too high up and too far away to decide whether it was Isolde or her mate. Whoever it was seemed to be just enjoying the fine weather, with a touch of preening.

And over on the south side of the cathedral, again perching atop the lawn pulpit and apparently on the hunt, was the female kestrel.

September 5

Posted 9/05/2013 09:07:00 PM by Robert

9/3, Ma & Pa Kestrel

The cathedral kestrels were out hunting from the lawn pulpit early Tuesday evening. Or at least ma and pa were, I saw no signs of the third who'd been around the last few times I'd encountered them.

Ma & Pa Kestrel

I need to get over there earlier in the day to check on the kestrels, as there are too many shadows in the 60-90 minutes before sunset.

Ma & Pa Kestrel

And sorry, no sign of the red-tailed hawks.

Posted 9/03/2013 10:40:00 PM by Robert

8/21, Cathedral Kestrels

After a couple weeks of little hawk (and falcon) watching, I visited the cathedral area early Wednesday evening and again found three American kestrels lurking about the close.

A male and a female were perched together atop the Cathedral House.

Cathedral Kestrels 1 & 2


August 21

Thinking about leaving.

Cathedral Kestrels 1 & 2

Then the male darted off, landing atop the Synod House.

Cathedral Kestrel 1

With the female following, but stopping at the Diocesan House.

There must have been some territorial issues being debated. Twice the male did some calling, with one episode followed by a blue jay's response.

A bit later the female took off, flying across the lawn and across Amsterdam Ave., apparently heading for an antenna atop the Echo apartments at 112th St.

As I was about to make an exit, I spotted another female perched on an antenna at the other end of the Diocesan House, eating a bug, possibly a dragonfly. It was a quit snack.

Cathedral Kestrel 3

A few minutes later she too took off, heading for the water tower at the Cathedral Arms apartments on the corner of 110th St. The male was still atop the Synod House.

Posted 8/21/2013 08:14:00 PM by Robert

8/5, Kestrels and Peacocks

The start of August is typically about the time I lose track of the young red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and this year is that with a vengeance. Since returning from vacation, I made only the one sighting on July 27 at the cathedral and none in Morningside Park, nor any in a couple visits to the Great Hill and North Woods in Central Park.

The hints were there on Monday evening that the hawks are no longer about the cathedral as I once again encountered a kestrel hunting in the close. A female or a youngster?

Cathedral Kestrel

I had my eye on her for about 15-20 minutes, then lost track of her. But shortly later I spotted a kestrel atop the lawn pulpit, and a few minutes later she was joined by an adult male They perched together atop the pulpit on the lawn for a few minutes before he took off. But the capper was that after leaving the cathedral grounds, I made two more kestrel sightings, the first (a female or a fledgling) just across the street atop the apartment building at Amsterdam and 112th and then another on a water tower at Broadway and 113th.

Also on the cathedral grounds, all three peacocks -- Phil, Jim and Harry -- were out and about. Their new tail feathers are about half grown in after molting.

August 5

Posted 8/05/2013 10:08:00 PM by Robert

7/29, Kestrel in the Close

Two more days of nada when looking for the three young St. John's red-tailed hawks around the cathedral and in Morningside Park. But early Monday evening, I did encounter a bird of prey in the close on the south side of the cathedral. A female American Kestrel was on top of the Diocesan House.

Female Kestrel

She flew over to the lawn pulpit to get a better look at what might she might catch in the bushes, then returned.

July 29

Then off into the trees and out of sight.

Posted 7/29/2013 10:20:00 PM by Robert

7/27, On Gabriel's Horn

Back from vacation and back to checking on the juvenile red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I had no luck finding them in an hour of looking about the cathedral grounds and adjacent Morningside Park on Friday, but Saturday revealed one of the trio almost immediately.

Gabriel & Fledge

He was up on Gabriel's horn, seemingly intent on something down below along Morningside Drive. After several minutes of this, he took off.


But instead of dropping down, he circled around twice.

July 27

And then sailed off west, disappearing in the direction of the cathedral's West Front, perhaps heading for the hospital roof.

P.S.: Interesting birds encountered while out west included spruce grouse (with chicks), osprey, western tanager, camp robber (Canada jay), turkey vulture, great blue heron, and American white pelican.

Posted 7/28/2013 03:44:00 AM by Robert

7/13, Out of Sight

Late Saturday afternoon and into the evening, the young cathedral red-tailed hawks played hard to find. No sightings around the cathedral or down in Morningside Park, no helpful robin alarms, nothing.

As it came time to leave, a belated sighting of one of the parents on the north side of the cathedral nave.

July 13

Posted 7/13/2013 11:36:00 PM by Robert

7/9, Over the Close

Perhaps following what seems to have been the progression of the past few years, the young red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine seem to be changing their lurking place from the north side of the cathedral to the south. If this continues, they'll be terrorizing the squirrels in the cathedral's close and staring at peacock over the next two to three weeks.

First sighting on Tuesday evening was a hawk fledgling on the unfinished tower of the cathedrals' West front, watching the activity in the close.

Hawk Fledge on West Front Tower

What was there to see? Well, Phil, for example.

July 9

Perched on a fence so that we were at eye level.


After 30-40 minutes checking for the other fledglings along Morningside Drive and in Morningside Park -- no luck despite the robin having a conniption near the street -- I ehaded back toward Amsterdam Ave. And there atop the cathedral nave was another fledgling.

Hawk Fledge stop Nave

Soon after I stepped back into the close, the second fledge over to join its sib atop the West Front, where they stayed as the sky turned gloomy.

Posted 7/09/2013 10:26:00 PM by Robert

7/8, In Morningside Park

Although it's been about a month since they fledged, Monday marked the first time that I found one of the St. John's cathedral red-tail youngsters lurking across the street inside Morningside Park.

Morningside Park Juvenile Hawk

Robin noise was the big clue. Enough of it that for a little bit, I wondered if there was another juvenile hawk perched not far away.

July 8

Some 15 minutes later the hawk perked up.

Morningside Park Juvenile Hawk

Walked down the branch and stared at something in the foliage just below.

Morningside Park Juvenile Hawk

Then dropped into the network of twigs and leaves.

Finding nothing there, it dropped a bit further down onto a solid branch and began working its way back out.

Morningside Park Juvenile Hawk

The new spot seemed to leave it more open to robin attacks, and then a pesky blue jay showed up.

Morningside Park Juvenile Hawk

But it finally settled on a spot that it liked and stayed put.

No sign of the other two fledglings.

Posted 7/08/2013 08:31:00 PM by Robert

7/6, High Bridge Tower

The young red-tails fledged from the Washington Heights fire escape nest between two and three weeks ago. Although I saw one of them two weeks ago, two visits since then have come up empty.

Well, almost empty.

Both times I spotted one or both of the adults, but not in the vicinity of the nest. Instead they were a few blocks to the east around Highbridge Park, either in flight or perching on the weather vane atop High Bridge Tower.

July 7

Posted 7/06/2013 10:43:00 PM by Robert

7/5, Stronger Every Day

The cathedral red-tail fledglings are still lurking about 113th St., but they're perching higher up and farther away from their past haunts. Also, the parents are not hanging about to keep an eye on them.

I'd had sightings of the three fledges over the past week, but Friday evening provided for some long looks. First seen was a fledge perched on St. Ansgar chapel, but even as I maneuvered for a camera angle, he moved over to the eave of St. Boniface.

Fledge on Chapel

And moments later, from there over to a tree limb over Morningside Drive. But wait, another fledge comes swooping on and perches on the next tree south.

Fledge on Morningside Drive

But this situation doesn't last long either. The second fledge took off for a spot somewhere on the west side of the cathedral's transept, and the second followed to the east side. The second stayed put.

Fledge on Transept Beam

But the other decided to move higher up. It took off and circled above the parking lot.

July 5

And circled and circled -- at least five loops -- gaining height.

Fledge over 113th St.

And finally alit on St. Gabriel atop the cathedral.

Fledge and Gabriel

And there they stayed. One fledge hanging low and watching the edge of the parking lot for mice.

Fledge on Transept Beam

Fledge on Transept Beam

And one perched on high.

Fledge and Gabriel

Posted 7/06/2013 03:44:00 AM by Robert

6/28, Late Gathering

Early Friday evening initially revealed only one of the St. John's cathedral red-tailed hawk fledglings perched in view. He was up on the high ledge between the nave and crossing.


Casting about the area over the next 30 minutes did not reveal the other two fledges. But after the third or fourth check back on the one already found, I discovered it moved somewhere out of view. Minutes later it popped off a spire on the side of the cathedral's West Front, did a circle around the parking lot and returned to the spire. A minute there and then another circle over the lot and up to an eave on the side of the nave.


Begging noises revealed another fledge on the dome cap above the hospital entrance, and then momma Isolde came flying over south to north.

The first fledge shifted over to the top of the un-started tower on the north side of the West Front.


Another pass over the area by mama Isolde, and then the fledge on the hospital roof flew over to join its sib top the West front. And then the third fledgling also came off the hospital roof and flew over to join them.

The three fledglings hung out together for about 5-10 minutes. But when Isolde briefly re-appeared perched atop the hospital, two of them flew back over that direction while the third disappeared from view. Isolde didn't stay, leaving the fledglings to poke around the hospital roof for uneaten meals.

Posted 6/28/2013 09:48:00 PM by Robert

6/26, Dispersed Cathedral Fledglings

Wednesday evening after the brief rain shower found the three Cathedral of St.John red-tail fledglings dispersed, not even two of them hanging out together as they have often been seen.

First sighting was from a distance, with one hopping about on the wood structure atop the unbuilt transept. By the time I reached the area, it was out of sight, but perched some 70-80 feet up between the nave and crossing was a second bird.

Fledge on High

Preening and scratching was all it had on it s agenda.

Oooh, Gotta Scratch

Squirrel whining near the corner of Morningside Drive eventually led to the discovery of the third fledgling perched in a tree alongside the street outside the entrance to the hospital Plant Pavilion.

RT Fledge on Morningside Drive

Only the second time I have seen one of the fledges in a tree, although evidence scattered along the sidewalks suggests it's just my bad timing.

Again, the fledge seemed to have little more than preening on its mind.

RT Fledge on Morningside Drive

It did shift 10 feet further along the branch, but not for any obvious reason. Some 15-20 minutes later, one of the neighborhood robins finally contributed an alarm call to alert others of the fledgling's presence.

Back over at the cathedral, the fledge high up the wall had disappeared, but a quick scan revealed it simply flew across the street to the roof of the Minturn Pavilion.

As I moved to a spot that should provide a better angle for a photo, I almost walked right up to the first fledgling, who had dropped off the transept and onto a guard hut.

Fledge on Guard Post

Jes' lookin' around here.

Fledge on Guard Post

Stare. Stare. Stare.

June 26

Hmmm, something interesting over by the stonecutters' shed?

Fledge on Guard Post

And off he went. First to a tree near the shed, then an attempt to return to the transept but a foot too low, a circle around the parking lot, then down 113th St. at cartop level and across the other parking lot to the top of a lamp post.

Fledge on a Lamp

Okay, getting late and dark. Must settle down and preen.

Posted 6/27/2013 10:01:00 PM by Robert