April 30, 2013

4/30, Feeding and Flying

The last day of April featured beautiful weather and a fun burst of hawk activity after the evening feeding at the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

I arrived at the cathedral to find Isolde in the middle of what seems to be the usual early evening feeding. Ten minutes or so of activity and then off she went to take out the trash (part of a pigeon).

Isolde Takes out the Trash

She headed up Morningside Drive with no sign of her returning any time soon. About 8-9 minutes after she left, a hawk landed on "Tristan's Urn", across 113th St. on the roof of the Plant Pavilion of St. Luke's Hospital. It was the male.

Cathedral Male Red-Tail

And dang, if it weren't for knowing that an adult hawk was found dead nearby in Central Park after the hurricane, I'd likely say that was Norman up there. Would eye color give a hint to the age of the hawk?

Cathedral Male Red-Tail

Hmmm, a very close look at that photo did not suggest the paler eye color of a young adult. So matter not proven either way.

Bonus spidey-eyes pic.

Spidey Eyes

Another 8-9 minutes after the male landed on the hospital roof, Isolde came down 113th St. and landed on another part of the pavilion roof.

April 30

She barely perched there for a few moments and then flew over to the nest.


While hawkwatchers below watched to see what she was up to, the male took off in some other direction. But Isolde's return to the nest didn't last either, as after a few minutes she too took off again.

Over the next 5-10 minutes there were sightings here and there of the adults in the air. For one short moment, both adults were perched on the edge of the nest, leaning over and "consulting" on the sight of the babies within. Just before 7:00 the male took off, his duties apparently done for the day, and Isolde settled down and out of sight.

April 28, 2013

4/27, Brooding Uptown

Late Saturday I checked on the two Uptown nests where the red-tailed hawks were for one reason or another likely to be still brooding. Sure enough, they were. But although I saw four adult red-tails during the trip, I didn't see two at each nesting site.

First up was Highbridge Park, where the hawks abandoned their new nest after brooding had already started and re-started the whole sequence at a new nest site. First sighting was George perched near the top of the nesting tree, taking some heat from a pair of blue jays.

Highbidge George

He quickly flew to a tree to the north, and while I was checking to see where he was, a hawk came out of the same area and flew into the nest. I could have sworn I'd seen Martha already in the nest, but apparently not.

Martha settled into the nest, and I started scouting about for viewing spots. The rocky bluff of Fort George was as ugly and potentially dangerous as ever, but I did find a spot not far below nest level. Better yet, an opening in the trees meant it was open to the late afternoon sun.

Martha Disapproves

Of course, Marth was watching the entire time. And if looks are to be believed, she disapproved of having someone checking out her nest.

Martha Disapproves

As the nest lost the light and I contemplated leaving, a hawk came soaring over. George returning? Holly smokes no, there are two adult red-tail flying overhead. An interloper, with George showing up to push him out of the area. The trespasser soared out over the Harlem River with George not far behind.


Stuck halfway up a steep hill with trees blocking the view, I couldn't see much, but it looked like they were doing the standard slow-motion circling for altitude advantage. I lost track of them and started making my exit uphill. But five minutes after the "chase" had started, the interloper and George made another pass straight overhead, heading south along the ridgeline.

A 20-30 minute walk from the Highbridge Nest brought me to the Washington Heights fire escape nest. Sticks in plain sight, and right above them something blindingly white in the late sun. The female was sitting up in the nest and preening.

Washington Heights RT

But still paying attention to passers by below.

Washington Heights RT

And otherwise keeping an eye on things.

Washington Heights RT

She settled down in the nest for a while. Over the next 45-50 minutes she got up twice for what looked like an egg rotation and a quick preen. But that was it. Sunset arrived and no sign of the male.

April 23, 2013

4/23, Tuesday Evening Feeding

All seemed quiet early on a gray Tuesday evening at the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The only hawk to be seen was the adult male, perched several hundred yards away atop one of the Towers on the Park buildings on Douglass Circle.

After I made a visit down to the lower level of Morningside Park, I came back uphill to find Isolde doing a feeding. It went on a good fifteen minutes before Isolde slacked off. She did a couple hawk yoga stretches and looked around.

After the Feeding

And without bothering to remove the garbage or otherwise leave the nest for a moment, she settled back down with the new babies.

April 21, 2013

4/21, Feeding Behavior

An hour and fifteen minutes of watching the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine early Saturday evening was almost a bust. Once could intermittently see part of Isolde's head poking above the edge of the next, but she never got up and the male did not put in an appearance.

Sunday looked to be even quieter, but then things got much, much more interesting. For a long boring spell of watching the nest, the only sighting of the hawks was perhaps of the tips of Isolde's tail feathers just barely poking above the nest edge. But about 6:50 as I was getting ready to leave for Sunday dinner, Isolde stood up and looked around a bit.


And also looked down into the nest a bit, too.

A couple minutes of this and she turned around.


And took off.

Isolde Flies

She flew west toward Amsterdam Ave., then returned three and a half minutes later. While I moved to a new position to get a better angle to see what she was doing, she suddenly took off again, this time heading south.

Minutes ticked by. I was reminded of the time a few years ago when Isolde was either brooding or had young babies in the nest and Norman was apparently not delivering food on the desired schedule. Isolde left the nest unattended then for 15 or 20 minutes before returning with some food.

This time, though, she was gone 10 minutes, flying in just a bit too quickly for me to tell whether she was carrying food.

But she stood over the nest a bit.

Isolde Returns

Then leaned down into the nest, moving about a bit so that all one could see from the street was her feathery underside slowly bobbing up and down. Ah-ha, it looks like feeding behavior. A few days later than I would have guessed, but it looks like there is now a baby hawk, or two, in the nest.

April 20, 2013

4/19, No News is... No News

Visits to the corner of Morningside and 113th from Wednesday through Friday resulted in... Wednesday, a glimpse of the Isolde in the nest, perhaps rotating eggs. Thursday, nothing. Friday, the new male flying up and down Morningside Drive and a glimpse of Isolde in the nest.

As the light dimmed on a dreary Friday evening, Isolde's head was just barely visible several times.


(Look closer.)

It's been five weeks to the day since the first report that Isolde might be brooding in the nest. So maybe an egg has now hatched. And maybe not. A clear sight of feeding behavior is needed.

April 16, 2013

4/16, Still Waiting

All quiet at the cathedral hawk nest early Tuesday evening. The male was perched several blocks up Morningside Drive atop the massive East Campus Dorm. On being found, he immediately took off.

Red-Tail over Morningside

Circled one or twice and slowly soared south toward Central Park.

Red-Tail over Morningside

4/15, Waiting

Disregard what I said a day ago about the new cathedral male hawk not perching on Norman's chimney. Early Monday evening found him perched up there for 15 minutes, preening and watching 114th St. for pigeons.

Hawk atop St. Luke's

Over on the other side of the cathedral, I ran into Phil.

April 15

And either Jim or Harry (but not the other).


April 15, 2013

4/14, Cathedral Countdown

Monday marks a month since the first observation that brooding might have begun in the red-tailed hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. So a hatch is coming soon, probably toward the end of the week.

I checked on the 113th St. scene late Sunday afternoon and saw nothing at the nest. But the new male, whom I have privately been thinking of as "Tertius", was perched a block away on a railing on the St. Luke's hospital roof.

Hawk atop St. Luke's

I'd seen him perched in the same area a time or two before over the past month. Tertius doesn't seem to care for the tall chimney screen that Norman liked to perch on. But then again, Norman didn't perch much on the decorative urn that Tristan preferred 6 years ago.

Hawk atop St. Luke's

About the same time I had to leave for Sunday dinner, Tertius changed position to the top of the old dome tower, then apparently tried a death-from-above dropping swoop on the pigeons below. Perhaps he got one.

April 13, 2013

4/13, Re-Nesting in Highbridge

Saturday was three weeks since I had last visited the Highbridge Park hawk nest, end even though hatch wasn't due until the end of the coming week, I headed uptown to check how things were going. Imagine my distress to find the nest empty and apparently abandoned.

Abandoned Nest

Fifteen minutes of watching showed no hawk activity. I headed downhill to see if there was anything on the ground below that might suggest what happened. On the way I passed through the area where last year's nest was located and noted a small bundle of sticks in the crotch of a tree above the park path.

There was nothing to see below the nest, and no sign of a hawk about. I thought I might as well walk up to Inwood Hill Park to check on the nest there.

Again approaching the area where last year's nest was at, I found George perching high above the path. I barely had time to take a couple poor photos of him scratching before he took off, flew over Swindlers Cove, and across the Harlem River into the Bronx.

George Scratches

So why was George in this area? Hold it, do I see a hawk head poking up from that small bunch of sticks, adjusting their position?

Yes, there's Martha. And there she stayed for the next hour and more as the shadows crept across the area and sunset approached. She never stood completely up, but a couple times got halfway up, adjusted the sticks and laid down in a new position. Chances of taking a decent picture of her were nil unless I was willing to climb up the boulders of the hillside.

Martha in New-New Nest

So the Highbridge Park red-tails have for unknown reason abandoned what seemed like a perfectly good nest two or three weeks after the female had already started brooding. And they've moved into a new nest that's so small that Martha's tail feather poke over the edge when she lays in certain angles, apparently brooding a new clutch.

April 6, 2013

4/6, All Snug in Their Nests

A trip uptown late on Saturday found the Washington Heights red-tailed hawk mama tucked away in her fire-escape nest, brooding eggs. Look for a hatch there around the first of May.

Washington Heights Hawk Nest

The female at the Inwood Hill nest was also hunkered down as I checked that site near sunset. That nest is farther along and should see a hatch in a week or so.

First hatch in Manhattan should come along soon, as it's been almost a month since it was reported that Rosie at the NYU/Washington Square Park nest had laid her first egg.

April 1, 2013

3/31, Building a Nest on Central Park West

Sunday was yet another gray day, with sporadic rain to boot. But the new red-tailed hawks building a nest at Central Park West and 92nd St. were at work.

First sighting was a hawk in a tree by the park loop road at 98th St.

CPW Hawk

Who soon took off, perhaps coaxed by the area blue jays, soared and circled about several times and then disappeared over the rooftops around 96th St.

But then plenty of action around the nest on the apartment half ledge. A hawk flew in, checked out the scene.

CPW Hawk

Took off.

CPW Hawk

In and out of the nest a couple times. Both times carrying sticks.

CPW Hawk

And then after 20 minutes or so, with a couple dog-walkers rushing about trying to figure out what the hawks were up to, all quiet.

But wait. One cannot leave Central Park without the obligatory sighting of a juvenile red-tail in the North Woods.

North Woods Juvie RT,/p>

Thanks to the small bird with a call like a police whistle for that final sighting.