May 30, 2013

5/30, More Cathedral Trio

Thursday evening found all five members of the red-tail family at the cathedral present and accounted for.

First in view were two of the nestlings.

Red-Tail Nestlings

And then we noticed papa was sitting on the turret directly above the nest.

Cathedral Male Red-Tail

After ten minutes, he flew across the street to the roof of the hospital. I eventually followed after, and found Isolde perched atop the Minturn Pavilion.

May 30

The male was hidden away between the Minturn and Plant pavilions, appearing only when he took off and left the scene.

Back at the nest, all three babies were now visible.

Red-Tail Trio

The one at the left shifted over to the right, where it could see mama on the hospital roof.

Red-Tail Trio

And everybody stayed in those positions for the next half hour or more. There was no flapping and precious little wing-stretching. Just lots of preening, sky watching, and it appears some digesting.

As I exited to the west Isolde was still atop the hospital. Perhaps she's getting the idea into her babies' heads that if they want something, they'll have to come get it. Fledge time should be coming late next week.

May 29, 2013

5/29, Definitely a Trio

I haven't been able to visit the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as much as I'd like, so I had yet to get a clean look at all three baby hawks. Despite one of the nestlings dominating the scene on Wednesday evening, a view of all three babies finally arrived near sunset.

At first sight it looked like it might be a slow evening. Two nestlings visible, but not doing much.

In the Nest

But one was restless and began moving about a bit, switching sides of the nest a couple times over the next half hour. Sometimes a second could be seen peeking around or over him.

Bird on the Hand

After some time the eldest (presumably) was out on the edge of the nest and did some wing stretches and some panic flapping.

Wing Test

Wing Test

Sometimes a sibling head could just be seen watching. But mostly not.

Wing Test

A few last flaps.

May 29

And then it was time to settle down, preen and watch the skies.

A second nestling popped up and also started preening. And then as the light faded, a third head popped up.

Three Baby Hawks

All three were visible for a few minutes.

About then one of the parents flew over, but alit on the hospital roof down the street. One or two of the nestlings could be seen looking that way, hoping for food, but no luck.

May 23, 2013

5/22, Head Feathers

A week goes by and another benchmark is passed: the baby hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are growing in their head feathers.

Late Wednesday afternoon I arrived to catch the tail end of a feeding. Isolde departed moments later.

Isolde Departs

Although there were glimpses of two of the nestlings, only one was active for long enough to get some pictures.

Cathedral RT Nestling

Some not-quite wing flaps. More balance flaps.

Cathedral RT Nestling

A quick look out the other side of the nest.

Cathedral RT Nestling

And then the one visible nestling settled down, its head just barely visible above the edge of the nest.

Mama Isolde had returned to the cathedral area and perched up top on Gabriel's horn, preening a bit and then sitting quietly.

May 22

She departed about the same time I did.

May 19, 2013

5/18, Hawk Nestlings in Washington Heights

On a very gray but temperate Saturday, I checked on the Washington Heights fire escape red-tailed hawk nest and got a couple short glimpses of baby hawks.

On arrival, I found the mother hawk perched on the railing just above her nest.

Washington Heights Mother Hawk

Although she looked over her shoulder now and again, she had her back to the street and was facing toward the nest. But the nest was quiet.

ABout 15-20 minutes later, the father paid a visit.

Washington Heights Hawks

A short visit. A half minute later he was off and gone.

Washington Heights Hawks

Momma stayed put.

Washington Heights Mother Hawk

A little bit later some motion in the nest itself. A baby hawk appears.

Washington Heights Baby Hawk

Visibile just for a moment, and then back to sleep.

The mother stayed where she was, and stayed.

Washington Heights Mother Hawk

She did turn around and watch the street for a while.

May 18

After an hour or so, I took a short walk around the nearby park. The mother hawk apparently took a spin too, as we both returned to the nest area about the same time, not long before sunset.

Some motion in the nest again, and this time there were two babies visible in the dimming light. Momma hopped down in the nest for a moment, and the nestlings settled down. She took off again perhaps to hunt, and all was quiet.

May 17, 2013

5/16, Thursday at the Cathedral

A fine spring evening found both cathedral red-tailed hawk parents willing to hang about for a while. Isolde was in the nest feeding the babies, while the male was up on the roof, perched on Gabriel's horn.

May 16

It was a long feeding, finishing possibly 30 minutes after I first started watching.


After the meal, the babies did not collapse into an immediate post-prandial coma. Isolde didn't take off to remove the garbage either, although the male did disappear around this time.


I was only able to spot two of the nestlings, presumably "Eldest" and "Middle Child". One presumes "Runt" is pushed to the back of the nest by its bigger sibs.


May 14, 2013

5/14, Milestones

After watching a particular hawk nest for several years, you get used to seeing certain things at certain times after the eggs hatch. Today marked about three and a half weeks since hatch at the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and there were two such markers.

First, when mama Isolde was first spotted, she was perched atop one of the Towers on the Park apartment buildings on Douglass Circle. This is something that she does for a week or so when the babies are getting old enough that she doesn't need to stay in the nest so much to help them keep warm, but she can still keep an eye on the nest and be back in a minute if she needs to be.

After Isolde was spotted, the male came soaring past, carrying a pigeon apparently nailed somewhere to the southwest of the cathedral. He was low, so he flew beyond Morningside Park, then turned around and started heading up-hill. He first landed atop the Cathedral School and looked around like he was waiting for Isolde to return ti the nest. Then after a brief stop atop the hospital, he delivered the pigeon to the nest.

May 14

Isolde arrived a minute later. Dad hung around just a bit, perching atop St. Andrew's head.


Then departed.


The feeding lasted about 15 minutes before Isolde too departed. She carried off the pigeon remains to somewhere east of the park.


What looked to be the oldest nestling remained active for a little while, at one point sitting on the edge of the nest.


And there's the day's other milestone: Dark wing and tail feathers are growing in.

May 12, 2013

5/8, Cathedral Nestlings

First sightings of nestlings at the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine came in the middle of the week. On Tuesday the 7th, Jeremy shot some video that showed two healthy red-tail nestlings looking out of the nest. On Wednesday the 8th, I went by to get a look.

All quiet at first, just a sighting of the father soaring north up into the 120s, circling about and then coming back south over Morningside Park.

Hawk over MSD

About 6:45, mama Isolde appeared and started a feeding. As she was feeding to the right, a nestling's head could be seen bobbing up to the left.

Isolde Feeding the Babies

And eventually she started feeding to the left, and the nestling at right was clearly visible.

Isolde Feeding the Babies

The feeding ended and Isolde looked around a bit, watched someone fly over, and then took off herself.


She returned a bit later at which time I had to leave, but she apparently started another feeding.

But lest the above comments lead you to think there are just two nestlings in the cathedral nest, it's definite that there are three. Bruce arrived in the middle of the first feeding and shot some video of that feeding and of the second. At one point, three separate nestlings could be seen all at the same time.

May 6, 2013

5/4, Likely Washington Heights Hatch

Late Saturday afternoon, I again headed uptown to check on the Highbridge Park and Washington Heights nests. Both were in the hatching time frame.

At Highbridge, I found Martha sitting calmly in her nest.


Although she got up twice during the next 45 minutes, her effort was limited to egg rotation and a quick preen. Well, given the uncertainties on when the Highbridge hawks switched from their first nest this season to this smaller nest, hatch could happen anytime over the next two weeks.

At the Washington Heights fire escape nest, however, signs seemed to indicate that a hatch had recently happened. I found the female sitting on the side of the nest, alternating between looking around at the nest interior and checking out the activity on the street.

Female Washington Heights Red-Tail

Female Washington Heights Red-Tail

This went on for a good 20 minutes or so, with the photographer getting his share of attention.

May 4

Female Washington Heights Red-Tail

Eventually the female settled down in the nest, but about ten minutes later, the male arrived with a tidbit of food The female got up and it looked more like she was feeding someone very small in the nest rather than eating the morsel herself.

Washington Heights Red-Tail Hawks

The male watched for a bit, then shifted position.

Washington Heights Red-Tail Hawks

Ooops, almost stumbled.

Another minute later, he took off, dropping through the hole in the fire escape and out over the street.

Male Washington Heights Red-Tail

He alit in a tree almost over head, where he cleaned his beak and then perched for 7 or 8 minutes.

Male Washington Heights Red-Tail

While he was still there the female finished what looked like feeding activity in the nest and settled back down.

May 4, 2013

5/3, 20-Minute Feeding

Early Friday evening at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Isolde was sitting on the south side of the nest, watching the world go by.


As 7:00 approached, she got up and started feeding the baby hawks in the nest. The feeding was relatively long -- 20-minutes -- so as others have suggested, there must be at least two nestlings. The question is, are there three? The cathedral nest has a track record suggesting that three is more likely than two.

May 1, 2013

5/1, Sitting Quietly

Early May Day evening was quiet at the cathedral hawk nest. It seemed I missed the big feeding, although I might have caught a snack break or two. Isolde was sitting quietly, watching over the nestlings for most of the 30-40 minutes that I was about.


On a few occasions, she got up and was bent over the nest and was bobbing about like someone inside was getting some tidbits. But the longest instance was perhaps three minutes.