July 20, 2014

7/19, Do You Know This Hawk?

Late Saturday afternoon, Ranger Rob from the Parks Department rescued a juvenile red-tailed hawk near the tennis courts in Central Park at about 96th St. Word is that was thin and weak, but no word as to whether it was because of disease or simply hunger.

(Photo by Jean Shum)

Because the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is one of the closest nests to the location, and because no one I know has definitely seen both of the healthy cathedral juvies in over a week, initial suspicion was that was a cathedral bird.

But comparison of this photo and others of the rescuee to those of the young red-tails at the cathedral has suggested it is not from the cathedral. You'll note that the bird shown here has a "dog collar" of dark feathers around his neck. Of the two healthy kids at the cathedral, one may have a wispy, barely noticeable such collar and the other no collar at all.

So where did this juvenile hawk come from?

The Riverside nest may be closer to where this hawk was found, but the single juvenile there was seen in Riverside around the 83rd St playground late in the week. And no one has said anything about the trio from Palemale's nest by Central Park wandering north.

July 18, 2014

7/18, St. John the Divine

A very fine Friday evening found two red-tailed hawks in view in the cathedral area, an adult and a juvenile.

Norman, the adult male, was hanging out atop St. Luke's hospital, perched on his favorite chimney screen.

Cathedral Hawk - 4232

And in the close on the south side of the cathedral, one of Norman's kids was on the prowl. Initially he was lurking in the treetops above the pulpit lawn, but I spotted him as he came flying out, first perching in a tree by the Cathedral House, and then heading over to the roof of the Deanery.



Although he settled and looked around for a minute or so.


Before taking off the to the east and past the Cathedral School. Whether he headed into Morningside Park or circled back around, I wasn't able to find him again.

July 17, 2014

7/16, St. John the Divine

Early Wednesday evening found just one juvie red-tailed hawk on the south side of the cathedral grounds. Much thanks to the whining squirrel for pinpointing his location, with an assist to the mockingbird that was trying to chase him off.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 4132

The hawk was lurking in one of the trees in the pulpit lawn. Possibly I'd missed some fun, as I'd been told there had been a ruckus not long before.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 4141

But after the squirrel and the mocking bird shut up, it was quiet when closing time arrived.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 4155

July 10, 2014

7/10, St. John the Divine

Unless there was a meal delivery that I missed, it appears that one of the young red-tailed hawks at the cathedral has begun to successfully hunt.

A line of pigeons along the roof of the Cathedral School suggested a hawk was in the area, and indeed, I found one in the big tree by the Deanery. He was flapping around as he tried to maintain his perch. It turned out one foot was clenching a pigeon.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk & Prey - 3910

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk & Prey - 3912

And making some effort to pluck the prey.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk & Prey - 3918

More stable footing being required, why not try the roof of the Cathedral School.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk & Prey - 3922

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3930

Where, oddly enough, the rest of the pigeons were not in a hurry to exit.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3932

Rotate around to see if he can get a better position.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3953

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3960

Rotate some more.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3961

And finally time to dig in.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk & Prey - 3962

Dinner lasted perhaps 15 minutes, after which the young hawk remained in place, watching whatever flew over and checking out the rest of the pigeons, perhaps sizing someone up for tomorrow's breakfast.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 4001

July 9, 2014

7/9, St. John the Divine

Both of the healthy young red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine were on view Wednesday evening, one down low and one up high.

The first was busy preening in a tree near the Peace Fountain Garden.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3835

Only occasional robin alarms or squirrel noises, so who knows what might have occasionally perturbed him.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3837

Back to preening that one spot.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3840

Yes, that spot.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3841

Another hawk came flying by, high up and heading east along 110th St. Presumably that was the other juvenile, whom I shortly discovered perched atop 1MSD.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3863

Meanwhile, the first hawk has disappeared from view, although alarums eventually revealed him perched in a very dark spot in a tree by the Cathedral House. Soon enough he popped out of there and flew over into a tree in the middle of the pulpit lawn.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3875

At this point it looked like he was thinking about hunting, or at least intently curious as to the squirrels and small birds in the area.

Juvenile Cathedral Hawk - 3889

As time came for cathedral staff to close the gates, there was a last bit of activity. A couple swoops across the lawn and a dive at something on the ground. Final sighting was of one of the hawks flying between the Synod and Diocesan houses and across 110th St. to the apartments to the south.

July 8, 2014

7/8, Surprise News at St. John the Divine

Late Monday night in response to my query about the status of the sick red-tailed hawk fledgling at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, I learned from the wildlife rehabbers at WINORR that the adult hawk from the cathedral who died three weeks ago was not their father. Rather, it was their mother.

A necropsy by state wildlife officials revealed that the deceased hawk was a small female, small enough that it could be mistakenly identified as a male. The cause of death of death was frounce. Although there was no plaques obviously visible, there was a mass that had cut off an artery.

Cathedral Hawk - 3700

I will admit to having been a bit puzzled once or twice during the isolated sightings of the adult hawk over the past month, as its belly band seemed a bit darker than I thought the female's was and was more like that of the male. See for example the photo at right, taken Monday, June 30.

Nevertheless, the whole matter seems confusing, as the female hawk (Isolde) at the cathedral never struck me as being particularly small. Has there been some mis-identification of the adult female at the cathedral over the past year or two?

But the end word of all that is that Isolde has died, whether last month or sometime before. The male hawk, presumably Norman, has been taking care of the fledglings on his own since early June.

Regarding the sick fledgling, he remains under treatment. Although the rehabbers think the frounce protozoan may have been eliminated, there is still an accumulation of plaque that needs to be broken down and dissolved before the bird can firmly be considered on the road to recovery. So it could be some time.

And as for the other two young hawks at the cathedral this year, they have in recent days begun more actively to practice hunting, if not actually trying to hunt. They have often been seen swooping around the pulpit lawn on the south side of the cathedral, and on Tuesday afternoon there was word that one of them had been going after Phil the white peacock. Tuesday evening I got a few quick looks at one swooping through the area before disappearing into the trees. Later I might have spotted both, with one of them popping out of the area and crossing Amsterdam Ave. to perch atop the apartments between 110th and 11th Sts.

July 4, 2014

7/3, St. John the Divine

On a muggy Thursday evening at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the juvenile red-tailed hawks got a hostile visit from one of the residents of the Riverside Church eyrie.

Things were quiet at 6:00, when one young hawk came flying around the Diocesan House, perched in a tree for a couple minutes, and then moved over to a Cathedral House chimney.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3767

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3769

And belatedly I realized that the other young hawk was up atop 1 Morningside Drive.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3777

There they stayed for the next 10 or 15 minutes before the lower hawk took off to the west, and then the higher hawk did likewise. When they re-appeared, both were flying high up near the West Front of the cathedral.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3791

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3793

It looked they were both going to perch on a nave spire about halfway along the cathedral, but then a third largish bird game zooming into the scene. Both hawks took off, one to the roof of 1 MSD and the other further along the cathedral. The new bird was diving at the latter and shrieking, and I belatedly realized that it was one of the peregrine falcons from Riverside.

Marauding Peregrine - 3803

A minute or so of diving at both hawks and then the falcon headed back toward home.

Whew! Glad he's gone.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3805

June 30, 2014

6/30, St. John the Divine

After a few days of not running into any of the hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Monday evening was almost a bit of an overload. Action and noise galore, but no blood so it didn't get a PG rating.

It started off quietly, just a single fledgling in sight, perched atop a Deanery chimney with surprisingly no robins to complain about it.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3592

A circuit around the cathedral close seemed quiet, but wait, a hawk in the air. Not the chimney fledgling, as he was just making a move over to the roof of the Cathedral School.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3603

And then the air got busy. Pigeons swirling around, and two young hawks circling and circling around.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3613

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3626

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3631

A bit hard to say, but it does look like the two young hawks are a girl with a heavy belly band and a boy with a slightly less dark band.

And then the duo disappeared. No, one was just visible perched way up the cathedral wall where the nave meets the crossing.

Then a hawk came busting out of the east and into the trees in front of the Cathedral House. Who was that?

Catheral Hawk - 3651

Mama Isolde was present. After a few minutes of looking around, often back over toward the cathedral, she headed that way herself.

Cathedral Hawk - 3669

Perched partway up the wall, she had one child above her and one below. She took off again, and returned to the trees.

Cathedral Hawk - 3700

But the young hawk below had seen her and was hungry for a meal. He started begging, shrieking like a steam whistle.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3691

And then decide to chase after mama.

Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3693

Over into the trees. Beg, beg, beg. Then onto the branch where Isolde was perched so fast that she took off, heading over to the spires atop St. James chapel.

Cathedral Hawk - 3711

The fledge chased after and Isolde took off. She circled around and around and around, and finally peeled off to the south, perhaps headed toward the Douglass Houses.


Cathedral Juvenile Hawk - 3718

The hungry fledge again disappeared into the trees and things quieted down.

Meanwhile, the other fledge was still perched up near the roof of the cathedral, chowing down on part of a pigeon. Once again, the quiet fledgling dines while the whiner goes hungry.

June 29, 2014

6/29, J. Hood Wright Park

It had been three weeks since I last visited J. Hood Wright Park up in Washington Heights, at which time none of the three red-tailed hawk nestlings had fledged, although they all looked old enough to do so. Finally checking up there again on Sunday afternoon, I found the nest empty as expected. Time to walk around the park.

Despite a lack of assistance from the local robins, I eventually discovered a fledgling hawk perched about the park restrooms, fifteen feet above the heads of the people using the chess tables.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3516

Looking around with no evident desire to go elsewhere.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3481

Perked up after a while.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3522

And turned around.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3525

And a bit later he did hop into the trees closer to the playground.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3551

But what he was looking for was not obvious. The ground there is almost all paved, and full of children running around.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3554

Oh, hello.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Fledgling - 3556