April 29, 2014

4/26, Washington Heights/Wright Park

Early Saturday evening, I checked on the uptown red-tailed hawk nest across from J. Hood Wright Park. A week earlier I could not decide whether there had been a hatch, but this time it was more than evident. About 15 minutes after I arrived, the mama hawk got up and started a feed.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Nest (7841)

And it was a long feeding: over 20 minutes and close to 25. There must be more than one nestling there.

About halfway through, the clouds moved in again and the excellent sunset light was lost.

After the feeding, the mother left the nest for a while. How long, I wasn't sure, because both she and her mate were flying in and out and I could not keep track of who was whom.

First a hawk landed on the fire escape a floor done from the nest and posed for a photo when an apartment resident leaned out her window with a camera phone. The other adult came flying in but zigged in mid-air and took off. The hawk on the fire escape hopped up a floor to a window sill.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7907)

The other hawk returned and perched on the railing just above the nest.

Red-Tailed Hawks (7919)

The window hawk took off, leaving the one on the fire escape.

Red-Tailed Hawks (7951)

And then both hawks were perched on the trailing, checking out the nest interior and rail-walking and hopping.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7956)

Okay, 20 minutes after the feeding was over we finally know which one is the female, because she hopped down into the nest and settled in to keep the kids warm. Then the male departed for the evening.

April 26, 2014

4/26, Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove

Late Saturday afternoon, after a bout or two of drizzle, I visited the red-tailed hawk nest near the north end of Highbridge Park. A few minutes after I arrived, Martha stood up in the nest and it looked like she was getting ready to start a feeding. Moments later, George flew in, bringing food.

Red-Tailed Hawks in Nest (7651)

George took a quick look inside the nest and decided he wasn't going to hang around. He began walking out the branch supporting one side of the nest.

Red-Tailed Hawks in Nest (7664)

Red-Tailed Hawks in Nest (7667)

The feeding last about 12 or 13 minutes. Because of the viewing angle I got nary a peep of a fuzzy head. There was one white spot visible through the sticks and twigs but I finally decided that it was the food that George had just delivered.

Around 5:20 the meal was over and Martha settled back in the nest. George remained on a nearby tree limb about 20 feet away, occasionally getting buzzed by a bluejay.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7680)

April 24, 2014

4/24, St. John the Divine

A short visit to West 113th St. on a cool early evening provided a quick look at the cathedral's male red-tailed hawk, who I think of as "Norman (2)" because he might or might not be Norman. He made a very brief stop in the nest and then flew across the street to the roof of the hospital's Plant Pavilion.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7549)

Looked around for a moment.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7551)

And then took off.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7552)

Red-Tailed Hawk (7553)

Red-Tailed Hawk (7556)

Alit on a cathedral nave buttress and checked out the mess that used to be the parking lot.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7562)

And then was gone.

Meanwhile, back at the nest, it was quiet. If there had been a food delivery, then it wasn't immediately required. Isolde sat quietly, just the top half of her head visible.

April 22, 2014

4/22, Hatch at St. John the Divine

Mid afternoon of Earth Day, just after it had clouded over and rain started to drizzle, found Isolde the red-tailed hawk perched on the hospital rooftop across 113th St. from her nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7351)

She was apparently checking out some leftovers from an earlier meal. A few moments later she flew back to the nest, carrying a small morsel. She checked out the nest contents for a minute.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7357)

Either Isolde was feeling very hungry, or else that morsel was not going to be enough if there was someone else in that nest who wanted to be fed. She had decided that it was warm enough to leave eggs and/or nestlings alone for a little while.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7376)

Red-Tailed Hawk (7378)

All was quiet for almost 20 minutes, when Isolde quietly returned to the nest.

She spent the next 10 minutes bent over the nest with mostly just her pale underside visible. Her head was going side to side. Feeding behavior. We definitely have had a hatch.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7475)

And as the drizzle continued, she settled back into the nest with this year's new nestling(s).

April 21, 2014

4/21, St. John the Divine

Eggs are hatching at red-tailed hawk nests all around town. But what about the Cathedral of St. John the Divine? The time is right, but after watching the nest for an hour this evening, I'd have to say the odds are 50/50 that it has happened.

When I first arrived, Isolde was fussing about in the nest. Possibly a feeding in action but she was mostly out of site 30 seconds later. She was back up after a few minutes but then back down in the nest after a minute. From the angle of her tail, it's possible she was sitting a bit to the side of the nest bowl, either to give someone small some breathing room, or perhaps because an egg was wiggling.

While watching for further activity, I looked up to see one of the pesky neighbors land atop a hospital roof.

American Kestrel (7097)

The kestrel wasn't there along, apparently because it was busy bothering the cathedral male hawk, who had landed on the netting around the hospital's Minturn Pavilion. The male wasn't going anywhere.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7175)

Still there 15-20 minutes later as sunset light washes across the rooftops.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7180)

Stretching a little bit but still staying.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7186)

Over at the nest, Isolde popped up around 7:15.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7200)

Feeding behavior? Maybe not. Although she was up for 3-4 minutes, she spent as much time looking around as she did peering into the nest. If she was feeding anyone, it was just a bedtime snack.

Red-Tailed Hawk (7242)

April 19, 2014

4/19, J. Hood Wright Park

My main goal on Saturday was the red-tailed hawk nest across from J. Hood Wright Park. The female there had been brooding since at least March 16, so a hatch by now seemed likely. When I arrived, the female was bent over the nest and wiggling about a bit. But it lasted just a few moments. She looked around briefly.

Red-Tailed Hawk (6937)

And then settle back down in the nest.

And there she stayed. And stayed. Except for getting up and stretching about 40 minutes later, she stayed on the nest until sunset.

A hatch seemed doubtful. But the timing it such is should be any day now.

4/19, Hatch in North Highbridge

I wasn't expecting eggs to have hatched at the red-tailed hawk nest at the north end of Highbridge Park for another couple days, but I checked the nest Saturday afternoon while on the way to visit another. I was wrong in a good way.

I arrived to see Martha's tail sticking up above the nest and wiggling around. It lasted less than a minute, so maybe I'd caught the very end of a feeding or just a vigorous egg rotation. But about 7-8 minutes later, Martha got back up and most definitely started feeding someone very, very small in the bottom of the nest. There'd been a hatch

Red-Tailed Hawk (6857)

Five minute later while she was still feeding, George flew in for a visit.

Red-Tailed Hawks (6869)

He looked around a bit.

Red-Tailed Hawks (6885)

Red-Tailed Hawks (6887)

And then flew out of the nest and perched on a branch about 25 feet above my head.

Red-Tailed Hawk (6901)

He must have eaten recently because he had some schmutz to wipe off his beak.

Red-Tailed Hawk (6892)

A minute after George took off, Martha finished feeding the new baby and settled back down in the nest.

April 12, 2014

Manhattan Hawk Nest Checklist 2014

As hatching time rapidly draws nigh, time to review the red-tailed hawk nesting sites in Manhattan for the 2014 season. It looks like there are eleven Manhattan nests this year. Two of the nests are new. Three are in trees and eight are on buildings.

Working from north to south, the nests are:

Inwood Hill Park:
There have been hawks nesting in Inwood for as long as I have been following the city hawk scene. The 2013 nest near 214th St. fell to the ground late in the year, and for 2014 the hawks have returned to the ravine tree near Shorrakapoch Rock where they had nested the previous few years. Presumably this means that the great horned owls who nested in the ravine are gone. Inwood used to be the first nest to hatch every year, but more recently it has followed the Washington Square and Fifth Ave. nests by a few days.

Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove:
Last year the hawks at the north end of Highbridge Park built two nests, mysteriously abandoning the first after eggs had been laid and starting over. The second site, apparently in use for 2014, is directly above the park path not far from the intersection of Dyckman St. and across Harlem River Drive from PS5 and Swindler Cove Park. Although not high up, it is difficult to get a good sightline on, especially once the trees start leafing out. Although I saw no activity at the nest on March 16, there was a report that the female was brooding on March 18. The nesting pair here are known as Martha and George as their nest locations in 2007-2009 were up the hill closer to George Washington High School.

(Ed. note: A month after this post, it was reported that there was a new nest close to Gorman Park, at Broadway near 190th St. in the Fort George neighborhood.)

Washington Heights/Wright Park:
A pair of red-tails successfully fledged two babies from a nest on an apartment building fire escape near J. Hood Wright Park in 2012. Although the nest was removed once the baby hawks fledged, the hawks returned to the fire escape and built a new nest in 2013. In 2014, the hawks here have moved up their nesting schedule, with brooding of eggs begun by March 16.

Hamilton Heights/CCNY:
There has been a nest located on a gargoyle high up the east side of CCNY's Shepard Hall for several years, overlooking St. Nicholas Terrace and St. Nicholas Park. It's a tough nest to watch because it's so high up, and it seemed that 2011 was the first time that a hatch of baby hawks was definitely confirmed here. Adults were reported in pre-nesting activities here in early March.
+ For more about this nest, check the Origin of Species blog.

Morningside Heights/Cathedral of St. John the Divine:
Since at least 2006, a nest has been located 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. Brooding in 2014 started during the week of March 19. Because the nest bowl has gotten deeper as the hawks add sticks each year, this has become another difficult nest to watch, with the baby hawks usually not visible until three to four weeks after hatch. Fledgling watching will be difficult in 2014 because the cathedral has leased out the north side of their property and the area below the nest is now ringed by a plywood fence. The female hawk here is known as Isolde. It's not clear if her mate of 2012 was killed by Hurricane Sandy; if not, then he's still Norman.
+ For more about this nest, also follow the Origin of Species blog.

Despite hawk activity along Central Park West and over by Mt. Sinai hospital this spring, there's been no confirmation of a nest in either area. Hawks did try to nest at CPW and 92nd St. last year but were disturbed by construction workers at the building at they had chosen.

Randalls Island/Icahn Stadium:
It's not exactly on Manhattan Island, but it is in the borough. This nest is located at the top of a light tower just outside of Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island overlooking soccer field #10. It's not far from the Triborough Bridge and also not far from the peregrines who nest at the psychiatric center. I'm not sure of nest timing here, although I have a suspicion that it runs a bit later than most Manhattan nests.

(Ed. note: The Icahn Stadium nest has apparently been abandoned. No reports on whether the hawks might have re-nested anywhere in the vicinity.)

Riverside Park/West End Ave.:
Although a pair of hawks nested in the park trees near the Boat Basin for a few years, their deaths and replacement by a new pair of hawks has resulted in the current lower Riverside nest being located high up a fire escape on the back side of an apartment building on West End Ave. As of March 23, the female here was not yet on eggs, but it was reported that she was looking broody.

Fifth Ave./74th St.:
Probably the most famous hawk nest in the world, located on a ritzy co-op apartment building overlooking Central Park at 74th St. Although there has been rapid turnover in the female hawks at the nest over the past few years (a disappearance, a case of rat-poisoning, and who knows what else), the constant is that Palemale has ruled this area of Central Park for close to 20 years. The current female is Octavia. After a long dry spell, there have been hatches here since 2011. In 2014, it was reported that Octavia started brooding about March 12, which suggests it could be the first nest to have a hatch.
+ For more about this nest, follow the PaleMale.com website and Urban Hawks blog.

Central Park/Sheep Meadow:
After a couple of years of adult red-tail activity at the Plaza Hotel area and around the southeast corner of Central Park, it seems a pair of hawks have finally built a nest, laid eggs and started brooding. The new nest is in a tree inside the park in an area that gets very busy when the weather is nice, so it remains to be seen how successful the nest will be with hatch and fledging.

NYU/Washington Square:
Nest constructed in 2011 on a window ledge at NYU's Bobst Library, outside the office window of the university president and overlooking Washington Square Park. This site vies with the Fifth Ave. nest for Manhattan's earliest hatch site, and brooding in 2014 began on about March 14. The male since the nest was first built in 2011 is Bobby, named for the Bobst library, and since 2012 the female has been Rosie. Unfortunately, NYU has opted not to set up their nestcam in 2014.
+ For more about this nest, follow the Urban Hawks and roger_paw blogs.

Tompkins Square Park:
Tompkins Square has often seemed like a good spot to find juvenile hawks during winter, but in recent years, I figured any adult red-tail here was probably one of the NYU pair. Not this year. In 2014, a new pair of adult red-tails have built a nest on an air-conditioner cover on the Christodora House on Avenue B near the northeast corner of the park. Brooding of eggs began about March 30. The hawks here are known to the locals as Dora and Chris(to).
+ For more about this nest, follow the Gog in NYC and Urban Hawks blogs.

Also in the borough of Manhattan is Governor's Island. Although I have yet to learn of a nest here, I have heard reports of hawk activity here over the years.

Previous nest lists were posted in 2013 and 2012.