6/19, Sad News from St. John the Divine

Thursday afternoon brought bad news and really bad news about the red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

The really bad news was that the papa hawk, believed to be Norman*, had died. Although he seemed to be responding well to treatment for the infection that took him to the wildlife rehabbers two weeks ago, he died sometime late Tuesday night. The cause is to be determined, which may take some time.

The other bad news was that I learned the above while helping rescue one of the cathedral hawk fledglings. One of the cathedral maintenance staff found the young bird perched much too quietly at ground level in the school playground area. As it looked like it could be an hour before the Urban Park Rangers could come by to capture the fledge and take him to the wildlife rehabbers, I quickly walked over to help with the first part.

You indeed know a hawk is not feeling well when you can walk right up and pick him up, and he doesn't do much more than shuffle his feet. At first look, it appears that the sick young hawk has frounce, a potentially deadly infection that can be caught by eating the wrong parts of a pigeon. Treatment can be successful if it is started early enough.

As for the other two cathedral fledglings, both were found early in the evening on the south side of the nave. Initially one was perched on one of the mini side rooftops.

Cathedral Hawk Fledgling - 2832

But after I made a pass around the cathedral to look for the other fledge, I found him on the stone railing a bit lower down.

Cathedral Hawk Fledgling - 2865

Or was it the same fledgling? The railing lies along the edge of a wide ledge that runs the length of the nave, and there was movement visible on the ledge not far away.

The fledge hopped down onto the ledge and there were just a few isolated signs of movement on the ledge over the next five minutes. Then a fledgling stepped out between the railing posts.

Cathedral Hawk Fledgling - 2874

And signs of the other fledgling became more apparent.

Cathedral Hawk Fledglings - 2890

Looked like there had been a meal in progress. Likely one bird had been busy eating the entire time, although I half wondered if one had moved in after the other stopped.

Cathedral Hawk Fledglings - 2906

Cathedral Hawk Fledglings - 2916

* I say "believed" because it's never been clear whether the cathedral adult male hawk for the past year and a half was or was not Norman. An adult hawk was killed by Hurricane Sandy nearby in Central Park, and it was believed that it was Norman. However, the male hawk at the cathedral nest in 2013 and 2014 certainly looked like Norman. Absent proof either way, I chose to believe he was Norman.

Posted 6/19/2014 08:39:00 PM by Robert

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