July 25, 2015

7/24, St. John the Divine

The solo nestling in the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is getting closer to fledging time, and that means some occasional wing flapping. Friday afternoon, shortly he'd shared a meal with mama, I caught a couple quick bursts.

Flapping - 4973

Flapping - 4978

Flapping - 4979

Flapping - 4981

But of course, there's plenty of sky-watching, preening and napping going on.

Watching the Skies - 4994

It looks to me a week or more before the hawk nestling is ready to fledge. That he's too young is obviously marked by the amount of fuzz still on his head, but you can also see that his tail feathers are much too short. But perhaps some time the first week of August.

July 19, 2015

Manhattan 2015 Nest Checklist Update 4

J. Hood Wright Fledgling - 4237

It's mid July, and all but one of Manhattan's baby red-tailed hawks have fledged from their nests. Some have even begun to successfully hunt for their own meals, or at least some of their meals.

Following is a list of the thirteen (13!) nests in Manhattan that this blog learned of, one of which we only found out about at the start of July. Twelve had hatches, with one of them on the second try of the season. A total of 26 baby hawks were observed in the nests. Of these, 24 have apparently fledged, one should fledge in about two weeks, and one died in the nest

The last nest to be noted, and which did not appear on any of the earlier checklist updates was at Grant's Tomb.

This is our fourth and last nest checklist update of the 2015 season. Background info about the twelve nests originally noted can be read here. Three previous updates appeared here (1), here (2), and here (3).

  Location Hatched Fledged Notes
1. East Village/Ageloff Towers 3 3 First hatch about May 1. Two nestlings fledged June 20, third June 23.
2. NYU/Washington Square 2 2 Both eggs hatched by April 27. Fledged June 14 and 15.
3. Central Park Sheep Meadow 3 3 First hatch before May 9. First fledge June 23.
4. Fifth Ave. at 74th St. 3 3 First hatch about April 26. Two fledged June 13, third June 16.
5. CPW/Beresford Apts. No -- Failed.
6. West End Ave./80s 1 0 One baby died about June 10 before fledging.
7. St. John the Divine 1 -- First try failed. Egg in second clutch hatched about June 18-20; fledge expected first week of August.
8. Grant's Tomb 1 1 Hatch about May 18-20. Fledged early or fell from nest July 2 and was taken to wildlife rehab.
9. CCNY Shepard Hall 2 2? Hatch about April 18-20. Nest empty June 7; both nestlings presumably fledged.
10. Wright Park/Ft. Washington Ave. 3 3 Hatch about May 1-5. First fledge June 21/22; last about June 26.
11. Gorman Park/Fairview Ave. 3 3 Hatch about April 22-24. All nestlings fledged between June 7 and 14.
12. Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove 2 2? Hatch date unknown but guesstimated May 1-5. Nest empty June 27; both nestlings presumably fledged.
13. Inwood Hill Park 2 2 Hatch date unknown. Both nestlings reported fledged as of June 14.

7/17-7/18, St. John the Divine

The single baby hawk in the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is roughly four weeks old, so now has dark brown feathers covering his back and upper side of his wings. His head, though, is still fuzzy white and his breath is only just turning tawny.

Being a solo baby, he can sometimes be a little hard to find because he doesn't have to jostle with sibs for space and do a lot of excuse-me wing flapping. His preferred spot for perching seems to be toward the back of the nest, where he can't be seen from directly below the nest.

Friday and Saturday I had quick glimpses of the nestling. Early Friday evening he was peeking between the crenellations when I arrived.

Peeking - 4618

Peeking - 4619

But soon settled out of sight.

Mama Madeleine was also about, perched up atop the cathedral on Gabriel's horn, keeping an eye on things. I've seen her up there several times in the past two weeks, occasionally taking grief from the neighborhood kestrels.

Gabriel and Madeleine - 4668

Late Saturday afternoon I apparently arrived just about the time a feeding was ending. From the look of it, the hawk nestling might now be old enough to pull bits off of food off the meal himself.

Madeleine and Child - 4690

Madeleine departed a minute later, heading north as she seems to do these days. The nestling poked around for another few minutes, providing a glimpse of growing feathers.

Wing - 4699

But then settled down at the back of the nest.

Cathedral Hawk Nestling  - 4709

July 6, 2015

7/6, St. John the Divine

More observations from more hawkwatchers continue to indicate that there is probably just one baby in the red-tailed hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. But observers also seem to agree that it's a big baby. Perhaps being the only one, it's getting very well fed.

The nestling is now occasionally visible from below the nest along Morningside Drive if you find a good hole in the foliage.

Cathedral Hawk Nestling - 4425

Some spots are better than others.

Cathedral Hawk Nestling - 4428

At two weeks or even more, the baby doesn't need mama Madeleine to hang around the nest to keep him safe, but she was close by early Monday evening.

Preening and stretching.

Hawk Yoga - 4465

Keeping an eye on the skies.

Madeleine and Gabriel - 4472

And dealing with harassment from one of the local kestrels.

The Pesky Neighbor - 4487

It's July, so the kestrels will probably be in pesky mode for the next couple weeks.

July 4, 2015

7/4, Picnicking Hawks

Saturday evening at J. Hood Wright Park in Washington Heights, two of the red-tailed hawk fledglings decided to participate in the Independence Day picnicking happening around the park's central lawn. Lots of people came home from the park with hawk pictures, as the birds got right down with the people.

The first fledgling to be found was perched in a tree near the park's recreation center.

J. Hood Wright Fledgling - 4207

J. Hood Wright Fledgling - 4211

Something to the north catches his attention.

J. Hood Wright Fledgling - 4237

Very much has his attention. It's time to fly.

Gonna Fly Now  - 4240

He flew north one tree, but was barely there before zoom, he and a second fledgling were flying to the other side of the lawn. And I could see movement at the top of a tree over there, too. Maybe an adult up there.

I located one of the fledglings perched low.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4245

But he took off moments later, circled around and landed somewhere higher up and out of sight.

A minute or two later, one of the fledglings dropped down out of the sky and onto the ground.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4248

Looking for something?

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4261

Maybe a slightly higher vantage point would help.

Ready for the Picnic - 4265

Human picnickers began to gather. Who'd ever seen a hawk so close before?

Ready for the Picnic - 4268

Probably a good thing he doesn't know how to use that knife.

Ready for the Picnic - 4271

Or the tongs.

Ready for the Picnic - 4277

Too many people were edging in to take pix with their iPhones, and the fledge took off, heading for the trees over by the basketball courts.

But what about the other fledge, and what about the adult we saw?

JHW Hawk Mama - 4282

There's mama at the very top of a tree.

JHW Hawk Mama - 4285

The other fledge was trying to ease out onto the same clump of foliage as mama. She decided she wasn't having any of that and took off, heading east.

The fledging perched on the leaves for a few moments, and then did a parachute drop.

Parachute Drop - 4307

Pulling out of it just a few feet from the ground and then flying off toward the playground.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4319

Took off again a few moments later and I lost track of him.

But wait, there's going to be more picnic action.

A couple minutes later, one of the fledglings landed on the lawn and started looking around.

Playing Find-the-Pigeon - 4322

What could he be looking for? Perhaps a pigeon that mama had dropped?

Found the Pigeon - 4324

Right next to where a family was trying to enjoy their holiday meal.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4327

The fledgling seemed to think it would be okay if he started to eat there, too.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4331

But again, people started to close in to take pictures. Four or five bites and the fledgling began to think dinner might be better enjoyed with some privacy.

Picnic Crasher - 2761

And zip, into the air and across the lawn, into the tree where I had first spotted one of the fledglings a half hour earlier.

Dinner Time - 4343

Not entirely private up there, but certainly better than a moment ago.

JHW Hawk Fledgling - 4346

Time for some chow.

Dinner Time - 4374

Dinner Time - 4378

Dinner Time - 4380

The hawk fledgling's dinner was a good one, lasting well in excess of 20 minutes.

Nearing the end, he tried to gulp one of the largest remaining pieces.

Never Eat Anything Bigger than Your Face - 4404

Well, that wasn't going to work. Might as well spend a little more time on the meal.

July 3, 2015

7/3, Grant's Tomb Update

Grant's Tomb Rescue

The grounded baby hawk rescued at Grant's Tomb last night is now spending some time with Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation. They report that, "He is basically starving at 575 grams, very thin. Other than being underweight, nothing else appears wrong at this time. ... He is too early to fledge judged by the length of his flight and tail feathers; he cannot get any height even if a healthy weight."

So although I had thought the bird might have fledged on Thursday and had a rough landing, it seems a bit more likely that he might have fallen from the nest. That he was found so close to the nesting site — which is located in the platform atop a metal pole close to the memorial retaining wall — also hints at a fall.

The baby red-tail being underweight suggests that there has been a problem with the parents feeding him, and that leads one to wonder if there has been conflict with the Riverside Church peregrine falcons just a block and a half down the street. Neither parent was to be seen in the area when I spent some time there Friday afternoon, nor was there any sign of another baby hawk in the nest.

If anyone has recent info about the adult red-tailed hawks at Grant's Tomb, please let us know.

7/2, Grant's Tomb

Grant's Tomb Rescue

Late Thursday evening, I received a second-hand report of a baby hawk grounded near Grant's Tomb, on Riverside Drive at 122nd St. There'd been rumors about a possible red-tail nest in that area a couple months ago, but I'd heard nothing in quite a while. And with the falcons resident at Riverside Church just across the street, I'd always thought that was a terrible place for hawks.


It turns out there was indeed a red-tailed hawk fledgling at Grant's Tomb, with the nest being in a light or communications tower close to the memorial. Likely the young bird had fledged Thursday, had a rough landing, and was not able to get back up into a tree. Wildlife rehabbers will be checking him over on Friday, and if he proves healthy, he should be returned to his parents in a day or three.

7/2, St. John the Divine

A visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine early Thursday eve gave good looks at one nestling in the hawk nest. The young bird looks so big that a couple of us thought it could be two weeks old. That would match better (although not perfectly) with when I thought the second clutch of eggs were laid back in May.

In any event, the one nestling visible was lying high along the south side of the nest when I first arrived, but soon poked its head up and looked around.

Cathedral Hawk Nestling - 3921

Cathedral Hawk Nestling - 3929

Mama Madeleine, who had been lurking over on the hospital roof, flew up not long later, perching near the nest.

Mama on the Roof - 3957

Soon enough she was down in the nest. She fussed about a bit but five minutes later, a feeding began.

Feeding Time - 3984

After a few minutes Madeleine shifted to another position across the nest. She continued to feed the one nestling I could see but it's possible she was also feeding another, smaller one.

Feeding Time - 4052

Eventually the child(ren) was fed and laid down for a nap. Madeleine had some morsels herself, and showed no inclination to leave right away.

Madeleine in Her Nest - 4094

Some nicer pictures and video of the scene can be seen on the Urban Hawks blog.