3/30, St. John the Divine

The red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine continue to be a bit coy about whether there are eggs in their nest. Monday I did see evidence that the female was spending time in the nest in brooding position, but she also seemed willing to leave it unattended. So there might be eggs up there, but perhaps not yet a full clutch.

Checking the site in mid-afternoon when the light would be better, all initially seemed quiet. I walked down into Morningside Park after one of the local dogwalkers excitedly pointed out that there was an egret at the park pond.

Morninside Egret - 8032

Definitely a sign of spring.

Back up to the top of the hill, Madeleine was poking her head out of the hawk nest.

Madeleine in Her Nest - 8055

And instantly leaping out.

Madeleine Leaves the Nest - 8058

And circling over Morningside Park.

Madeleine Over Morningside - 8062

Madeleine over Morningside - 8063

Madeleine Over Morningside - 8065

Madeleine over Morningside - 8067

Madeleine Over Morningside - 8069

Before soaring off to the east. It wasn't clear whether Madeleine was leaving after a quick visit, or if she had been hiding up there earlier. And no sign of Norman during that scene.

Returning in the early evening, I found that it is very possible for Madeleine to be in the nest and not be visible from street level at all. Just after 6:30, when the nest had been unattended for at least ten minutes, she flew into the nest and slowly settled down so low that she couldn't be seen. No sign of Norman until he also flew in from the east and landed atop the archangel Gabriel on the cathedral roof.

Gabriel & Hawk - 8177

He stayed up there for ten minutes watching the skies to the west, and then took off. A bit later I found him perched atop 501 West 110th, still watching the west.

Posted 3/30/2015 10:01:00 PM by Robert

3/28, Brooding Time Uptown

Saturday afternoon I took a long walk that passed by five of the red-tailed hawk nests north of Central Park, starting at Dyckman St. and working south to Cathedral Parkway. Four of the five nests definitely had females in them, probably all of them brooding eggs.

At the Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove hawk nest just below Dyckman St., I found the female, Martha, changing her brooding position and wiggling around to get everything back in place. But a few minutes later she suddenly flew away from the nest, leaving it untended. It turned out that there was interloper in the area and she was joining her mate, George, to chase it away. She was back in the nest in a couple minutes, getting out of and back into the nest so fast that neither time did I have a chance to take a decent picture.

Walking around Fort George Hill, I passed by the Gorman Park nest. While walking along Bennett Ave. a couple blocks away, I turned around to discover there was a hawk overhead.

Bennett Ave Hawk - 7796

A juvie.

Bennett Ave Hawk - 7797

And almost instantly, another hawk was chasing the juvie south. Successfully having chased the interloper out of the territory, the Gorman Park male returned north and headed into Fort Tryon Park. A few minutes later I was up the hill on Overlook Terrace, where I could see the Gorman Park female in the nest. Three eggs were confirmed there last Sunday.

Heading south along Ft. Washington Ave., next up was the fire escape nest overlooking J. Hood Wright Park. There it was plain to anyone who might look up that there was a hawk in the nest; the female's tail feathers were sticking way out. From another angle, it was possible to get a look at her looking back.

Wright Park Hawk Nest - 7840

No sign of the Wright Park male red-tail in the area, but before I continued on, there was a look at a juvenile circling over Broadway and 176th. Conceivably it was the same juvie who had been chased away from the Gorman Park nest area.

Thirty blocks south, approaching 141st St. along St. Nicholas Ave., there was the CCNY male hawk perched atop the Presbyterian church downhill from the nest.

CCNY Hawk - 7883

The female was also just visible in the nest, but the fading light made it tough to get a decent picture.

Sunset was still 25 minutes away, so quick walking might get me to St. John the Divine while there was still a bit of light. But even before reaching the south end of St. Nicholas Park, there was another hawk to see. A juvenile was circling high over St. Nick Ave., progressively working its way north. As it passed overhead, he only had a few blocks to go before a confrontation with the CCNY hawks was likely to happen.

Finally reaching Manhattan Ave. and 113th St. just past sunset, it seemed there was nothing to see at the hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Watching the area for another 7 or 8 minutes revealed some activity at the nest, but it had gotten too dark to tell if it was one of the hawks just paying a visit to the nest site, or if there was a switch-off on egg-tending.

Posted 3/28/2015 10:29:00 PM by Robert

3/27, St. John the Divine

If the red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine were operating on the "normal" schedule, the first egg would have been laid in the nest a few days ago. But despite checking on the nest area several times this past week, I have yet to see evidence that brooding is happening. No switch-offs between the adults on keeping eggs warm; not even a glimpse of the female's head or tail feathers poking up above the nest bowl.

Late Friday, there was at least some hawk activity to watch. On first arrival in the area, I found one of the hawks perched atop the cathedral on Gabriel's horn.

Gabriel & Hawk - 7608

This looked like the male, Norman. With one of the new apartment structures blocking the view from his favorite chimney at St. Luke's hospital, it seems likely that we will see more of him perching on the horn this year.

Gabriel & Hawk - 7585

Norman hung around on that perch for six or seven minutes, and then as hawks are wont to do, disappeared while I was checking camera settings. Ten minutes later I spotted a hawk circling very high over Manhattan Ave. on the east side of the park. It circled numerous times over a two-minute period, gradually drifting east and south towards, one guesses, Harlem Meer.

Five minutes after that, a hawk came swooping westward and plummeted towards the nest. It stayed just long enough for a few pictures.

Cathedral Hawk - 7685

And then out of the nest and around the cathedral. It didn't go far.

Cathedral Hawk - 7706

The hawk kept an eye on the south close for five minutes or so, and then again, quietly disappeared.

Posted 3/27/2015 09:26:00 PM by Robert

3/21, Gorman Park & Highbridge/Swindler Cove

Again a Saturday checking on some red-tailed hawk nests in upper Manhattan.

Viewing the Gorman Park nest at 190th St. from over 300 yards away across the valley near the Fort Tryon subway stop, I could just barely see a hawk head poking up from the nest.

Gorman Park Hawk Nest - 7278

So it looks like the Gorman Park nest has joined the Washington Square Park nest as one of the first of the Manhattan nests to have a hawk mama brooding egg(s).

A half hour later over in Highbridge Park by Swindler Cove, the nest looked empty. Moments later a hawk landed in a treetop across Harlem River Drive in Swindler Cove Park. Initially I thought it was George, but as events would show, it was Martha.

Martha played scarum with a squirrel in the treetop for about five minutes, where the squirrel would try to sneak up below her and then she tried to pounce. But after they both tired of that, Martha flew across the road and landed in the nest tree. She looked around for a few minutes.

Highbridge Martha - 7370

And then George flew in from somewhere to the northwest.

George Arrives - 7371

Oh, he's not planning to perch alongside her.

Wild(life) Sex - 7372

Hawk sex ensued.

Wild(life) Sex - 7376

Wild(life) Sex - 7379

Wild(life) Sex - 7380

The "tree shaker" lasted a bit longer than I am used to see this sort of thing take.

Wild(life) Sex - 7385

Finally it was over, and both hawks spent a few moments adjusting feathers.

After Glow - 7404

And right about the time I decided I needed to leave, both hawks took off, flying east and across the Harlem River.

Posted 3/21/2015 10:47:00 PM by Robert

3/19, Central Park North Meadow & Great Hill

A friend relayed a report the other day of a birdwatcher recently encountering five juvenile red-tailed hawks being spotted in the north end of Central Park. That sounded pretty amazing, especially at this time of year. But Thursday at lunch time, I apparently encountered them all in the space of an hour. An adult hawk made it a half dozen sightings.

First half decent pictures were of a juvenile flailing about in an evergreen treetop by the 96th St. transverse close to the west loop road.

96th Transverse Hawk - 7080

96th Transverse Hawk - 7086

Initially it seemed that the hawk might be trying to hold something down while it pulled pieces off to eat, but then I wondered if it was trying to get at something inside the foliage.

96th Transverse Hawk - 7087

96th Transverse Hawk - 7093

Then something swooped out of the sky, and the juvie hawk tore out of the tree and headed toward the North Meadow.

Circling Juvie Hawk #1 - 7101

And then I realized there were multiple hawks circling around over the North Meadow Recreation Center. They kept at it long enough that I was eventually able to determine that there were three of them. Were a pair of adults trying to chase the juvenile out of the area?

Well, there was a juvenile with a damaged right-6 feather in its tail.

Circling Juvie Hawk #2 - 7110

And a juvenile whose tail feathers looked undamaged.

Circling Juvie Hawk #1 - 7114

Circling Juvie Hawk #1 - 7115

Circling Juvie Hawk #1 - 7116

Ah, and one adult.

Circling Adult Hawk - 7117

And then poof, all three were gone, scattering to points east.

Well, that was exciting, but now it was time to head back toward the office.

But on the southeast flank of the Great Hill there was another juvenile perched on a tall stump.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #1 - 7155

On top of a squirrel on top of a tall stump.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #1 - 7158

But not eating. Just looking around.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #1 - 7166

While I was watching this juvenile, another hawk sped north just beyond the trees around the rim of the Great Hill. Well, one more picture and move on.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #1 - 7214

But 100 yards up the loop road was another juvenile red-tail perched on a tall stump.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #2 - 7230

Looks small, so probably a boy hawk.

While I maneuvered to get closer to this juvie, the one that had flown by a few minutes ago flew back and landed in a nearby tree, but then took off before I could get my camera in position. So that makes five juvie hawks spotted between the 96th St. Transverse and the Great Hill.

A couple more shots of juvie #4, who had changed trees.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #2 - 7239

And when he made his exit, so did I.

Great Hill Juvie Hawk #2 - 7240

Posted 3/19/2015 08:24:00 PM by Robert

3/17, Central Park North Woods

For all the attention on hawk nests lately, there are still some juvenile red-tails lurking about Manhattan. I ran into one of them hunting near the Block House in Central Park's North Woods late Tuesday.

Block House Hawk - 7008

Block House Hawk - 7015

Very actively hunting. Take your eye off him for one second, and bang, he's around the hill and out of sight.

Posted 3/17/2015 06:58:00 PM by Robert

3/14, Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove

In a couple visits earlier this year, I wondered if the red-tailed hawks at the north end of Highbridge Park were working on a new nest about a 100 feet away from the one they'd used the past two years. Checking there the end of Saturday afternoon, it instead looked much more likely that they'll be continuing with the existing nest.

The male, George, flew in almost at the same time as I walked up. He landed on a tall stump a bit up the hillside.

Highbridge George - 6811

Highbridge George - 6812

Highbridge George - 6813

Ah, and he has food.

Highbridge George - 6814

But the food wasn't for him. George began calling for the female, Martha.

Highbridge George - 6815

But she apparently wasn't within earshot. George kept calling, and flew around to several other spots in the nest area, looking for Martha.

Highbridge George - 6858

After twenty minutes be apparently decided that he'd earned some of the rat for himself and had a few bites, carried the rat up to the nest, and had a few more butes.

He left the rat in the nest and flew around to a couple more perches in the area, scanning the skies. After close to a half hour, he apparently gave up and flew away. But on my own way out, I found him perched just down the street atop the nearest of the Dyckman Houses, preening and watching the nest area.

Posted 3/14/2015 09:03:00 PM by Robert