5/31, J. Hood Wright Park

I checked on the Washington Heights red-tailed hawk nest Sunday afternoon just as the rain started to come down. One baby hawk was up and looking around, but another who was lying down in the corner was looking back.

JHW Hawk Nestlings - 1862

Now, were there two or three up there. It turned out that the baby hawk was lying down was in a pile with the third sibling. A few minutes later all three were standing up, with sibling three flapping.

JHW Hawk Nestlings - 1891

Check the other side to see if the view there is any better.

JHW Hawk Nestlings - 1905

Just a bit, but the rain is getting worse.

JHW Hawk Nestlings - 1906

And time to vacate.

From the look of them, with wing and tail feathers looking half grown-in and heads still grayish-white, the three J. Hood Wright baby hawks appear to have another two weeks before the first is ready to fledge from the nest.

Posted 5/31/2015 10:48:00 PM by Robert

5/28, St. John the Divine

It's been very quiet around the cathedral hawk nest the last few weeks, but it seems there is still something going on up there. Thursday evening about 6:30 I spotted Madeleine in the nest, her head poking up as she looked around.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 1747

Possibly she was already in there and had sat up to ease the boredom, or perhaps she had flown in during the two minutes I had been changing viewing spots.

In any event, she sat like that for 7-8 minutes.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 1768

And then she settled down out of view.

Posted 5/28/2015 07:56:00 PM by Robert

5/23, Baby Hawks in Four Uptown Nests

Saturday afternoon I checked on four of the upper Manhattan red-tailed hawk nests and saw nestlings in each one. In a most pleasant surprise, I found one at the CCNY nest, which may be the first time I've ever actually seen a baby hawk at that location after years of looking.

The afternoon began with the Highbridge Park nest near Dyckman St. Martha was perched on the west side of the nest, where she could provide some shade to the babies within while she preened. From a viewpoint along the mountain bike trail, I was able to see one baby hawk through the nest twigs.

Highbridge Hawk Nest - 1338

Looking closer, I could see that it was looking back.

Highbridge Hawk Nestling - 1368

But in that first photo, note how although the baby hawk is on one side of the nest, Martha appears to be fussing about on the other side. Indeed, there was a second baby hawk just barely visible on that side.

Highbridge Hawk Nest - 1430

As I made my exit, Martha threw me some shade.

Throwing Shade - 1442

Up and over Fort George Hill and down into the Dyckman Valley area, I found the Gorman Park mama hawk perched at the very top of the fire escape above the nest, with all three of the baby hawks active one flight below.

Hawk and Nest - 1488

You can see their wing feathers are growing in nicely, but their head feathers haven't really begun to show yet. They look to be about a month old and not ready to fledge for maybe another two weeks.

Hawk Nestlings - 1460

Time for some flapping.

Hawk Nestlings - 1467

Hawk Nestlings - 1469

Everybody look up at mama.

Hawk Nestlings - 1481

And one last look back at the Gorman Park nest as I made my way south along Broadway.

Hawk and Nest - 1502

Up in Washington Heights proper, I reached the J. Hood Wright Park red-tail nest. There two of the babies were sitting high, while mama was doing something toward the back of the nest. Maybe feeding a third nestling, or perhaps herself.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1525

Mama would fuss about, and then turn around. I kept wondering if she was going to fly out of the nest.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1561

But she was staying put, even when one of the nestlings flapped his wings in her face.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1578

Just keeping an eye on things.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1584

JHW Hawk Nest - 1587

Over there, too.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1597

One baby stood up, where we could get a better look at each other.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1626

jHW Hawk Nest - 1636

And mama gave me a couple looks, too.

JHW Hawk Nest - 1638

Although last weekend's visit suggest to the JHW Park nest suggested there were three babies up there, I wasn't able to get a clear look Saturday to confirm that there really are three. A couple pictures suggested that the third might be toward the back, but the mother was generally blocking the view of that part of the nest.

Onward and southward to check on one more nest before the shadows got too dark. Coming down St. Nick Ave. toward 141st St., I could see a hawk was sitting up in the nest at Shepard Hall at CCNY. It was big and brown and I initially assumed it was one of the adults.

CCNY Hawk Nestling - 1684

But no, it was a baby hawk preening. Wing feathers thick and dark, a nice belly band, and the tawny breast typical of a young NYC red-tail. Its head was brown but a little light, showing that the head feathers haven't quite grown in yet.

CCNY Hawk Nestling - 1693

Nevertheless, it was apparent that this baby hawk was older than the Gorman Park nestlings, which I had assumed were the first to hatch in Manhattan this year. The CCNY baby hawk looks like it could be more than five weeks old, which means that fledging time might be as soon as the end of this coming week.

My timing at CCNY had been lucky. A couple minutes after I first reached 142st St., the visible baby hawk laid down, and from along St. Nick Ave. it looked like the nest was empty.

Posted 5/24/2015 02:58:00 AM by Robert

Manhattan 2015 Nest Checklist Update 1

7:00 Feeding - 0983

It's mid-May, so it's time to catch up on how the various red-tailed hawk nests in Manhattan have done so far this spring. Following is a table of the twelve known nests that were all brooding eggs as of mid-April. So far, it looks like eight have hatches (with at least 17 babies reported), two seem to have failed, and the status of two is unknown. The hawks at one of the failures may be giving it a second try.

Background about the twelve nests can be read here.

  Location Hatched? Babies Notes
1. East Village/Ageloff Towers Yes 3 First hatch about May 1.
2. NYU/Washington Square Yes 2 Both eggs hatched by April 27.
3. Central Park Sheep Meadow Yes 3 First hatch before May 9.
4. Fifth Ave. at 74th St. Yes 3 First hatch about April 26.
5. CPW/Beresford Apts. No Failed?
6. West End Ave./80s Yes? ??? Possible feeding observed May 16.
7. St. John the Divine No First try failed? A second clutch may have been laid about May 10.
8. CCNY Shepard Hall ???  
9. Wright Park/Ft. Washington Ave. Yes 3 First hatch probably early May.
10. Gorman Park/Fairview Ave. Yes 3 Hatch date unknown. Probably April 22-24.
11. Highbridge Park/Swindler Cove Yes? ??? Possible feeding observed May 10.
12. Inwood Hill Park ???  

In addition to the above nesting sites, there may be others in Manhattan this year. Most credibly, hawks were reported in early May to be collecting sticks on a fire escape on Third Ave. in Spanish Harlem.

Posted 5/17/2015 11:23:00 PM by Robert

5/16, J. Hood Wright Park

Checking on uptown red-tailed hawk nests late Saturday, I caught the 7:00 feeding at the J. Hood Wright Park nest and was able to count the nestlings.

The mama perched in the nest when I first arrived, just watching things.

Hawk Mama - 0944

But not long later she maneuvered around the nest to begin a feeding.

7:00 Feeding - 0980

Taking photos from just across the street, I could make out white fuzziness moving around but not quite clearing the edge of the nest.

7:00 Feeding - 0983

Moving to a spot further up the street where the viewing angle was flatter, it became apparent that there were at least two baby hawks up there.

7:00 Feeding - 1047

And after looking through photos I was able to see that there was a third to the left.

7:00 Feeding - 1059

After 20 minutes, the feeding was over and mama prepared to take out the trash. Saturday dinner had been pigeon.

Taking out the Trash - 1155

She flew west, presumably to dump the remains along the highway.

Taking out the Trash - 1161

Then returned about 10 minutes later and perched on the fire escape railing.

Hawk Mama - 1185

She eyed the sleeping baby hawks for a few minutes.

Hawk Mama - 1193

And then as rain began to fall, she hopped down into the nest to keep them dry.

Posted 5/16/2015 10:39:00 PM by Robert

5/10, Mother's Day Uptown

Sunday afternoon I checked on several red-tailed hawk nests in upper Manhattan. At three of them, I either saw nestlings or else sign that there were nestlings.

First up was the fire escape nest by J. Hood Wright Park in Washington Heights. There I apparently just missed a feeding as I found the mother perched on a nearby window railing.

J. Hood Wright Mama Hawk - 0282

Catching up on her preening.

Preening - 0295

Watching the park.

J. Hood Wright Mama Hawk - 0325

And the sidewalk below.

J. Hood Wright Mama Hawk - 0339

About 35 or 40 minutes later, as the clouds were clearing, she popped back into the nest to check on things.

J. Hood Wright Hawk Nest - 0365

She fussed around a bit and could be looking at a couple different spots in the nest. Apparently the babies were snoozing away, as she settled down beside them.

Farther north, we already knew the Gorman Park nest overlooking Fairview Ave. had seen its three eggs hatch, and probably two weeks earlier. There I could see little heads poking up, sometimes sitting up and looking around.

Gorman Park Hawk Bestlign - 0451

And not just sitting up, but standing up and flapping and stretching. A close look even revealed pin feathers.

Pin Feathers - 0461

Meanwhile, the Gorman Park parents were perched together across the valley on top of an apartment building on Ft. Washington Ave.

Walking around Fort George Hill from the west side to the north east, I came to the Highbridge Park nest near Dyckman St. and Tenth Ave. I might have arrived at the end of a feeding, as I could see a parent leaning into the nest and fussing about. In fact both parents were there, although the foliage is thick enough that I didn't realize the second was there until the male flew off.

The feeding apparently over, the mother remained perched on the side of the nest, checking the babie(s) within.

Highbridge Hawk Nest - 0573

At one spot I could just pick out a fuzzy baby hawk head visible through a gap in the nest twigs. Possibly the mother was also eying another spot, so there may well be two nestlings up there.

Highbridge Hawk Nest - 0582

Posted 5/11/2015 11:19:00 PM by Robert

5/8, St. John the Divine

When you think you have a handle on hawk behavior, it's time to think again. Either that or the hawks are deliberately confusing you. In other words, I still have no idea what's really happening at the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Friday evening at the cathedral, there was no activity around the red-tailed hawk nest when I first passed by. I took a long walk east to check out a report of a possible 13th hawk nest in Manhattan (null result) and then came back to the cathedral about 7:45. A hawk was fussing about in the nest. A moment later, the other flew in.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 0146

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 0146

The hawk who had been in the nest got up and jumped out.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 0153

Based on the missing wing feather, I think that was Norman.

But a half minute later, that hawk was back.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 0178

While I shifted to another position slightly closer to the nest, it seemed that again one hawk left, while the other settled down in the nest. But a minute later, the view was of one hawk sitting up on the side of the nest, generally keeping on things.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 0206

So maybe there are baby hawks up there. If so, I don't know how they survived some of the chilly days when the nest was unattended for anywhere up to an hour.

Posted 5/08/2015 09:45:00 PM by Robert