March 29, 2016

3/29, Grant's Tomb

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6661

As great as it was to find out there was a new red-tailed hawk nest in the Morningside Heights neighborhood this season, it was downright anazing to learn that there were actually three. But hawkwatchers Melody and Jeff alerted us the weekend of March 19 that the nest site at nearby Grant's Tomb was active. Urban Hawks visited the area and reported on the discovery. We were up there last week and confirmed there was a hawk in the Grant's Tomb nest, but this evening, we got excellent looks at her.

No activity to be seen when we first arrived about 6:45, but a few minutes later as we were looking away from the nest, a big hawk came soaring overhead and landed in a tree near the playground atop the knoll north of the monument. It was immediately obvious she was having a meal.

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6662

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6663

But Tuesday evening was windy and perhaps that perch in the tree was too unstable to continue the meal. After a few quick bites, the hawk was in the air, circling around, first low.

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6669

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6671

(Note the extra leg hanging down. Dinner is part of a pigeon.)

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6672

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6673

A couple more circles and working higher, then briefly out of sight to the east behind the International House. Re-appearing a half minute later and hovering higher.

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6690

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6694

Another circle, and then northeast and downward, disappearing somewhere in the rooftops around Tiemann Place.

Apparently she found somewhere to finish dinner in peace, as it was about ten minutes before the hawk returned, way up when first seen.

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6724

Hovering again, and scanning the area.

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6729

Grant's Tomb Hawk - 6733

And then swoop to the south and land on the railing on the light platform that holds the nest

Grant's Tomb Hawk Nest - 6750

And content she was to perch there for a while, leading us to wonder where the male was and what about the eggs. Usually when you see a female hawk return to the nest after a break, the male pops out immediately, and the female quickly looks things over and then clambers back in. But not this evening. The female stayed on the railing for close to ten minutes.

Grant's Tomb Hawk Nest - 6756

As the sun hit the horizon, she hopped down onto the platform, at which point we found out what a gentleman the male hawk was. He'd been in the nest the entire time taking care of the eggs. Despite the female having returned to the nest site ten minutes earlier, he had been considerate and waited until she actually made a move to get into the nest before he uncovered the eggs and made his exit.

So, yes, despite whatever craziness occurred last summer between Grant's Tomb red-tailed hawks and Riverside Church peregrine falcons, the hawk nest is in use again this year. Given the light eyes of the female hawk seen this evening, one suspects that she is young and not the same female who was there last year. Possibly a pair of hawks checking out the area this winter saw the old nest and decided to make use of it. Whatever the case, they are somehow co-existing — for the moment — with a pair of falcons resident less than two blocks away and another pair of red-tails about six blocks away.

March 28, 2016

3/28, St. John the Divine

Cathedral Hawk - 6587

Early Monday evening finally came confirmation that red-tailed hawk nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is in use this year. About 6:15, a couple us found Madeleine perched on one side of the nest, watching the skies.

And continue to watch the skies she did. From first sight until sunset, Madeleine stayed up, and not down in the nest brooding eggs.

After about ten minutes she did move to the other side of the nest.

Cathedral Hawk - 6609

But she stayed in that spot for a good half hour. Then she stood up and turned around...

Cathedral Hawk - 6630

Fussed around for just a moment, but then sat down much as she had been, continuing to watch the skies. Was dinner delivery so extremely late that she was willing to watch for it rather than cover eggs?

March 25, 2016

3/25, St. John the Divine

I have yet to see definite hawk activity at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine this nesting season, nor have I heard of such from any of the neighborhood birdwatchers and dogwalkers. But a few photos taken early evening Friday suggest that there may be a mama hawk brooding quietly in the cathedral nest.

Sorry about the fuzziness, but the distance was about 800 feet.

March 10, 2016

3/10, Nesting Begins

New Riverside Hawk Nest - 6311

Hawk nesting season began on Wednesday evening in Manhattan, with reports from three nesting sites that the female red-tailed hawks were spending their first overnights in their nests. This usually precedes egg-laying by a day or two. The three nests in question were the new Riverside Park nest at 116th St (aka, Morningside West, shown above), Inwood Hill Park, and the Central Park Fifth Ave. nest.

But it seems one nest was running ahead of that schedule, as word came Thursday afternoon that the hawks at J. Hood Wright Park (uptown near the George Washington Bridge) had been spotted doing a switch-off on their nest. That means there's at least one egg in the nest, so when the female needs a break from egg-tending duty, she switches off with the male on keeping the clutch covered.

So look for first Manhattan red-tail hatch come about April 10.

Riverside Hawk - 6265

March 2, 2016

3/2, Riverside and 116th

Riverside Hawk - 6194

Late on a blustery Wednesday afternoon, one of the new Morningside Heights hawks was busy hunting in the vicinity of the nest site. Very busy. Hardly had it been spotted in a tree inside Riverside Park at 116th St. then it was on the move.

Riverside Hawk - 6196

And into a tree a half block south.

Riverside Hawk - 6200

Constantly scanning the ground for prey.

Riverside Hawk - 6204

Switch places again, dropping down to a stairway railing, where we find that the hawk is very used to humans.

Riverside Hawk - 6220

Several people walked past as it perched there, some less oblivious than others.

Hop over to the next railing, and keep looking around for something edible.

Riverside Hawk - 6222

Riverside Hawk - 6238

Then back up into a tree above the path.

Riverside Hawk - 6241

Riverside Hawk - 6248

One more short flight to a nearby tree, and then the hawk vacated the scene, heading down toward the highway before veering south.