March 10, 2017

3/10, Around the Heights

Word has begun to roll in of Manhattan's female red-tailed hawks overnighting in their nests, an activity they will engage in not long before the first egg is laid. At one site, possible brooding has already been reported. On Friday evening, it looked like the two nests in Morningside Heights were among this group.

At St. John the Divine about 15 minutes before sunset, what appeared to be a hawk head was just visible above the edge of the nest. Possibly it was a piece of bark poking up, but there were solid arguments that it was actually a hawk.

Cathedral Hawk Nest - 1405

First, whatever was poking up also moved about — not just from side to side as you might expect in a breeze but also dropping down a couple times.

But more importantly, on Thursday at about the same time, the two St. John's hawks performed what looked like a switch-off at the nest. That is: a hawk who had been perched on the hospital roof flew over to the nest, the other hawk then got up from the nest and left, and the first hawk plunked down into the nest. If it was indeed a switch-off, then it also means that the St. John's nest likely has egg(s) in it — a week earlier than it has in the past.

Up at Grant's Tomb, there have been reports all week about the female either being busy in the nest or else lurking close by. Friday at sunset, it wasn't immediately clear whether she was up there. Something like tail feathers were poking up from the nest, but I've seen that before and it turned out no hawk was there.

GT Hawk Nest - 1441

But 15 minutes later after darkness was setting in, and the cold had prodded me to head south, I looked back to see that the female was definitely up there. She had stood up to make some adjustments to the nest contents.

GT Hawk Nest - 1457

If the Grant's Tomb nest was on the same schedule as last year, then this weekend was about the right time for an egg to be laid. Possibly that's already happened, but possibly the female is still just doing an overnight.

Elsewhere, the bachelor hawk of Riverside Park was spotted by a couple people early Tuesday evening, lurking about his usual haunts in the 113th-114th St. area.

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