5/2, Grant's Tomb Babies

Neighborhood birdwatchers Jeff and Lynn reported Wednesday two weeks ago that there might have been a hatch at the Grant's Tomb red-tail hawk nest. "Mrs. Grant" seemed to be either feeding or preening a new hatchling. A few days later, birdwatcher Melody commented that the mother appeared to be feeding in two directions. Wednesday evening I confirmed that there were at least two nestling at the GT nest, and they are big enough to watch the hawkwatchers.

Just before 7:00 p.m., a feeding was in its end moves. Although not apparent at the time, a close look at photos did reveal one or two fuzzy white blobs through the nest sticks.


In just a minute or two, though, the feeding was over and it was time to take out the trash.


Quickly enough mama was back in the area, first stopping at the International House.


Where she could be scanning the area, and sometimes looking high up. Hmmm, was one of the neighbor falcons on the prowl?


And then Mrs. Grant shifted over to the top of the tomb.


Again some high-up looks.

Mrs. Grant shifted to a lower point on the tomb dome. Then about 15 minutes after leaving the nest, she returned to perch on the light tower railing.


Some more skyward looks. Then back into the nest, where she started fussing about.

Walking across the street to another vantage point, I looked back and found someone white and fuzzy was looking back.


And quite evidently it had at least one sibling for company.


Things seem to be going well at the Grant's Tomb hawk nest so far, although birdwatcher Jeff has resorted witnessing a couple of screaming matches with talon-flashing between hawks and falcons.

By the way, if first hatch did occur on April 18th as suggested, them it's likely that the Grant's Tomb was the first Manhattan red-tail nest to have a hatch this season.

Posted 5/03/2018 02:25:00 AM by Robert

5/2, St. John the Divine

The hawk nesting situation at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains a bit confusing, but by all appearances, the first clutch of eggs has failed and there's a possibility that the hawks aren't bothering with a second try.

In several visits to the area in the past two weeks, I have usually found one or both of the hawks perching in the area. But on only one visit did I see either visit the nest, and that was the male for just a moment. Nevertheless, one of the local dogwalkers informs me that one of the duo was busy in the nest on Tuesday morning.

Early Wednesday evening, I found both in the area. The new male was on the scaffolding at the east end of St. Luke's Hospital.


Where he stayed for the 30 minutes or so that I was in the area.


The female was in the cathedral turret to the eft of the nest turret. She might have flown in while I was watching the male, as I thought I had checked that spot earlier.


But aside from changing her perch in the turret once, she also seemed inclined to stay put, watching the vicinity and preening.

Posted 5/03/2018 01:38:00 AM by Robert

4/19 & 4/20, St. John the Divine

For the first time since February, I saw both of the cathedral red-tailed hawks on Thursday and Friday this week. Their behavior Thursday was confusing, but Friday's observations suggested that there has been a failure of the clutch of eggs presumably laid about a month ago. But wait… there was even more to learn.

Thursday started as usual, with no hawk visible. But right after I found a new vantage point for checking the nest, a hawk became visible, and then flew out of the nest. Even more interesting another hawk was visible in the nest, apparently settling down to brood eggs. Did I catch part of a switch-off? Or what? In less than a minute the first hawk returned to the nest.

Arrival - 8940

That was the female, Madeleine, out and back. Moments later, the male flew off toward Amsterdam Ave., banking right as if he was headed for the Columbia campus.

But Madeleine did not settle back into the nest, but sat up and watched the skies.

Madeleine - 8950

And very visibly so.

Madeleine - 8957

And then after 7-8 minutes she flew out, toward Central Park. The nest then remained unattended until I departed 10 minutes later.

Confusing, no?

Early Friday evening, first hawk in sight was perched on a roofline gargoyle about 60 feet from the nest.

Madeleine on a Gargoyle - 8992

And that was Madeleine, the female. Why is she over there?

Although she seemed to be watching the skies to the south, she was also preening.

Madeleine on a Gargoyle - 9005

And then one of the drivers stuck in the traffic jam on Morningside Drive alerted me to a hawk perched all of 40 feet behind my back.

New Cathedral Male Hawk - 9016

Looks smallish, so I figured it was the male (having not yet examined pictures and determined that the hawk higher up was the female).

New Cathedral Male Hawk - 9019

But as I looked at the guy, and especially the feathers on his throat… Hmmmm …

New Cathedral Male Hawk - 9026

This is a new male hawk. He has a nice white patch on his throat below his beak, whilst the male of previous years (Norman?) had a very solidly brown throat.

I turned around to check if Madeleine was still perched up on the gargoyle, and the male took the opportunity to quietly disappear.

Madeline remained in place.

Madeleine on a Gargoyle - 9045

But about 10 minutes later the male zoomed in, and mating ensued.

Hawk Hanky-Panky - 9052

Hawk Hanky-Panky - 9054

And then of course he was off again, leaving Madeleine to preen her ruffled feathers and settle back down.

Madeleine on a Gargoyle - 9062

Where she remained until I departed 10 minutes later.


Four weeks after an egg was apparently laid in the cathedral nest and brooding began, a mating occurred. This plus the hawks' willingness to leave the nest attended for 10-30 minutes suggests that the first clutch has failed. Which is to say, failed again, as the current cathedral hawk nest location has had "issues".

And… there's a new male at the cathedral nest.

Posted 4/21/2018 01:24:00 AM by Robert

4/13 & 4/17, St. John the Divine

Apparently my timing has been poor and perhaps it's my lack of patience, but it has been two weeks since I spotted a hawk in the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A neighborhood dog walker assures me she has seen activity at the nest, so cross-your-fingers, let's hope things are going well.

It's not like I haven't seen a hawk at all. The male was perched at the top of the cathedral on the statue of the Archangel Gabriel early the evening of Friday, April 13.

Cathedral Hawk - 8733

Where he stayed for a half hour or more, waiting out observers below.

Early evening on Tuesday, April 17, the female hawk was perched on a gargoyle about 30 feet away from the nest.

Cathedral Hawk - 8834

Cathedral Hawk - 8843

Cathedral Hawk - 8863

Assuming there has been no problem, first hatch at the cathedral nest could happen in a few days. But given recent weather, well, who knows.

Posted 4/18/2018 01:54:00 AM by Robert

3/31, Spot the Hawk

Spot the Hawk

Always keep your eyes open when you're about town. You could be inline skating along Flatbush Ave. at sunset, for example, and have a hawk fly by and perch overhead.

Posted 3/31/2018 10:28:00 PM by Robert

3/29, Grant's Tomb

The General - 8458

Both adult red-tails at Grant's Tomb were observed early Thursday evening, although the female incompletely and very briefly. A glimpse was obtained of her quickly changing position in the nest, after which her tail feathers were poking up.

Just about the same time, the male flew by the nest and perched in a tree above the guard booth. He stayed for at least 10 minutes.

The nest, by the way, is in a new light tower this year, at the southeast corner of the tomb retaining wall and overlooking the front plaza. When egg brooding began is not clear — just that it was probably after March 16 but before March 23.

Posted 3/29/2018 07:47:00 PM by Robert

3/23, St. John the Divine

Madeleine in Her Nest

Brooding at the red-tail nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine looks to be under way, as the female was spotted changing her nest position late Friday afternoon. How long she has been at it is unknown, as sightlines on the nest make it extremely difficult to see her except when she moves around. (A formerly good spot to the north is now obstructed by hospital scaffolding.) Possibly it has been a week, but likely not more.

Posted 3/23/2018 07:18:00 PM by Robert

3/9, The 2018 Nesting Season

A new season of hawkwatching has begun as red-tailed hawks around Manhattan are working on their nests and showing signs that eggs will soon be laid.

Hawks will again be nesting in Morningside Heights at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Grant's Tomb locations. The only change is that the Grant's Tomb pair have relocated their nest to a different light stanchion on the tomb perimeter, possibly because of park path reconstruction below the old nest.

At both sites, the females were observed late this week spending time in their nests, quietly watching the skies. There was speculation that the Grant's Tomb female might already by brooding, but it seems more likely that she was "overnighting" and getting used to spending prolonged time in the nest in advance of actual egg-laying.

What effect the winter weather has had on nesting schedules is hard to guess. FWIW, last year both the cathedral and tomb nests apparently had females overnighting if not brooding by March 10. But also recall that the cathedral nest had an early failure and that they "re-clutched" in mid April.

Posted 3/09/2018 06:42:00 PM by Robert