June 18, 2018

6/17, Grant's Tomb

For those concerned about the third, uncaught Grant's Tomb hawk fledgling, she was captured Saturday afternoon in the Claremont Playground area. It was a team effort, with local birdwatchers, Ranger Rob, and WINORR rescuer Bobby all paying their parts. Special kudos should be given to the birdwatchers (Susan, Jeff, Lynn et al.) who monitored the next area for so many hours all week.

Lonely and Hungry - 1180

Other word is that the fledglings' mother is slowly recovering, but the father is still missing. The three youngsters will likely be individually released as "foster children" in other red-tail nesting areas.

June 15, 2018

6/14, Grant's Tomb

Lonely Fledgling - 1099

The third fledgling at Grant's Tomb was still on the loose Thursday evening. Despite five days with presumably no good meal, it seems to be healthy and stronger than you'd expect. Watchers have speculated that it may have raided a robin's nest for nourishment.

First view I had of the bird on Thursday it was in the air over Riverside Drive, but the gusty winds seemed to push it pack to the nest platform. Others reported watching it fly back and forth between this years and last year's nest earlier in the day.

Lonely Fledgling - 1107

Thereafter it was quietly perched for the next hour or more. It was good to see that it was preening, a sign that even if it's extremely hungry and lonely it is at least not sick.

Lonely Fledgling - 1144

Again, others have been watching out for the solitary fledgling, waiting for it to come to the ground where it can be caught and taken to rehab. Parks Dept. rangers were reported to have checked in Thursday to see if they could capture the bird, but were unable to do anything because she was staying 50+ feet up.

June 14, 2018

6/13, Grant's Tomb

Hungry and Lonely - 1041

The hawk situation at Grant's Tomb has continued to evolve, somewhat for the better but not as well as one might have hoped. As of early Wednesday evening just one of the three young hawks remained on the loose, but presumably it has eaten little in the past four days.

Early Monday, one fledgling was caught by rescue-rehabber Bobby Horvath on the steps of Grant's Tomb. But the remaining nestling fledged so catching it on the nest site was not possible.

A second fledgling was caught early Tuesday evening by Parks Dept. rangers, not quite on the ground but low enough that it could be safely netted.

The third, however, was still uncaught another day later. Although it was seen flying about during the day, it seems to have spent much of Wednesday perched on the nest platform railing, generally quiet but looking around and preening.

Birdwatchers have kept the area under fairly thorough watch, so there is hope that the solitary fledgling will be quickly caught when it gets weaker and comes to ground.

Hungry and Lonely - 1066

As for the parents, the mother (Mrs. Grant) was said to be still alive, but likely to remain under care for some time. A third-hand report was received that the father (the General) crashed through an apartment window last week, and although able to flee the scene has, as noted, not been seen since.

June 10, 2018

6/10, Grant's Tomb Hawk First Fledges


Two of the young red-tailed hawks at Grant's Tomb fledged Sunday evening, which on the face of it sounds like good news. But other news there is not so good, and more bad news could follow.

On Saturday came word that one of the parents had been struck by a car mid afternoon. Follow-up information indicated that the mother was suffering from second-hand rodenticide poisoning, which likely caused her to be ill and/or disoriented, and thus flying too low. Although the injury from the car was relatively minor, she was last reported in not good shape due to blood loss, as rodenticides in common use these days are anti-coagulants.

But area birdwatchers have also been concerned because the father hawk has not been confirmed seen the past couple days. He was possibly spotted up Riverside Drive late Saturday and on Sunday afternoon, but that bird may have been the yearling "brown tail" who has continued to hang about the area.

In any event, all three GT kids were at the nest site at 6:00 Sunday evening, one on the railing above, one in the nest, and one moving about between the nest platform and a beam sticking out from the platform.


The two birds not in the nest were doing a fair amount of crying, and watchers wondered if they had spotted a hawk to the north in the Manhattanville area. The one in the nest seemed like it might be pecking on leftovers.


The nestling on the projecting beam gave some semi-flaps as it stretched or changed position. It did not seem like anything serious, as if it might be on the verge of fledging.


Oh, wait.

At 6:23, that young hawk started flapping, and flying, heading north. It was flying strongly enough that it gained some altitude, but not quite enough to reach the roof of the International House about two short blocks away. Instead it ended up in the top of a tall tree at the northwest corner entrance to Sakura Park, some 40-50 feet short of the I House. It was deep enough into the foliage that getting any decent photos was out of the question.

Back at the nest, the nestling on the railing peered with interest towards its departed sibling. The other looked bored, with nothing particular on its mind.

Hawkwatchers wandered back north to check on the new fledgling. Then back to check on the nest. Wait, what, there's only one bird up there.

Only One Nestling? 0916

Indeed, the bored looking nestling had sneakily left the nest about 6:45. Robin noise (really, a mass robin freak-out) alerted us that the second fledgling was somewhere along West 122nd St., and it was spotted on the lowest eave on the north side of Riverside Church.

GT Hawk Fledgling 2 - 0921
GT Hawk Fledgling 2 - 0937

I had to depart the area, but came back a half hour later. Still the one nestling, not only crying for food but also loneliness.

Final GT Hawk Nestling - 0971

The second fledgling still perched on the eave, a good spot where it was probably safe from hostile falcon activity.

GT Hawk Fledgling 2 - 0996

The first fledgling was not in view and seemed might have departed its treetop. Another birdwatcher later reported that about sunset that it had been spotted across Riverside Drive in the trees near Claremont Playground and may have subsequently gone to roost back south close to Grant's Tomb.

The question on Monday will be if the Grant's Tomb father hawk is still around. But even if he is healthy and delivering food to the kids, there's a good chance that one or more could end up having to be rescued. You may recall that some years ago when one of the St. John's cathedral parent hawks died about fledging time that one fledgling from that nest was not getting enough food and was eventually rescued and taking to rehabbers.

June 9, 2018

6/8, Grant's Tomb


Another two days later, and it seems that the although the Grant's Tomb baby hawks are of an age to fledge the nest, they're in no hurry to do so.

Friday evening, it was again a case of one nestling perched on the railing above the nest whilst the other two lurked on the nest platform. I'm told that earlier in the day, two were spotted perched on the railing at the same time.


A parent must have appeared in the nestlings' field of view, as around 7:30, they got very attentive to the north and a solo, sometimes duet of begging cries began.


But despite 10 or 15 minutes of such screeching, there were no food deliveries before I made my exit.

June 7, 2018

6/6, Grant's Tomb

Seven weeks after first report of a possible hatch at the Grant's Tomb red-tailed hawk nest, it looks like first fledge could happen any day.

GT Hawk Nest - 0583

Early on a breezy Wednesday evening, all three kids were initially visible on the nest site, but one of them was perched on the railing about three feet about the nest platform.

The "branching" bird preened for a bit, but then showed off its wing feathers as it changed position.

GT Hawk Nest - 0600
GT Hawk Nest - 0604
GT Hawk Nest - 0607

The nestling on the railing did have fuzzy areas along its eyebrows which suggested it might not yet be old enough to make the big jump. Perhaps it was the middle child rather than eldest. And it's probably too early to assert anything, but it did look skinny enough that I wondered if it was a boy.

GT Hawk Nest - 0616

Nevertheless, fledge watch at Grant's Tomb is now on. Let's hope first flights are easy and safe ones like last year, when the first kid out of the nest just made a short trip of 15-20 feet to a nearby treetop.

June 2, 2018

6/1, Grant's Tomb

The first report of a possible hatch at the red-tailed hawk nest at Grant's Tomb came on April 18, so on first calculation, it seemed that this weekend might be time for the first of the three nestlings to fledge the nest. But a visit early Friday evening indicates that the feathers of the eldest are not quite developed yet for making first flight.


First view of the nest showed the three young hawks individually engaged in three of their favorite activities: preening, sleeping, and watching the skies. All that was missing was feeding and flapping.

Another hawkwatcher reported seeing the mother flying through the area, but as we looked around, all we could find was the father, perched atop 560 Riverside, reputedly one his favorite hang-outs.


But as we looked up Riverside, another hawk flew across the street and landed in a tree near Claremont Playground.


It wasn't apparent until looking at the photo later that this hawk had light eye-coloring. Which means...?


Indeed, after it changed locations twice, ending up on the north end of the International House roof, someone finally noted the hawk was a brown-tail, i.e., a year-old red-tail who wasn't molted yet.


The interloper stayed in that spot, looking around. When would one of the Grant's Tomb hawks arrive to chase him off? Or one of the Riverside Church falcons?


One direction the young hawk looked was down, and finally it was noted that one of the GT hawks was in the area. Mrs. Grant was perched atop 532 Riverside dressing a pigeon.


And apparently she didn't care a whit about the intruder perched perhaps 100 feet away.


After a few minutes she took off to deliver the pigeon to the nest. The year-old stayed put, but looking up rather than watching her.


Rhythmic screeching quickly ensued as one of the Riverside falcons finally came around to make a pass by the youngster, but he stayed put.

Back at the nest, feeding was happening. But it was just one of the nestlings feeding itself whilst the other two stayed on the sideline.


Not sure if the bird eating was eldest or middle child, but it definitely wasn't youngest. Based on head feather development, youngest would seem to be the nestling at far right. And during the next five-ten minutes, youngest periodically lit off with begging noises.

And up the street, the interloper was still in place after a half hour.


And in the nest, one nestling kept feeding while its sibs scanned the skies.


Perhaps the pace of feeding was slowing down, as youngest started edging over to see what leftovers there might for it to nosh on.


And time for me to exit.

A check of last year's history at the Grant's Tomb nest suggests that the kids were a little slow to leave the nest. First fledge may have occurred anywhere from 49 to 55 days after first hatch, the vagueness due to uncertainty about when hatch occurred. But assuming the shorter time, that suggests that first fledge this year could happen around Wednesday, June 6.

May 31, 2018

5/30, St. John the Divine


The red-tailed hawk nesting season at the Cathedral St. John the Divine appears to have been a wash-out in 2018. Although I have usually seen one or both adult hawks in the area during the past month, spotting one in the nest has been less frequent. And when it does happen, it appears that the hawk was just making a quick visit. There's been no evidence of brooding since signs in mid-April that the (first) clutch of eggs had failed.

Wednesday I found both hawks in the area. The new male was perched on the rooftop statue of the archangel Gabriel, but a moment later the female soared overhead and circled several times above the corner of 113th St. and Morningside Drive.


Tail and wing feathers are starting to look a little ragged. She may be beginning her summer molt.


After a couple minutes, she alit on the statue of Gabriel, which the male had vacated whilst I watched her.


But moments after I spotted the male further up Morningside, diving down into the park, she too disappeared, and all was quiet.

5/24, Grant's Tomb


Although neighborhood birdwatchers reported as early as May 4 that they thought they could see a third red-tail nestling in the hawk nest at Grant's Tomb (and I saw hints of that being so), it wasn't until around May 20 that the reports of a third baby hawk became frequent and definite. I finally got a clear sighting of all three on Thursday, May 24, during the early evening feeding.


Mama took care to make sure that all three got fed, then after 10-12 minutes she took off. The kids stayed up for a while, with one engaging in some vigorous wing-flapping. Then it was time to settle down and digest the meal.