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

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