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.