6/3, CCNY/Annunciation Park

Annunciation Hawk Nestling 2 - 6160

The last couple years, Manhattan hawkwatchers have wondered about the apparent dearth of red-tailed hawk nests between St. John's cathedral and the GW Bridge. On Tuesday, I received a report from area birdwatchers Jeff and Lynn that there was a very active nest near CCNY, but several blocks south of the old nest on Shepard Hall.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I visited the site at Amsterdam and 135th St., across Amsterdam from the Annunciation Playground. The nest is located on the top landing of a fire escape of a six-floor apt. building. For a half hour or more, just one nestling was visible, despite the report that were two.

Annunciation Hawk Nestling 2 - 6154

The nestling was relatively quiet. Some staring and preening and just a little wing flapping. It was a warm and very muggy day.

Annunciation Hawk Nestling 2 - 6176

After I'd been watching the site for an hour, Mama swung by for three quick visits over the span of 10 or 12 minutes.

Annunciation Hawk - 6151
Annunciation Hawk - 6155

But except for preening for a couple minutes on her last check-in, mama was not going to stay around. At last sight, she was flying south and into the Manhattanville Houses, where one expects there might be good hunting.

Belatedly, I finally spotted the other nestling and apparently the older sibling of the nest. It had been lying down and sleeping on a window ledge, its wing and tail feathers just barely visible. But at last it got up and looked around.

Annunciation Hawk Nestling 1 - 6183
Annunciation Hawk Nestling 1 - 6187

And then it was time for me to start heading home lest I get accosted by the police for violating the curfew.

The two nestlings look about six weeks old, with the sleepy one apparently the oldest based on the feathers around its eyes. They could fledge any day, and one hopes and prays that they make it safely across Amsterdam Ave. into the trees around Annunciation Playground and PS 161.

Posted 6/05/2020 02:14:00 AM by Robert

5/23, St. John the Divine

Morningside Hawk - 6056

A day after I commented that it seemed that the red-tailed hawks at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine had not figured out yet that their eggs were not going to hatch, it seemed that they may have done so.

Three checks on the nest between 6:35 and 7:15 p.m. showed that it was empty. But a hawk was briefly seen flying over Morningside Park at 6:40, and then at 7:00 both of the hawks were circling over Morningside Drive, south of the cathedral.

One hawk, looking well fed, then flew off south toward the Douglass Houses. The other may have gone to perch in the close on the south side of the cathedral.

Posted 5/23/2020 08:43:00 PM by Robert

5/22, St. John the Divine

Angel and Hawk - 5944

Friday marked 42 days since I first observed a red-tailed hawk brooding in the nest at St. John the Divine. Since then, brooding is almost all I have seen. Even a week ago when the temperature was in 80s and there'd be no need to hunker down in the nest to keep a baby hawk warm, the adult hawk in the nest was hunkered down. As incubation time for red-tails is roughly 31 days, it seems highly likely that the nest has failed. The hawks just haven't figured it out yet.

Despite the lack of posts to this blog, I have visited Morningside Drive two or three times a week since April 10. Almost every time, the head of a hawk has been visible poking up from the nest. Only a few times have I seen more than that, such as Friday, when the hawk resident in the nest stood up, looked around, and then settled back in the nest. On one other occasion a few weeks ago I also noted a hawk standing up and engaged in what looked like a brief period of egg rolling.

The hawk photo above was taken Wednesday evening, one of the two occasions in the past six weeks that I have observed two hawks in the nest area. The hawk in the photo appears to be the male, as its throat is white and last year's male (Wyatt) had white throat feathers. Also, the hawk did not appear to have a brood patch as a female would have after tending eggs for a month.

However, the hawk that stood up in the nest Friday evening had white throat feathers. So either I had spotted the male doing nest duty, or else the female is not last year's female (Madeleine), who had brown throat feathers. Only some more observations will tell, but the hawks this year have not cooperated with the timing of my visits.

Well, if the hawks won't cooperate, there is other neighborhood wildlife who will.

Morningside Raccoons - 5928
Posted 5/23/2020 12:19:00 AM by Robert

4/10, St. John the Divine.

Hawk in Nest? — 4806

The red-tailed hawk nesting season in Manhattan is in full swing, and because of the mild winter, it's possible one or two nests have already had a hatch. The status of the nest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is, however, not so clear.

Word reached us in mid-March that a sick or injured male adult red-tailed hawk had been rescued from Morningside Park by Parks Dept. rangers and that it died the next morning. Initially, this was presumed to be Wyatt, who had been the male hawk at St. John's for the past two years.

But we learned in the past at St. John's (i.e., 2008) and from more recent histories at other city nests that a replacement adult hawk can appear within a matter of days.

Because of several issues, I only made my first visit this season to West 113th St. on the afternoon of April 10. But once there the indications were that a hawk was brooding in the nest. From a good but distant viewing spot a couple blocks north, a hawk head could just be seen poking up, and it was not in the same place 30 minutes later. There were also a couple sprigs of fresh greenery that had been added to the edge of the nest within just the past few days.

Due to lack of observations of the adult hawks' behavior, it's up in the air as to when a hatch might occur. Assuming there is a new male hawk, then a hatch before April 20 seems highly unlikely, and it could be well into May. A hatch before then would indicate that Wyatt is okay and that the deceased hawk was an unfortunate intruder.

ETA: An adult hawk with Wyatt's throat coloring was photographed hunting on the north side of the Frederick Douglass Houses (West 104th St.) by a neighborhood hawk watcher on April 8. As it flew off to the north, it is assumed to not be one of the West 95th St. hawks.

Posted 4/10/2020 10:02:00 PM by Robert