As I walked along the bridle path at the edge of Quaker Ridge I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk flying north across the Nethermead Meadow. As it flew towards the Ravine I noticed that it was carrying a large branch in its talons. It's only January 17th, there's snow on the ground and finches in the trees, could they actually be preparing to nest already?
On New Years Day a group of us watched one of the red-tailed pairs playing in the sky over Breeze Hill. They were circling and calling while the male would occasionally drop his talons and hover above the female's back. I guess they were already beginning to feel the pull of a new cycle.
I tried to follow the hawk with the branch this afternoon and walked the path above the Midwood towards the Boulder Bridge. I stopped across the stream from the old nest in the Ravine pine tree to see if that was the nest he was working on. After a few minutes I heard their familiar "keeeer" call and saw a pair circling just above the tree tops close to the Boulder Bridge. Could the male have been directing his mate to a new nest to test her approval? They descended into the top of a large oak and perched next to a new nest on Payne Hill. Suddenly another adult Red-tailed Hawk flying through the woods aggressively dove towards them. The pair held their ground and she veered off at the last moment flying towards the zoo.
The pair at the new nest didn't appear to be the pair from last year's north zoo nest as the male and female were about the same size (the north zoo female is much larger than her mate). I decided to walk over to the north zoo to see if there was any work being done on last year's nest. I didn't notice any hawks in the area but there was definitely some new construction on top of the old nest. As I walked back across Nelly's Lawn I spotted "my" pair sitting side-by-side in their favorite tuliptree overlooking the meadow and the north zoo woods. Now it truly feels like a new year has begun.
Also of note today was a Pine Warbler continuing to frequent the Breeze Hill feeder and a single Pine Siskin at the top of a Tulip tree in the Ravine.
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Prospect Park, 1/17/2004 - 11am to 3pm
Wood Duck (Male, Prospect Lake.)
Red-tailed Hawk (5; 4 adults, 1 immature.)
Great Black-backed Gull
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2, Breeze Hill feeder.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (4.)
Hermit Thrush (1, behind Music Pagoda.)
Northern Mockingbird (2.)
Pine Warbler (Breeze Hill feeder.)
Chipping Sparrow (Breeze Hill feeder.)
Fox Sparrow (8, Quaker Ridge & Breeze Hill.)
White-throated Sparrow (Abundant.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Large flock at Nelly's Lawn.)
Purple Finch (Approx. 12, Vale of Cashmere.)
House Finch (3, Vale of Cashmere.)
Pine Siskin (1, tuliptree in Ravine with small flock of goldfinches.)
American Goldfinch (Approx. 20, Ravine and lamppost 249.)
Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (2), Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow
Saturday, January 17, 2004