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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Fledge Time Updates

Fledge time is approaching for the various city Red-tailed Hawk chicks. Here are some recent updates from around the five boroughs. The first is from Lincoln K. who monitors the famous Pale Male and his mate, Lola, who nest on a building on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park:

Subject: Premature Fledging today
From: Lincoln K.
Date: 5/30/04 1:22 AM

At 5:06 PM today (Saturday May 29, 04) while practicing to fly, one of the chicks was blown off the nest, into the air above the nest building. It then came to a safe landing on the front edge of the roof. After several minutes of frolicking up and down the roof it attempted to fly again. It went over Fifth Ave and across to [Woody Allen's] building where it brushed against the wall of a building just north of Woody's and sailed downward out of sight.

I gained access to Woody's terrace and another lower terrace but was unable to see any sign of the bird. Both parents were in the area when I was looking. Lola went to the nest later and slept normally with the two remaining chicks. Hopefully by tomorrow the early fledger will surface.

(Photo credit - Lincoln Karim)

This report is from Janet S. who has been monitoring a pair in Green-wood Cemetery, near Prospect Park:

Subject: G-W redtails
From: Janet S.
Date: 5/30/04 4:42 PM

Hi Rob--

A quick drive over to the Green-Wood [Cemetery] redtails shows that the young have been growing, growing, growing in the two wks since I last saw them.

At first I only could see one nestling, but later I saw another big wing rise up and a body, but never saw the second one's head. The nest is huge--it seems to have a back extension.

The nestling's head is feathered out--but it still has that big-eyed baby face. Marie said they were pretty well feathered out last week except for the fluffy white head. So maybe they are almost a week ahead of yours, but it is striking how quickly they grow up.

The one I could see clearly was doing the usual wing flapping, standing at the edge of the nest. So I guess soon they'll be going, going, gone.

Chris L. has been monitoring a pair nesting in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx:

Subject: Bronx redtails
From: Christopher L.
Date: 6/1/04 1:54 PM

Things have gone very well for Travis and Jodie, our Bronx redtails--they hatched out three chicks, all of which seem pretty close to fledging, though one is noticeable less developed than the others, and has to scramble for his/her share of the food. As of this past Saturday, they were all testing their wings, and showing a lot of adult plumage, though they've still got a ways to go. I would expect at least one of them to leave the nest within the next week (if this hasn't happened already), but it might be a while longer than that before the nest is empty.

Travis, the male, is only rarely seen around the nest, though we had him sitting on a branch just a short distance from us, preening nonchalantly, just last week. He's mainly busy hunting--John [Y.], who lives in a building overlooking the woods, tells me he saw redtails hunting pigeons over the stables before he ever knew there was a nest--since then, he's watched both adults descend through the forest canopy to where he now knows the nest to be, from the vantage point of his apartment terrace.

However, he mentioned later that the pigeons seemed to have thinned out, and I noted that in recent weeks, most of the prey the adults were bringing has been mammalian--squirrels, chipmunks, etc. The adults have often been seen flying low over the forest floor, or else waiting on a perch for something to pass within range.

The adults seem accepting of us now, less shy of revealing the nest site, and Jodie frequently lands on the nest when we are present.

Lenny [A.] has been taking pictures of the nest, both with a long lens/SLR combo, and through my TeleVue Ranger, using his Nikon Coolpix camera. Digiscoping is a new concept for him, and we're not using any kind of adapter, but he's taken some decent shots, which document the progress of the young. Yolanda has had even better results drawing the birds.

I doubt very much anybody will be lucky enough to witness the fledgings, given the relatively low number of people visiting the nest. Happily, there's no need for nest monitoring, since the nest is in a reasonably safe location, with little chance of the chicks running into any traffic-related mishaps. About as natural a setting for a redtailed hawk nest as one could hope to find in the five boroughs.

I'll update you when we first confirm fledging has taken place, and thanks for the info. :-)

Barry and his wife, Rita, have been keeping tabs on a pair of Red-tailed Hawks in Inwood Hill Park. Below is an excerpt from his recent post on NYSBIRDS-listserv.

Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2004
From: Barry F.

Last Sunday (May 30), Rita and I went to Inwood Hill Park (at the northern tip of Manhattan Island) in the late afternoon. A caveat: those who don't already know exactly where the nest is will have a very difficult time finding it. With all the lush foliage surrounding it, one has to know exactly where to stand (on the north side of the soccer field), and exactly where to look (to the south side of the field), in order to see into the nest. Our first look was disappointing. The nest seemed empty. Had the chicks fledged? But eventually, we saw some movement and finally, one nestling stood up, giving us a good view of a Red-tail well into its juvenile plumage. The second youngster was concealed in the right side of the nest, partially hidden behind a thick branch. After another while, we saw a wing move and knew that two nestlings were still "home." Later, both stood side by side and delighted us with hopping and flapping. Sometime between 4 and 6 PM, what we took to be mama hawk appeared high overhead, circled the area for a while and then came in for what seemed a rough landing on a tree perhaps 30 yards from the nest tree. Near 6 and just before we left, papa hawk flew around the area (our first look at him this season). Let me emphasize that we DO NOT KNOW whether or not these adults are the same individuals that have nested in this location previously. In past years, the adult male's flight feathers always seemed to me to have a "ratty" unkempt appearance. This guy's feathers were not as messy looking as I remember, but he had a definite gap near the tip of each wing, giving him a somewhat odd appearance in flight. He started at least one stoop while we were watching but just as suddenly canceled the attack.

We were able to entice quite a few people to look through our modest scope and were rewarded with many oohs and ahhs and newly-aroused awareness of city wildlife. Among the satisfied "customers" was a sleek thirtyish man who drove up on his expensive-looking bicycle. When told that we were looking at Red-tailed Hawks, he said: "They must be Pale Male's kids." When I asked why he thought that, he patiently explained to me that he had seen the documentary on PBS and "knew" that Pale Male was the first Red-tailed Hawk in NYC, so that these birds must be his offspring. It took me quite a while to disabuse this obviously intelligent and interested person of his misinformation.

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