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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Other Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawk sightings

Occasionally I receive e-mail from people regarding Red-tailed Hawk sightings or requests for information about our city hawks. I found the following note interesting and thought I'd share it. It gives you an idea of how common Red-tailed Hawks are becoming around New York City.


I thought I'd try you with my question/observations. Noting the posting on your blog from Feb. 18, I have seen individual red-tails in the vicinity of Bartell Pritchard Circle, both inside and outside the perimeter of the park, several times recently.

I work in downtown Brooklyn and last November, for a few days, I observed a red-tail in the small park in Cadman Plaza, adjacent to the Post Office: no big deal, right? Probably a migrating bird. Two weeks ago, in mid-February, I saw another red-tail perched in the same tree the other hawk seemed to prefer. And then this Saturday, on Sackett and Hoyt Streets, near to St. Agnes Church and the Gowanus Housing Projects, I saw another red-tail chasing the flocks of pigeons that are common in Carroll Gardens. Any thoughts about these sightings?


(Photo credit - Rob J)

Given the time of year, the hawk in downtown Brooklyn could have been just a migrant passing through the area. "Bull's Birds of New York State" describes their fall migration as running as late as mid-October to November.

I've been trying to do an unofficial tally of the Red-tailed Hawks in New York City and there are a lot of them! It's possible that there may be an established pair somewhere in the downtown vicinity.

The six Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery adults seem to move outside of the park fairly frequently. I've watched them in the Botanic Gardens, as well as, hunting above the Park Slope Brownstone roofs (probably for squirrels and pigeons). Last year a woman wrote me about a pair of juveniles that suddenly appeared in Owl's Head Park. I think they are still around that area. About a month ago my friend Shane and I watched a pair flying south above Coney Island Avenue. Maybe they were headed towards Floyd Bennett Field. Also, I remember reading about a pair that tried unsuccessfully for two years to nest on a platform in Thompson Square Park in Manhattan. There is a very informative book on Red-tailed Hawks by Charles R. Preston. He describes them as being "magnificent generalists" and "jacks-of-all-trades" due to their ability to adapt to almost any conditions and surroundings.


Anonymous said...

Here in the wilds of Riverdale, we have an juvenile red-tail who hunts the area outside my window just about every day. Too bad the local kestrel doesn't like him.

We also have some older red-tailed hawks who come around, possibly the first year's folks, and a Cooper's who was just here yesterday. That's the wild Bronx for you.

Newbie said...

Juvenile Red-Tails in Owl's Head Park in Brooklyn? Now you have me wondering if the "Cooper's Hawk" I saw on the fire escape was really a juvenile Red-Tail. My Audubon book only shows the back of the Red-Tail (displaying the red tail). However, the hawk I saw didn't seem to have a red tail. But he appeared bigger than a crow and had yellow eyes and heavy barring on the chest. However, this bird's body looked more tapered than photos I've seen of Red-Tail's.

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