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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Park Slope Hawks

I was standing at the crosswalk at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 5th Street, waiting for the traffic signal to change. Several pigeons flew from the roof of a building to my right and I instinctively followed them with my eyes as they passed above me. As I watched, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Red-tailed Hawk circling in the air above the intersection. A kestrel was making close, passing dives at the much larger bird of prey. Sun shining through the kestrel’s rust-colored tail made him look a bit like a tiny Red-tailed Hawk. Moments later, another Red-tailed Hawk appeared from the north and attacked the aggressive, little falcon. The kestrel realized that he was outnumbered and headed south, following 8th Avenue.

The two Red-tailed Hawks soared in slow, tight circles above the rows of brownstone homes to the east. They gradually drifted out of sight and into Prospect Park. It’s not unusual to see red-tails hunting over the neighborhood rooftops. I assume that they are looking for squirrels. During warm weather, when my wife and I relax on our roof, we frequently see squirrels using the attached buildings as their personal skyways. The local squirrels also use fire escapes, window sills and flower boxes for their leaf-lined dreys. While eating breakfast the other day we noticed one dragging leaves up the side of an adjacent building. He climbed behind the owner’s security gate and created a comfy nest between their kitchen window and the wrought iron bars.

High rent squirrel drey

(Photo credit - Rob J)


Phoebe said...

I live on the tenth floor of a Manhattan apartment building. I looked out the window and saw a squirrel on my window sill. Our courtyard has ivy-covered walls and the critter used them as a ladder to my window.

Rob J. said...

I know many people who don't care for squirrels. I try to convince them that they should at least respect them for their resourcefulness.

Rafael said...

Last week in Prospect Park I saw a red tailed hawk sitting in a tree(next to the playground and band shell)eating what a I assume was a pidgeon. The kids were all very excited and ran over to watch it. The mothers seemed less then interested.

Rob J. said...

"The mothers seemed less then interested." Some New Yorkers are just so jaded ;-) said...

The redtails seem particularly interested in Methodist Hospital. I've got a nice view from my apartment, and I just saw a pair circling and taking turns to perch on an antenna. I doubt squirrels venture that high, but the hawks are probably after discarded human limbs and organs--now there's a comforting thought!

Rob J. said...

Somehow I find it unlikely that Methodist Hospital would keep discarded limbs and organs anywhere that a hawk would see them. More likely they're going after the flocks of pigeons that roost on the roof. Also, keep an eye out for them carrying nest material. It wouldn't be the first time a Red-tailed Hawk in NYC nested on a building.

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