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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fordham Red-tailed Hawk update

There's a cold rain coming down this morning that's forecast to last all day. Wind gusting out of the east makes it feel like winter has returned for an encore performance. It's a good day to catch up on my writing.

Chris Lyons just sent me an update for the Red-tailed Hawks nesting in the Bronx. No sign of hatchlings, yet:

"Subject: Hawkeye and Rose still incubating at Fordham
Date: 4/21/06 3:07 PM

Today (4/21/06), I spent most of my lunch hour, gazing through binoculars at what looked for all the world like an unoccupied jumble of sticks jammed onto some pigeon wire, inside the pediment on top of Collins Hall. You really wouldn't think the nest was deep enough to hide a bird the size of a female Red-Tailed Hawk, but that it does, and thoroughly. At around 12:15pm, I saw what looked to be a bit of a stretch, and maybe a yawn into the bargain--the back and wings of a hawk appeared over the top of the nest for all of three seconds. Then nothing. Then at 12:30pm, an adult Red-Tail comes sailing in, bearing the butchered remains of what I believe was a small mammal--but I didn't get much of a look. It was Hawkeye, and he stood there by the nest until Rose got up--slowly, and a bit reluctantly, I thought--and flew off, without showing any interest in the food. Hawkeye stood there for almost a minute, as if uncertain what to do next--then he settled into the nest, and disappeared from sight. Except his head popped up a minute or so later, as if to make sure everything was okay. The shift change took about two minutes--longer than usual. Hawkeye was still there when I left. 12:30ish seems to be a semi-regular time for him to give Rose a break. Today he arrived about five minutes earlier than he did when I witnessed a similar exchange last week. Perhaps the position of the sun has some impact on when he shows up? 
I saw no indication the eggs had started hatching, but it did seem they were both anticipating--something. It's getting close, and they feel it. Only, of course, the big question remains unanswered. This being the second New York City Red-Tail nest we know of that was built on pigeon wire, and this being the first year they've used this spot, will the eggs hatch at all? Hard not to ponder that question, in the light of the saddening news from 927 Fifth Ave. I still don't know for a fact that Hawkeye and Rose are the same two birds that hatched out two young on a fire escape on Creston Ave in 2004, though I'm fairly sure they are. Regardless of whether I'm right, that was a different situation; the sticks being laid on top of a latticed iron platform, not a flat stone cornice festooned with metal spikes. Hard to generalize too much with so little data, and with this pair so far, every breeding season has been unique.
One thing I do know is that it's much too early to worry. I'm pretty sure Rose began regular incubation of her eggs around 4/25--not much sooner, or later. The last time I see the nest before I go on vacation will be next Tuesday, and I won't see it again until 5/3. Based on last year's observations, Rose definitely had hatched young by the first few days of May last year, though they weren't actually seen until 5/9. It's possible they're on a slightly earlier schedule this year--or it could be slightly later. If nothing has changed by the time I get back, then I'll start worrying. Right now, everything seems fine. If I see anything of interest before I go on my trip, I'll post another report. If not, see you next month."


Monica said...

Walking through the Botanic Gardens on Saturday late morning, I saw a redtail overhead with a very noticeable split tail. Curious if this is newsworthy ...

Monica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Donegal Browne said...

As a daily observer of the Central Park Red-tails, I'm particularly interested in whether or not there has been a hatch on Fordham's first year pigeon spike anchored nest. Any news yet???

Rob J. said...

Still no confirmation of hatching. I forwarded your longer question to Chris & Rich in the Bronx. I'll post their response this week.

Janet said...

nice articles. i hope we can exchange infos regarding on birds i really love birds.

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