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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Prospect Park update and another pushpin on the map

False Garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

My wife and I went into Prospect Park to check on Alice and Ralph's nest. We were only there a few minutes when we spotted a patch of white fuzz moving around near the far side of the nest. He eventually popped up his small head. It was a brief showing as he seemed busy, either eating or preening, and kept his head down. The lighting was great but I was only able to take a few, partially obscured photos of him. By around 5:30PM I had stopped paying attention to the hawk nest and was leaning on a tree watching a catbird, who was in a tree watching us. My wife, who had continued monitoring the nest, suddenly exclaimed, "There's a second one!" Apparently, the nest at the top of the pine tree is much deeper than I thought and easily hid two chicks. We stayed another 30 minutes. I think, secretly, we were both hoping to see a third.

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I had assumed that this was a late brood for Alice and Ralph. Based on what, I can't be sure, maybe just poor memory or comparisons to recent images on other hawk-blogs ("hawgs"?). I have hawk photos taken during different periods of development, unfortunately the dates are somewhat erratic as I can only visit the nests when my schedule and the weather permits. I would love to see a series of Red-tailed Hawk photographs taken at specific intervals of time and from a biologist's perspective. It sure would make the process of estimating a nestling's age much easier.

Now that there are several New York City "hawgs" online, lots of data regarding our growing Red-tailed Hawk population is getting shared. It seems that each family may have their own breeding schedule. I doubt that there is huge disparity in those dates, possibly only 2 weeks in either direction. Nest location and food sources probably play a role in each pair's decision to begin the cycle.

The top photo, of the set below, was taken Saturday at the Ravine nest in Prospect Park. Below that is a really poor photo of one of Alice and Ralph's offspring taken on June 4, 2006. If my memory has even a shred of reliability remaining, I would say that in 9 days Alice and Ralph's offspring will look very similar to the 2006 image. As an example of another hatch schedule, the final image is of the Green-Wood Cemetery nest taken on 05/22.

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

In addition to that good news, I received the following from D. Bruce Yolton, who maintains the hawg, "Urban Hawks":

"Yesterday, Ben Cacace and I followed up on a report from Jules Corkery (via Marie Winn's blog) of a new Red-tailed Hawk nest in Astoria Park, on the Triborough Bridge. We can confirm that there are two eyasses at the site.

The nest is located on the southern side of the Astoria portion of the bridge. The nest is easily accessible via public transportation. The Astoria Park site is a short walk from the second to the last stop on the N/W line. Except for the stairs up and down the elevated line, it is a nice flat six block walk.

Take the N or W to the Astoria Blvd. stop, exit to Hoyt Avenue South and walk towards the river. At 21st Street is the entrance to Astoria Park, walk in and go to the middle of the tennis courts. Look over to the bridge and you'll see the nest on a drain pipe."

(Photo credit - D. Bruce Yolton)

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