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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Green-Wood Cemetery & other hawk updates

Linden flower

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Green-Wood's first flyer

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

One of the Green-Wood Cemetery young red-tails fledged today. I received an excited, frenzied call from Marge telling me to get over to the cemetery. I had to finish some thing before running out, but got there as quickly as possible.

Apparently, Joe and Marge were in the cemetery leading a trip for a group of birders from the Chenango Bird Club. When they took the group to the hawk nest where they noticed that one of Big Mama’s offspring was missing. They eventually found that the older of the two eyass had flown the short distance to the pair of London plane trees adjacent to their nest tree - not a great distance, but it was a start. They described what sounded like an inelegant high-wire act with the young hawk nearly falling from the tree and using his bill to hang on. They continued with their tour and returned after the group departed. Back at the nest, they found that he was no longer in either of the London plane tree or the nest. After a couple of minutes they spotted him in the cedar tree opposite the nest, where Big Mama would perch to monitor them. That's a flight of about 70 yards.

By the time I arrived at the cemetery, Green-Wood's first flyer had returned to the nest tree, where he remained until I left. The younger bird appears to be only one day behind his nest mate. There were times when a gust would roll up the hill and the younger bird would assume a take-off posture, catching the wind in his now massive wings. His maiden voyage will probably be Wednesday.

Almost ready (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

At one point, while I was watching the nest, Junior flew in carrying a long branch. I’m not sure if it was for repairing the soon to be empty nest or as a toy for his kids. The young hawks assumed it was for the latter and played tug-o-war for a few minutes, but got bored quickly and dropped it. Marge mentioned that he brought them another mockingbird for lunch and they feed themselves. Gray and white feathers had blown everywhere, I even found some on the roadway when I arrived.

Junior and kids (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Tasty (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

A late day visit to the Prospect Park nest still found at least one eyass still on the nest. Trees have continued to leaf out and, within the next few days, I doubt that I’ll be able to see much in the trees near the Ravine nest.

After visiting the hawk nest I went to the north end of the Long Meadow to look for an Orchard Oriole nest that was reported. I didn’t find the nest but did see the two juvenile Red-tailed Hawk at the northwest side of the park. A strong wind was blowing up the slope from the harbor and the two birds were kiting in the constant updraft. They looked as if they were playing a game above the roof of a building on President Street and Prospect Park West. The roof is broken up in to several raised, rectangular sections. One of the taller sections is edged by a railing on which that the hawks alternated turns perching. Like riding a roller coaster, one bird would kite above the railing, then descend toward the other, who would lift off and the two would switch places. They did this 4 or 5 times before they took off together, riding the wind above the row of tall buildings on Prospect Park West between President and Garfield Streets. In more wild environments it would probably be considered ridge-riding. Despite their young age, the pair has appeared to have already bonded and I expect that they will breed next season.

Things are also moving right along with the three Fordham eyasses. Here’s an update from Chris:

Date: June 5, 2007 5:53:36 PM EDT
Subject: Fordham eyasses should start fledging any day now

The Fordham gang (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

Every time I go to check on the nest, I expect to find that one of the young hawks has flown the coop--but unless I go up on the roof of Dealy Hall, I usually can't say for sure if they're all there, because it's rare that I can see all three of them from the ground. On Monday, I got photos of all three--two had shed all their head-fluff, one still had a tuft sticking up, though that was the one who looked most like he (or she) could jump off the ledge at any moment. I toyed with the idea of naming this eyass "Alfalfa"--or possibly "Eraserhead"--but it didn't seem to be a good idea, given that the downy head-tuft would be gone in another day or two.

New 'do (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

Today (Tuesday), I once again was unable to tell how many chicks were still up there from the ground, so I went up on top of Dealy. All three were still there. One of the adults was flying just a short distance from me, and clearly had prey in its talons. Turned out to be Hawkeye, and the prey, best as I could tell, was a young bird, probably snatched from a nest. Hawkeye landed on the cross on top of the Fordham Administrative Building (one of the oldest structures on the campus, actually pre-dating the founding of the seminary that eventually became Fordham University)--after several false starts, he landed briefly on the Collins Hall pediment, and dropped off the food. He left pretty quickly, and one of the young took possession. No need for anyone to tear up the prey for them anymore.

Last year, the first fledging was on June 8th, in the early evening. I was very lucky to be there to witness it happening. My chances of being that lucky again are not great, but I'll keep checking.

Hawkeye watching the brood (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

In another part of Brooklyn was the following observation from Doug Gochfeld, as well as, a follow-up on his tip by Bruce:

Date: June 4, 2007 5:37:38 PM EDT

I know you're always on the alert for more red-tailed nests. I was playing softball in McCarren Park out near Greenpoint on the Brooklyn-Queens border and there was a red-tail frequenting the park the entire day, and for the second half spent a good deal of it's time in view being mobbed very aggressively and loudly by a Kestrel, so I would say it's a good bet that both are nesting in the immediate area.

Bruce went out to McCarren Park and took these photos of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk:

McCarren Park juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - D. Bruce Yolton)

Finally, here’s a troubling note that Chris received from a rehabilitator who works with injured Red-tailed Hawks. It is regarding a nest in Queens that we weren’t aware of:

From: Robert Horvath
Date: Jun 5, 2007 10:31 PM
Subject: Queens fledgling

Just letting you know I got numerous calls the past 2 days about a fully feathered but non flying fledgling out of the Flushing Meadow Park Unisphere in Queens so I guess that’s another successful nest. I tried telling people to leave it alone as the parents were right there. It has been sitting on 2 different benches nearby and NYPD and parks people were watching it as well as hundreds of other park visitors . A worker I know from the Queens Zoo put it up as high as he could in a tree eliminating the temptation of somebody taking it away. If it looks like its going to disappear in the hands of somebody it shouldn't be in then I'd recommend intervening but the best place is usually with its parents unless circumstances would say different. I’ll let you know if anything else comes of it.

You can see more photos and read about other city hawk happenings on D. Bruce Yolton's website and Lincoln Karim's website.


rbs said...

One of the pix of the McCarren Park red-tail seems to indicate it's a juvenile, so it's a little questionable as to whether it's "nesting".

There were pix posted to Flickr over the winter of a juvenile red-tail in McGolrick Park, about 1/3 mile from McCarren. Possibly the same bird? Hard to say.

Rob J. said...

You are absolutely right. I just pasted in Doug's comments and didn't follow-up, clarifying that very point. Also, I was looking at the map and noticed McGolrick's Park was likely a better location for a red-tail, but hey, what do we know? I wouldn't have guessed the Unisphere was a desirable spot either.

Thanks for your comment.

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