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Friday, June 13, 2008

Prospect Park update

My experience at the Green-Wood Cemetery nest had made me nervous about the nesting hawks in Prospect Park. The last few times I went to check on the nest, I only saw one nestling. It made me a little unsettled, so I was determine to find out the status of Alice and Ralph's offspring. Over this past week I spend every bit of free time I had to monitor the nest in the Ravine.

May's frenetic flight of migrating songbirds has been replaced by other winged creatures. A sudden diversity of butterflies and dragonflies are now flying through the park's woodlands, meadows and around the waterways. I did, however, stumble on two latecomers in the park this week. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was calling for a mate in the narrow stretch of woods next to the picnic house and a Northern Parula was singing from a perch above the stream in the Ravine. Hopefully, they'll catch up with the others, but it's likely too late for them to claim a territory and breed.

Views of the Red-tailed Hawk nest are limited to one or two very narrow openings in the canopy. All are on the sunny side of the nest. Adding to my problem was a five day stretch of over 90 degree temperatures. During those days, Alice would stoically sit at the edge of the nest with her wings outstretched, shading her brood. On Tuesday, I began to see stirrings at the east edge of the nest. Unfortunately, that is the side where a large branch obscures ones view. At that point, I had never seen more than one large nestling at a time moving around on the nest. I was concerned that, perhaps, one had died.

Wednesday I decided that I would monitor the nest all afternoon. It was important to me to see if both young Red-tailed Hawks were still in the Prospect Park nest. After two hours I had my answer. Both young raptors looked healthy and are quickly approaching their maiden voyage.

One hawk was hop-flapping for a few minutes before retiring to the right corner of the nest. Viewed through a screen of small branches and pine needles, she appeared to be preening. For a change, Alice wasn't watching them from within the nest. When she arrived with food at 3:58PM with food, her second chick waddled into view from the north side of the nest. The red-tails look close in age, with one having a bit more downy feathers on the side of the head.

On Monday I will visit both the Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park nests. Marge reported to me that the two eyasses in the cemetery were doing quite a bit of climbing yesterday. At one point, she thought the larger of the two had fledged, but it turned out that she had just climbed a few feet above the nest and was hidden by leaves.

Below is a short video of the nest in Prospect Park.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

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