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Monday, February 23, 2009

Nesting Updates

The first day of Spring is a month away, but some of the city's Red-tailed Hawks have already begun a new cycle.

I just received the following from D. Bruce Yolton regarding some Manhattan Red-tailed Hawks:

Date: February 22, 2009
Subject: 79th Street Riverside Hawk Pair Build New Nest at 94th Street

Great News.

A birdwatcher, Nina Wolf emailed me the new location of the Riverside Hawk pair's nest. It is between the 95th Street exit ramp and the highway, between 93rd and 94th. On the ramp is an "Exit 20 MPH sign". The nest is west and a little south of the sign. It looks like a large squirrel's nest but the hawks have been working on it each morning.

Lots of photographs on
my blog.

Let's hope this year is better for these hawks. For those with contacts in the neighborhood and the park, let's see if we can check on the possible use of 2nd Generation rat poisons in the park, at the Hudson Riverwalk construction site, and along buildings nearby. It would be great if these could be replaced with other rat poisons or electrocution traps.

The Inwood Hill pair started brooding yesterday, so hawk breading season has begun in Manhattan! To a better 2009, than 2008.

On Sunday, I cut through the park on my way to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. I've been very curious about the hawks building the nest at Nelly's Lawn, but haven't been able to determine if they are Ralph and Alice relocating or a new pair. Sunday wasn't helpful as I didn't see activity at either nest. I did see a huge Cooper's Hawk at the gardens and a possible owl roost near the Japanese Garden. A few week back, when looking for crossbills, I noticed a lot of whitewash beneath a pine along the celebrity path. On Sunday, there was much more, but I couldn't see any owls in the tree. Maybe it's a nighttime roost.

Yesterday I went into the park again at the end of the day. Still no activity at either hawk nests. When I was walking out of the park at 5th Street, I spotted Ralph kiting over the buildings that border Prospect Park West. The wind was gusting really hard, right up the slope towards the park. Ralph had his wings pulled in close to his body, forming an "M" shape. It must have been difficult and I wondered why he was doing it, most birds were hunkered down in that kind of wind. A gentleman walking passed saw me looking up into the sky and said, "It's over there" and pointed behind me. Alice was circling above the Litchfield Villa. Was Ralph just performing for her? After a minute or two, he turned around and joined his mate above the villa, then both took off into the park's interior.

I had about an hour this afternoon to check on the nests again. Starting in the Ravine, I'd focus my scope at that nest for 30 minutes, then move on to the Nelly's Lawn nest for the rest of my lunch break.

Alice and Ralph never showed up at the nest that they've used for 6 consecutive years. When I was getting ready to leave, I spotted them flying off of Payne Hill and out over the Long Meadow. They circled each other over the Ravine woods for about 3 minutes. Ralph would climb high above his mate then descend with his legs down, as if he were about to land on her back, then veer off at the last second. At one point, he got close enough to lightly brush the top of Alice's tail feathers with his talons.

At Nelly's Lawn I arrived just in time to see two hawks flying into the pine tree at the east edge of the meadow. I haven't found the best vantage point, yet, but the tree is right out in the open. The two raptors worked on the nest together, then one flew off towards the botanic gardens. A few minutes later the other hawk flew to a perch in the Tuliptree that overlooksthe meadow. The bird seemed broad across the breast, pale headed with very dark eyes. When the second bird returned, I learned quickly who was who. The returning hawk was smaller, very dark headed and had light brown eyes. Shortly after his return, he mounted the pale-headed female! So, bottom line, there are definitely two pairs of Red-tailed Hawks in Prospect Park. I tried to take some identification photos of the Nelly's Lawn pair, but the strong wind was shaking the heck out of my tripod. Forgive the crappy quality, but you get the idea.

My friend Marge has been keeping an eye on things in Green-Wood Cemetery, but has no news, yet, about Big Mama and Junior's progress.

Another interesting sighting this afternoon was of a Turkey Vulture. I was walking over the Boulder Bridge and spotted a huge shadow moving along the ground. The vulture was soaring just about the treetops, heading north.


Marie said...

Stunning hellebore pic. I missed those on my visit recently...

daniel said...

hey nice meeting you in the park yesterday -- thanks for ID'ing my Coopers Hawk photo.


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