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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

More Red-tailed Updates

I spent a lot of time watching the Prospect Park Red-tailed Hawk nest between Saturday and Monday. On Saturday I rode over to the cemetery and checked on the pair at that nest, as well.

"Elizabeth's Tuliptree", at the northwest edge of Nelly's Lawn, is perfectly situated for the adult Red-tailed Hawks to perch and keep tabs on their nestlings turned branchers. When I arrived on the meadow Saturday morning, I didn't see any movement in the nest, but there were a lot of robins making alert calls from the woods to the south of the nest, as well as, to the north, near the Vale of Cashmere. I thought the youngsters might have taken their maiden flights and were perched in those locations. After a few minutes Nelly flew from a spot near Battle Pass and landed in the tuliptree. Max had already been in the tree, I just hadn't noticed him. Shortly after, three overstuffed red-tailed youngsters began to appear in the nest. They hadn't actually flown, but were just taking a nap. When their parents took off flying towards Sullivan Hill, I followed. Nelly was perched above an overgrown depression in the woods and was being bombed by a Baltimore Oriole. Despite repeated strikes by the bright orange and black songbird, she remained steadfast. Max appeared with a small rodent and the two flew back to Nelly's Lawn. The male hawk dropped off the parcel with the youngsters, then both parents went in search of more food.

About 15 minutes later, Nelly returned to the nest with a meal and did something that surprised me. Instead of just dropping the food and leaving, she stayed and fed the youngest of the trio. They are all fully developed and capable of feeding themselves, so I wonder if it was just her way of assuring that the little one got his fair share. Red-tailed Hawk nest mates are very competitive, so I think this new mother made a wise decision to stick around and help fatten up the "baby".

At Green-Wood Cemetery there wasn't much activity during the short time that I monitored the nest. Both hawks are very large, but one seems to be branching more than the other.

On Monday, I spent a few hours monitoring Prospect Park's nest. For most of the morning, it was like watching paint dry. Nelly and Max remained perched in Elizabeth's Tuliptree; Max on a low branch facing south and Nelly near the top of the tree facing north. The youngest nestling stood at the edge of the nest facing me. Whenever I'd walk beneath the nest he'd twist his head upside down, as if he couldn't make heads or tails of this strange creature. There was little to no wind and, after two hours, there wasn't any flap-hopping from the trio, either. In fact, they seemed more interested in just sleeping.

My friend Heydi went back later in the afternoon when the three young hawks were more active. I'm not sure if any of them fledged today, but I doubt that they took off in this morning's thunderstorms.

Yesterday, Marge called to say that the larger of the two Green-Wood Cemetery youngsters had climbed way up in the branches above the nest, nearly to the top of the tree. I had an early appointment today, so was unable to check on either nest. Marge reported today that, as of noon, they were still in the nest.
I was able to rearrange my Wednesday work schedule a bit, so will go check on both Brooklyn nests in the morning.

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