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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hawk Triplets Update

I made a late afternoon run up to Prospect Park to look for Nelly and Max's triplets.

I pedaled across the Long Meadow and headed towards the hawk nest. At the north-west corner of Nelly's Lawn, below the massive Tuliptree, two Urban Park Rangers were staring up in the direction of the hawk's favorite perch. I hopped off my bike and asked if they were looking at all three of the fledglings in the tree. They weren't sure if both of the birds they were watching were juveniles. They weren't. Nelly was perched at the end of a large, broken off branch. A few feet to her left was one of the young red-tails. Her offspring was reclining on the branch in an odd, horizontal position. Her relaxed posture reminded me more of a Common Nighthawk than a true hawk. I scanned the Tuliptree from various positions trying to find the other two fledglings within the dense foliage. I could not find them. There were several robins making distress calls across the road in the woods of Sullivan Hill, so, after circling Nelly's Lawn and calling for the young hawks at the "Aralia Grove", I headed across the road.

Behind Sullivan Hill there is a natural depression that lies between the footpath and East Park Drive. Overshadowed by a few mature oaks, the understory is dense with various shrubs, Goutweed, knotweed and other wildflowers and grasses. It is a favorite hunting spot for the local hawks. I wasn't surprised to find several robins calling non-stop. It took me a few minutes of searching to finally locate one of the fledgling hawks. He was perched fairly low in the trees, sitting motionless in the late-day, dappled sunlight. I was taking some photos when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one of his nest mates to my right. The first hawk was quiet and patient. The second hawk must have been very hungry as he called frequently and flew short distances from tree to tree. I walked to the road to take his photo, but he squealed and flew directly to the Tuliptree.

Both adult Red-tailed Hawks had just circled above Nelly's Lawn prompting two of their three offspring to fly to the favorite perch, hoping for a handout. They didn't get one, at least, not right away.

A group of family and friends had gathered at Nelly's Lawn for a picnic. They had set up their blankets directly below the hawk perch in the Tuliptree. Between the two juvenile hawks calling for food and the children squealing at play it was difficult to tell the two species sounds apart. When Nelly arrived at the perch with a freshly killed young oriole, the squealing only got louder ... both by the hawks and the group of children who wanted to run after the hawks who just took off towards the Vale of Cashmere, fighting over the free meal. Both hawks ended up circling back to the Tuliptree where the meal was not shared. One could merely watch as his sibling devoured the small bird.

One non-hawk related observation was of a Ring-necked Duck. This bird species should have left the NYC area months ago, heading to their northern breeding grounds. For some unknown reason (or reasons) a single individual has remained in Prospect Park on the Upper Pool.

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