Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Prospect's Red-tails Exploring

I went into Prospect Park on Monday morning, looking for the three juvenile Red-tails from Nelly's Lawn. It didn't take me very long to locate them.

Since their fledging, the trio of young Red-tailed Hawks has been primarily hanging around the edges of Nelly's Lawn, Elizabeth's Tuliptree at the northwest corner of the lawn (and beneath it) and the small wooded area across the road at Sullivan Hill. It's a small territory just across Flatbush Avenue from the Brookyn Botanic Garden. I expect that, at some point, they will probably follow their parents over to the garden.

I was walking across the Long Meadow from the 3rd Street playground towards Nelly's Lawn when I began to hear alert calls from several robins. The noise was centered around a large Linden Tree near the north section of the Long Meadow, about 250 yards west of the nest tree. Two women were sitting on a blanket in the shade of the tree. They noticed me scanning the tree and asked, "Are you looking for the hawk?" I said "yes" and they pointed to the north side of the tree. For non-New York City readers, this is a fairly typical New Yorker reaction ... sure, there's a large bird of prey perched above me, what else is new. I walked over to the smallish hawk (probably a male) and, while talking to him in a low tone, snapped a few photos. The young hawk videotwisted his head from side to side, like a cat sizing up potential prey. I decided to try and entice him to fly to the ground for a close-up. In retrospect, it was probably not fair to the hawk, who is just learning how to hunt and didn't need my stupid distractions. I won't reveal what I did to draw his attention. I really don't want readers to get any silly ideas or bother our resident hawk.

He hopped around on the ground for a minute or two then took off flying, landing in a Black Walnut tree several yards to the west.

This was the farthest from the nest that I've observed any of the three fledglings, to date. After taking photos of the first bird, I went in search of the other two. One was still hanging around in Elizabeth's Tuliptree, hopping around on the favorite perch. It took me about 15 minutes to find the final youngster, who had made it to the northern edge of the Midwood. The dense foliage on the sweetgums and tuliptrees in that spot made it difficult to see, but several chirping calls eventually brought her out into the open. I haven't seen any of the three juvenile red-tails soaring or flying higher than treetop level but suspect they will surpass that hurdle very soon.

1 comment:

nick said...

saw two of these guys yesterday eve along the main road about 25-30 feet up a tree.

form a trapezoid with the three points on your map already and you'll hit the part I'm talking about with the fourth point.

One looked a little bit larger than the other and had a nice chunk of meat in his beak which he chewed for a bit then dropped; I'd guess rodent.

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