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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Visit to Green-Wood Hawks

A quick search of Green-Wood Cemetery turned up the two young Red-tailed Hawks hanging around near Ocean Hill.

Marge had driven around looking in the usual spots a couple of days earlier, but wasn't able to find the two fledgling Red-tailed Hawks. I had a couple of hours the other day and the two of us went in search of the young raptors.

The goslings at Sylvan Water are now indistinguishable from the adult Canada Geese. Red-eyed Vireo can be heard calling from just about any wooded area in the cemetery. Barn Swallows and Chimney Swifts can be seen skimming the surface of the ponds to drink and cool off. I found a bee hive living in an old, iron Victorian fence post at the Dell Water. Not sure if they are European Honey Bees, but they are the most common species.

We ran into Tommy, one of the security guards, and he told us that the two young hawks were hanging around near the base of Ocean Hill. The hill is part of the high ridge formation that runs through Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park. It only took a couple of seconds to locate one of the hawks as she flew towards the top of the ridge. A few minutes later we found her sibling.

The two birds looked strong and healthy, although they still haven't completely mastered the art of hunting and cried frequently for their parents to bring food. As they flew from pine tree to pine tree, I realized that they also haven't attempted any soaring or high flying. When one of the adult hawks flew overhead, they merely called and made feeble attempts to follow. At one point, the smaller of the two red-tails began stalking, then attacking, a branch that was lying at the base of a pine tree. I've seen this behavior frequently in the past and assume that this form of play is critical hunt training. He grabbed the piece of rotted wood and flew low across the road, perching on a horizontal monument. A car drove slowly passed the large raptor, but the driver didn't seem to notice the two foot tall bird just below the driver-side window.

It was interesting to see how the two young hawks are still spending a lot of time together. I think that these local birds will spend nearly a year associating with each other. Perhaps they don't begin to spread out until they feel the urge to establish their own territory, find a mate, then begin the breeding cycle somewhere else in NYC.

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