Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are the Hawks Following Me?

Sometimes it seems like everywhere I go, there's a Red-tailed Hawk either perched nearby or one flying over my head. Maybe there are just a lot more of them around, or perhaps I'm more cognizant of them, but at times it sure seems weird. Take, for example, last night.

Angus Wilson was giving a presentation on watching seabirds and cetaceans around New York. It was being hosted by the Queens County Bird Club at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Queens. It's not an easy location to get to via public transportation, but Shane offered to give me a lift from the end of the "F" train line at Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing. Main Street is a bustling commercial area that I hadn't visited in decades. I grew up in Queens and Main Street was a major shopping destination. Suffice to say that it is the antithesis of, say, Forest Park. I felt strangely intimidated by crowded sidewalks and bumper to bumper street traffic.

After fighting my way through crowds of commuters competing to enter or leave the subway station's way too narrow stairway, I stood on the corner of Main and Roosevelt, trying to orient myself. I attempted to stand behind a crosswalk signal's support pole and use it as a block against a constant flow of pedestrians. Heydi was meeting us there, as well, and I called her to find out where we would meet Shane. When I hung up the phone, I glanced across the street at a Duane Reade drugstore. A Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the corner of the roof. A moment later, it took off flying south along Main Street. Heydi walked up to me as I was watching the hawk and I quickly pointed it out before it disappeared behind Caldors. We both laughed.

I thought that it was an unlikely neighborhood to find a red-tail until I looked at a satellite image of the area. Main Street is very close to Flushing Meadow Park, but more important, only about a mile from the Unisphere. It is within the steel girders of this remnant sculpture from the 1964 World's Fair that a pair of Red-tailed Hawks have successfully raised young for a few years. As unusual as it was to see hawks on Main Street, I supposed that even they have to make an occasional shopping trip for groceries.

1 comment:

Queens Raptors said...

Hey Rob,

I've watched the Unisphere nest for the past two years, and the pair do often hunt around Main Street from Roosevelt Avenue to Maple Avenue. The Queens Botanical Garden is also only about 1/4 mile from where you were, and they occasionally hunt there as well.

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