Saturday, March 26, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk Updates

Our three pairs of Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawks have all laid eggs and are now sitting on their respective nests. There has also been an interesting development in Prospect Park which could make life for our urban wildlife even more stressful than normal.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, "Big Mama", our Green-Wood Cemetery red-tail, was the first of our Brooklyn hawks to commence incubating eggs. Some time this week (not sure because I was away) Alice sat down on her nest of 9 years in Prospect Park's "Ravine". This is the most difficult of the nests to monitor due to a lack of clear vantage points. I was able to take one terrible photograph where you can see her head peering over the edge of the nest.

I was concerned about Nelly and Max reusing their nest in the Japanese Black Pine at the east edge of Nelly's Lawn. The tree died over the winter leaving nothing more than a brittle shell that offers little or no protection from the elements. I guess the red-tails weren't as worried as me because Nelly was sitting on the nest yesterday. At Floyd Bennett Field most of the black pines there have died in an area called "Ecology Village" and I've noticed that the branches snap off with very little effort. I hope that the weight of the nest at Nelly's Lawn isn't too much for the supporting branches.

I received a text message from Peter yesterday. The landscape crew was working on installing cribbing to control erosion on the steep ridge of Breeze Hill adjacent to the skating rink. One of the people in the crew spotted a Red-tailed Hawk carrying a stick into the hollow of a dead London Planetree. Since all of our resident hawks are currently sitting on nests, this is a new breeding pair! The tree is in an area that is undergoing a major capital project. The Wollman Skating Rink complex is being demolished to make room for a new rink. The adjacent "Concert Grove" is now fenced off and the tree is behind the fencing. One unusual aspect of the nest is its placement. All of the Red-tailed Hawk nests that I've seen in New York City are positioned on top of a relatively flat surface, whether it is a tree or a window ledge. The nest that is being constructed by this new hawk in within a hollow of a dead tree - a location that I would associate more with nesting Great Horned Owls. If this pair of hawks successfully hatch a family I have one big concern - room. Young red-tails need space to climb around and stretch out their wings. At one point they enter a stage referred to as "branching". You can see from the wider view photograph that there is virtually no place for a young hawk to branch. At this point, the female of this pair doesn't appear to have accepted this nest. It is fairly late in the season for Red-tailed Hawks to start planning for a family, but we will see and I'll keep you posted as events unfold.

3 comments:

Handcrafted said...

I came across a red tailed hawk today in prospect park eating a pigeon. I posted a short video at youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbdhngCwDc0

Bill said...

YESTERDAY A RED TAIL WAS HAVING A PIGEON FOR BREAKFAST ON MY TERRACE ON THE 12TH FLOOR AT 86TH AND SECOND.. FLEW OFF WITH THE CARCASS AND LEFT A PILE OF FEATHERS. LEN

Bill said...

I WONDER WHERE IN THE UPPER EAST SIDE IS THE NEST ?

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