Check out City Birder Tours, and Green-Wood sponsored tours on their calendar pages here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Migrants and Hawk Updates

I haven't posted much lately about the Spring migration or nesting hawk updates, primarily, because there hasn't been a lot of news to report. Here's a week wrap up of the local migration thus far, as well as, a Red-tailed Hawk update. UPDATED

There has been some bad news out of Manhattan concerning the borough's breeding Red-tailed Hawks. Three of their adult hawks have been found dead. I believe the cause in all cases has been rodenticide, that is, the hawks ate rats that had been poisoned. New York City Audubon Society has begun working with city agencies to address the problem. In Prospect Park, Nelly & Max have been incubating eggs for about 2 weeks now. I'm concerned about their annual use of the now dead Pine tree on Nelly's Lawn. Over successive breeding seasons their nest continues to grow and I'm afraid that the branch will eventually break from the weight. A living tree wouldn't be so brittle.

Prospect Park's second red-tailed pair, Alice & Ralph, have vanished. I've been searching for a possible new nest location, but have been unsuccessful. In Green-Wood Cemetery, Big Mama & Junior are typically the last pair to begin incubating eggs. It is getting very late in the season and there's no sign of Big Mama on the nest. Marge and I have only seen Junior in the vicinity of the nest, so I'm afraid that something may have happened to her.

UPDATE Marge called me last night with good news. She had been staking out Junior's perch on the Bishop Ford High School radio tower for about 45 minutes. When he finally took off, she spotted him flying into a cedar tree on the "Hill of Graves". This is the tree where the pair had nested back in 2007, and only about 100 yards from their nest tree of the subsequent 4 years. Anyway, as Marge scanned the cedar tree she found Big Mama quietly sitting on eggs in a new nest.

While searching for Alice & Ralph I came across this Bloodroot wildflower in Prospect Park's woodlands. I'd never noticed them before and perhaps Prospect Park's Landscape Management Office has just begun planting them. Coincidentally, that day I received in the mail "A Native Plants Reader" from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On the cover was a photograph of Bloodroot flowers. According to the book, populations of Bloodroot have become rare around NYC. I am not sure if it was due to a sudden drop in temperature, or just the ephemeral nature of this lovely wildflower, but within a week this white exclamation point dotting Prospect Park's forest had all but vanished. Sometimes it is just a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time. Who knows, maybe they've been blooming in the woods every year and I've just missed them.

Between Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery, over the last week I've seen a marked increase in the number of Eastern Phoebes. Pine Warblers continue to be seen (and heard) although not in any great numbers. Last Saturday Heydi and I spotted our first Palm Warbler of the season. It was foraging for insects in the grass below Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery. Another nice seasonal sighting at the cemetery was of a Great Egret. These large wading birds have been reported throughout the city over the past week. One usually ends up sticking around Green-Wood until the Fall migration. There are, apparently, plenty of koi in the ponds for a large egret to feast on. I watched one on Wednesday slowly circling Crescent Water, stopping every few minutes to snatch a finger-sized fish from the water. Probably the only bird powerful enough to take the oversized, grandparents of those fries would be an Osprey, which, by the way, have also now appeared all around Brooklyn.

Another new winged Spring arrival this week was my first Black Swallowtail. I spotted this tattered butterfly on Wednesday as it fed on dandelion nectar.

Finally, here's a short slideshow of Callery Pear, cherry, Flowering Quince, forsythia, magnolia and squill from over the past week:


Date: Mar 21, 2012 - Mar 30, 2012
Locations: Green-Wood Cemetery, Prospect Park
Species: 48

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Monk Parakeet
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Brown Creeper
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow


Gavin Fraser said...

Maybe you are aware of this nest but there is a red-tail nest in Prospect Park near the 10th Ave pedestrian entrance at the top of a pine. I believe I saw a chick in there last week, the hawks were building this nest about two months ago.

Rob Jett said...

WOW! I was not. I assume then that this is where Alice and Ralph relocated to, as they've always preferred pine trees. Thanks, I'll check it out this week.

Rob Jett said...

Couldn't locate the 10th Ave nest. Could you give detailed directions?

Gavin Fraser said...

yes the nest is hard to spot and I could have been more precise. From what I hear this has been a roost for them (or others) in years past? The nest in in a tall pine at the very top, the tree is split into a "V" right from the base and shoots up with two trunks. It is located inside the loop kind of half-way between the 10th Ave pathway traffic light and the horse riding area, by the ballfields. I put a map below, it's about where the arrow points.

One note of concern: I am in the park every morning for about 10 years with my dog, and was spotting these hawks (maybe Alice/Ralph) consistently all January and February, when I saw them adding to this roost with sticks and such. I thought I saw movement in the nest a few days back, but it is very well concealed and I can't be sure. But one thing is for sure, I have not seen the adult hawks in weeks, not by the nest or anywhere. So I'm a little concerned myself.

Thanks and keep me posted!

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope