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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Red-tailed Hawk Journals

Excerpt from "The Red-tailed Hawk Journals: A City Birder in Brooklyn":

Sunday, March 3, 2002

It doesn't appear that either the Prospect Park or the Green-Wood Cemetery Red-tailed Hawk pairs have laid eggs.

This morning at around 10am the Prospect pair left the vicinity of the nest to hunt. I spotted one of them at around 10:30 sitting on top of a baseball backstop on the Long Meadow. Despite three crows determined to drive him off he just sat calmly and ate a small, unidentifiable animal.

I am not very optimistic about the park pair for a couple of reasons. The exposed location of the nest and its rather flimsy construction seem an unlikely combination for success. Perhaps they are young birds and this is their first attempt at nesting.

In Green-Wood Cemetery the more typically located and more substantially built nest was unoccupied. Both birds, however, were hunting in the area. Based on Janet Schumacher's observations yesterday, I presume that the female just hasn't laid any eggs yet.

While at Green-Wood I also checked in on the Red-headed Woodpecker. When I first arrived at the stand of trees on Mulberry Avenue it was extremely quiet. Aside from the distant "chi, chi, chi" of a Red-bellied Woodpecker the area seemed desolate. I sat down and waited. After about 15 minutes a very large, immature Sharp-shinned Hawk flew out of the oaks in front of me and down the hill. Ah ha! A few minutes later the birds began returning to the area.

The Red-headed Woodpecker flew into a tree nearby and looked around nervously as it probed a rotted branch. A juvenile bird, I was surprised to see how extensive its red plumage has become. Its throat, chin, crown and nape are now solid red with only a little brown left around the eyes and cheeks. It's a beautiful and very vocal bird.

As I walked back down Battle Avenue I watched a swirling flock of pigeons off in the distance suddenly scatter as a stooping Peregrine Falcon plummeted through the center of the birds.

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