Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Red-tailed Hawk Journals

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

Thursday, 9 May, 2002

I've been observing the Prospect Park westside Red-tailed Hawks since February but it took a call from my friend Steve Nanz to point out the obvious. The nest has a low point on its north side so if one walks down to the bottom of the hill below the "dining tree" you end up with a great view into the nest. From 12pm until about 2:30pm I had wonderful looks at two white, fuzzy-headed hawk chicks.

The female mostly just sat around the nest but left on two occasions and returned with, what appeared to be, pine boughs for the base of the nest. When she left the nest the chicks always kept their heads down and remained out of sight.

I chuckled out loud while she was preening as every time she opened her mouth to straighten her plumes the larger of the chicks would instinctively pop open its mouth exposing its pink interior.

For over two hours the chicks went without food. At 2:30pm mama hawk began pulling small pieces of red meat off of something stored in the bottom of the nest. From the new vantage point I could see the mother alternating feeding one and then the other as they patiently held their mouths open. Small, white and wobbly they have imposing bills that almost look out of place on their spiky, little heads.

There continues to be a nice mix of songbirds moving through the nest area and, at one point, while looking through the scope I spotted a parula foraging less than a foot away from the feeding hawk. Muted colors and huge versus vibrant and diminutive; while the image seemed to hang at the top of the Linden Tree for minutes it was probably just a speck of time.

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