Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawk Update

It has been a while since I've posted any updates on our local Red-tailed Hawk pairs. Sometimes the revolving seasonal bird activity distracts me from the one species that got me started in birdwatching. Perhaps it is because what seemed unusual to me over 20 years ago has become common place. Barely a day passes that I don't notice at least one Red-tailed Hawk around Brooklyn or NYC's other boroughs. As my knowledge of and interests in other family of birds evolves, I still enjoy periodically going back and tracking down Brooklyn's hawks.

There are three nesting pairs in and around Prospect Park and a possible fourth pair at Fort Greene Park. A pair at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been using a pine tree that borders the Brooklyn Museum parking lot for their nest for a third year. I am guessing that this is the pair named "Nelly" and "Max" who used to nest in a Japanese Black Pine at the edge of Nelly's Lawn in Prospect Park. Nelly and Max stopped using the nest in Prospect Park at the same time the pair showed up across Flatbush Avenue at the botanic garden.

"Junior" the long time mate of the late "Big Mama" appears to have moved on. He has taken a new mate and the pair has settled on a nest site in a pine tree on "The Flats" of Green-Wood Cemetery. The nest tree is only about 600 yards south-west of Junior and Big Mama's final nest. That was also a pine tree, but sustained major damage from one of this past winter's storms. As of last weekend, the hawks didn't appear to be incubating eggs yet. The nest is at the very top of the tree and not easy to see. If I find a good viewing vantage point I'll post directions here.

My friend Steve called me on Saturday morning to tell me about a large nest he found in Prospect Park. I was aware that a pair of Red-tailed Hawks had been nesting somewhere in a stand of pines at the south end of the baseball fields a couple of years ago, but had no luck confirming the location. Like Junior's nest in Green-Wood, this nest is near the top of a conifer and very difficult to see. Through Steve's scope, however, we could see that there is a red-tailed sitting on eggs.

So, who is this pair? An educated guess would be Alice and Ralph. In 2012 they were unceremoniously evicted from their pine tree nest site of 9 years in the Ravine by a pair of owls. Shortly thereafter I began receiving notes about a pair of red-tails building a nest at the south end of the baseball fields.

If you live near and/or bird around Fort Greene Park let me know if you spot any Red-tailed Hawks nesting in that park. I'll be sure to come by and check it out. To learn about the hawks in Manhattan, check out Bruce Yolton's "Urban Hawks" blog and James O'Brien's "The Origin of Species" blog.

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