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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Red-tailed Hawk Update

On Sunday I went to Green-Wood Cemetery and looked around for any possible Red-tailed Hawk nests. I didn't spot any nor did I see any of our local hawks involved in courtship behavior or carrying nest material. Today's trip, however, was a different story.

I was only about 20 minutes into the walk when I saw a red-tailed flying from Central Ridge, near the Pierrepont family, heading through the trees towards Valley Water. It appeared to be carrying something that I assumed was prey. When it landed on a ledge near the base of the chapel dome I was stunned to see a very substantial nest in place. This dark-faced hawk didn't look familiar, but without comparing photos (and sometimes even with) it's near impossible to tell if this is a new resident. Anyway, after the hawk added some material to the growing nest it flew up to the top of the chapel, no doubt to survey its kingdom.

After a few moments the red-tailed flew back in the direction of Central Ridge where it perched low over the roadway and directly above a small flock of seemingly fearless Canada Geese. This back and forth continued for a couple of minutes when I finally noticed another Red-tailed Hawk. It appeared to be a small male and had just caught something tiny. The raptor flew back over to the nest where it proceeded to eat the unidentified animal. Now here is where it gets a little unusual. This presumed mate to the earlier red-tailed was a "brown-tailed", that is to say, it was an immature hawk. It takes Red-tailed Hawks 2 years to attain their namesake red tail, so it is quite possible that this individual is just entering his second year and the female decided to take him as a mate. It wouldn't be the first time I've observed this happening. Back in 2004, the female from Prospect Park named "Big Mama" was mated with "Split-tail" until a young upstart we named "Junior" successfully challenged her partner of 2 years. That pair remained together until "Big Mama" died in 2013.

This should be a fun nest to watch as the steep hill on the east side of the chapel affords near eye-level viewing. On the other hand, I'm guessing that it will be a tad stressful for the resident colony of Monk Parakeets on the main entrance's steeple ... 200 yards away.


Location: Green-Wood Cemetery, Kings, US-NY
Date: Apr 1, 2015
Species: 33

Canada Goose
Wood Duck (2.)
Osprey (3.)
Red-tailed Hawk (3.)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher (1.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (5.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1.)
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (2.)
Monk Parakeet
Eastern Phoebe (7.)
Blue Jay
American Crow (2.)
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse (2.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (6.)
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Fox Sparrow (12.)
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle (4.)
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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