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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Then there were three

I just received the following e-mail from Alex Wilson. His discovery in Prospect Park has some interesting implications.

From: Alex
Date: April 12, 2007 2:43:02 PM EDT

[ ... ] On another note, I thought you might be interested in some Red-tail doings I observed yesterday afternoon in the north end of the park. I watched a pair of immature hawks involved in what appeared to be nest-building behavior. The location is a pine (Austrian, I think) on the east edge of the [drive] [ ... ]. The “nest” tree is bare most of the way up, with only a brief, flat crown. I’ve seen hawks regularly in the vicinity, but this time, from the Vale, I noticed one carrying something flying into the tree, followed shortly by another. I walked up the stairs from the Vale and found a Red-tail with barred tail perched just beneath the crown of the tree. Then I realized there was another bird fussing around deeper within the foliage. I couldn’t see it well, but at one point it was definitely pulling bark or twigs. The first hawk flew out and perched in the pine grove across the drive, while the second bird continued its activities. It finally pulled off a fair sized twig, flew out of the tree, made a small circle and returned to the same spot, where it deposited the twig. I noted it was also an “immature” bird. Over the course of about an hour I watched the birds fly in and out a couple of time, at one point soaring over the meadow together, perching on a large apartment building on PP West, and doing a tumble where they almost clasped talons. Each time they returned to the same tree.

I’m not altogether sure what to make of this. There was no large mass in the tree, so maybe they just started, perhaps having been displaced elsewhere, or maybe it’s juvenile learning behavior. I guess first time nesters often have difficulties, and maybe these birds are trying to figure it out. Maybe they couldn’t get started until the dominant locals were busy with their own nest? Maybe it’s a false alarm, but the birds certainly seemed to be a pair, and there’s only one reason to pile twigs in a tree. FWIW, the apparent female was rather pale in the face, and the interest in a pine suggests a possible relation to the Ravine birds. Anyway, it might be worth checking out.


I know that tall building very well. There are only two along Prospect Park West and one was a favorite perch for Big Mama and Split-tail. If it's the same pale-headed juvenile that I've seen in that vicinity for the last year, I have some photos of her.

Pale-faced female near the Vale of Cashmere

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

1 comment:

Larry said...

The way you follow the Red-tailed Hawks around is interesting.
Maybe I will try following the progression of a family of birds some time.

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