« May 2009 | Main | July 2009 »

Drying Out After The Rain

I went to Riverside Park after the rain on Tuesday evening.  It was wonderful to be the only one there for about 30 minutes.  It was like watching the parents in the winter.

I found the parents first.  They were together on the same street lamp, in the traffic island were last year's nest was located.  They spent time preening and drying of from the rain.

I then found the fledglings near the river about a block south of the nest.   A downy feather floating down from a tree gave them away.  After about fifteen minutes, the mother joined the kids and they looked like they were going to roost by the river tonight.


20090630RVRT01

20090630RVRT02

20090630RVRT03

20090630RVRT04

20090630RVRT05

20090630RVRT06

20090630RVRT07

20090630RVRT08

20090630RVRT09

20090630RVRT10


Sunny Monday At Riverside

We're finally having some nice weather.  The two fledglings seem to be enjoying it.  They were both very active this evening, as were the parents who were nearby.

The mother arrived with some food and eat part of it.   She then gave it to one of the fledglings, who was getting frustrated with eating in a tree, and came down to the bushes to eat.  It was a good idea, even if it was a little unsafe.


20090629RVRT01

20090629RVRT02

20090629RVRT03

20090629RVRT04

20090629RVRT05

20090629RVRT06

20090629RVRT07

20090629RVRT08

20090629RVRT09

20090629RVRT10

20090629RVRT11

20090629RVRT12

20090629RVRT13

20090629RVRT14

20090629RVRT15

20090629RVRT16

20090629RVRT17

20090629RVRT18


Eastern Screech-Owls

Tonight with Caroline's help, we got to see a rare summer glimpse of the Eastern Screech-Owl pair we had studied this winter and spring.  The pair, which has an older female and a young male, certainly seems to have bonded.  They engaged in head rubbing activity as part of their wake up activities this evening.

The pair was mobbed by American Robins, which allowed us to keep track of them after fly out.  As night fell, and the Robins went to sleep, we were able to watch one of the owls bathe.  Watching an Eastern Screech-Owl bathe is one of the hardest behaviors to observe, so all of us left the park with smiles on our faces.


20090628ESO01

20090628ESO02

20090628ESO03

20090628ESO05

20090628ESO06

20090628ESO07

20090628ESO08

20090628ESO09

20090628ESO10

20090628ESO11


Robins and Ground Exploration

Today both fledglings spent lots of time near a group of Robins near the Boat House Café.  Both ended up getting mobbed at some point.

Both birds also spent time on the ground.  The mother even dropped some food on the ground for one of the fledglings to eat.  The youngsters played with sticks, explored the bushes and had a few play fights.  The "action" was great fun to watch, although on a few occasions the birds ended up a little too close to the exit ramp of the highway making us a little nervous.

There were a few moments when passers by or hawk watchers would get too close to the fledglings, and today almost everyone was happy to take a few steps backwards to give the birds some breathing room.  It was nice to see New Yorkers, after an explanation of how concerned we were that the birds not be "pushed" up to the highway, stay on the paths and kept their distance.


20090628RVRT01

20090628RVRT02

20090628RVRT03

20090628RVRT04

20090628RVRT05

20090628RVRT06

20090628RVRT07

20090628RVRT08

20090628RVRT09

20090628RVRT10

20090628RVRT11

20090628RVRT12

20090628RVRT13

20090628RVRT14

20090628RVRT15

20090628RVRT16

20090628RVRT17

20090628RVRT18

20090628RVRT19

20090628RVRT20

20090628RVRT21

20090628RVRT22


Active Saturday

The fledglings are now flying up and down the strip of parkland around the nest, and doing lots of exploring on the ground.  One of the fledglings ate leftovers that had been dropped on the ground.  There was also a feeding by the mother, who stayed with a fledgling rather than just leaving the food.  It was a nice day.


20090627RVRT01

20090627RVRT02

20090627RVRT03

20090627RVRT04

20090627RVRT05

20090627RVRT06

20090627RVRT07

20090627RVRT08

20090627RVRT09

20090627RVRT10

20090627RVRT11

20090627RVRT12

20090627RVRT13

20090627RVRT14

20090627RVRT15

20090627RVRT16

20090627RVRT17

20090627RVRT18

20090627RVRT19

20090627RVRT20

20090627RVRT21

20090627RVRT22

20090627RVRT23

20090627RVRT24

20090627RVRT25

20090627RVRT26

20090627RVRT27

20090627RVRT28


Friday Before The Downpour At Riverside

I visited the Riverside Nest in the late afternoon and early evening.  Both youngsters were about a block south of the nest tree.  One of the youngsters was sitting in a nest.  Whose nest it was unclear, but thankfully it looked to be unused.  The fledgling looked very happy to have found it.

The father arrived with a mouse, but seeing that both youngsters had been fed, ate it himself.  I left just before a powerful storm wiped through the New York area.  I managed to get a cab just in time to stay dry.

I need to comment on a post by Lincoln Karim which he posted on his website, www.palemale.com.  He lashed out at the Urban Park rangers for failing to send the dead Riverside Park fledgling to Ward Stone's lab for testing.  A necropsy was unnecessary, since the cause of death was clearly an auto accident.  There is no reason to lash out at dedicated public employees and print their phone numbers, so they can be harassed by rabid hawk watchers.

Behind the scenes, the Urban Park Rangers, in association with concerned hawk watchers and New York City Audubon have come together this year to begin to address eyass and fledgling safety issues.  The first document created by the group was an eyass safety document with protocols for handling emergencies.

I'm sure more work will come from the group, which has also started an informal network to report problems, and get volunteers to monitor nest locations.  Already this season, members of the group have helped with rescues of Red-tails and American Kestrels. 

They have also been helping monitor nest sites for rehabilitators, so that prematurely fledged birds can be returned to their parents.  This included making sure that two fledglings could be reunited with their family at the Unisphere nest site.

Improving the lives of Red-tails and other hawks in New York will only happen, if we patiently work with city employees and agencies, non-profits like New York City Audubon and the Central Park Conservancy, and the network of Vets and Rehabbers who volunteer their services to bring birds back to good health.  None of these organizations have any obligation to support Red-tailed hawks.

Hawk enthusiasts, rather than lashing out at organizations for what they aren't doing to help raptors in New York, should be asking what have they themselves done to support these organizations. 

Have you volunteered your time, your talents, shared your experiences or provided financial assistance to these groups? If you haven't and you call yourself a hawk lover, why not?


20090626RVRT01

20090626RVRT02

20090626RVRT03

20090626RVRT04

20090626RVRT05

20090626RVRT06

20090626RVRT07

20090626RVRT08

20090626RVRT09


Sunny Evening At Riverside

The sun finally came out this afternoon and the nest site was much easier to photograph.  One of the fledglings has become a really good flier and easily flies distances of one or two blocks.  The father arrived this evening with a rodent, the mother bit the head off, and then delivered it to one of the fledglings.  The pictures and video below contains some eating scenes.  Viewer beware.


20090625RVRT01

20090625RVRT02

20090625RVRT03

20090625RVRT04

20090625RVRT05

20090625RVRT06

20090625RVRT07

20090625RVRT08

20090625RVRT09

20090625RVRT10

20090625RVRT11

20090625RVRT12

20090625RVRT13

20090625RVRT14

20090625RVRT15

20090625RVRT16

20090625RVRT17

20090625RVRT18

20090625RVRT19

20090625RVRT20

20090625RVRT21

20090625RVRT22

20090625RVRT23

20090625RVRT24

20090625RVRT25


Congratulations, Marie Winn

Marie Winn's Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife, her wonderful book about New York's great park at night is now available in paperback for only $15.  It goes on sale today.  For more information about the book, visit her publlisher's website at: www.picadorusa.com/centralparkinthedark

The book has received great praise:

"Central Park in the Dark is a delight; I'd follow Winn into the park at any hour."--The New York Times Book Review

"A delightful chronicle of the animals that come out to hunt and play in the park at night . . . conveys the magic and enduring mysteries of Central Park."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Winn is an engaging writer, making us care about the evening denizens of the park (human or otherwise)."--Booklist

"Winn's book is a revelation. . . . A worthy addition to any nature lover’s shelf."--Buffalo News

"Exuberantly illuminates Central Park’s vibrant 843-acre nocturnal world."--Kirkus Reviews

"From screech owl rescues to slug sex, Winn pulls the reader into this tight-knit circle of people all searching for the same thing: a glimpse of nature in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city."--The Christian Science Monitor

CPITD
I photographed the owl on the jacket in 2008.  For my blog entries about owls over the last few years, click on any of the Eastern Screech-Owl Blogs links on the upper left hand corner of this blog.


Monday with Two Fledglings

It was a quiet evening with one fledgling exploring the nest tree and the other moving between trees.  Both parents were around but didn't spend much time near either fledgling.  The kids were quiet, so I suspect they had been fed earlier in the day.

Both birds roosted away from the nest tonight.


20090622RVRT01

20090622RVRT02

20090622RVRT03

20090622RVRT04

20090622RVRT05

20090622RVRT07

20090622RVRT08

20090622RVRT09

20090622RVRT10

20090622RVRT11

20090622RVRT12


Sunday Afternoon At Riverside

The late afternoon at Riverside Park was crowded with inexperienced birders who harassed the birds by being too noisy, too close or acting like paparazzi. 

These birds need to be given room to grow up without intentional or careless intervention.  Nature knows what it's doing.  Let it work.


20090621RVRTPM01

20090621RVRTPM02

20090621RVRTPM03

20090621RVRTPM04

20090621RVRTPM05

20090621RVRTPM06

20090621RVRTPM07

20090621RVRTPM08

20090621RVRTPM09

20090621RVRTPM10

20090621RVRTPM11

20090621RVRTPM12

20090621RVRTPM13

20090621RVRTPM14

20090621RVRTPM15

20090621RVRTPM16

20090621RVRTPM17

20090621RVRTPM18

20090621RVRTPM19

20090621RVRTPM20

20090621RVRTPM21

20090621RVRTPM22

20090621RVRTPM23

20090621RVRTPM24

20090621RVRTPM25


Sunday Morning At Riverside

The fledglings were very active, as were their parents on Sunday morning.  Food was brought by both parents   One of the fledglings is a capable flier, while its sibling is still more a an advanced brancher. 

It was happy to be back at the nest, although it was a difficult day, as I was asked "Where is the third baby" about twenty times.  I had to relay the bad news and console too many people today.


20090621RVRTAM01

20090621RVRTAM02

20090621RVRTAM03

20090621RVRTAM04

20090621RVRTAM05

20090621RVRTAM06

20090621RVRTAM07

20090621RVRTAM08

20090621RVRTAM09

20090621RVRTAM10

20090621RVRTAM11

20090621RVRTAM12

20090621RVRTAM13

20090621RVRTAM14

20090621RVRTAM15

20090621RVRTAM16

20090621RVRTAM17


Fledgling Death At Riverside

One of the three fledgling died after being hit by traffic.  The fledgling was found dead with a rat in its tallons, possibly its first kill and may have misjudged flying with the added weight.  The hawk's body was recovered by the Urban Park Rangers, who are sending it to the DOH for testing.


Saturday Reports

I'm in Avignon getting ready to start a bike trip in Provence.  


I got a nice report about Saturday's Riverside activities from Jean Dane.  
"I didn't get there til 6:30, but others reported not much action before that – parents didn't feed all day, 2 still in nest, little explorer still doing a little exploring. Some really spiffy flying-hops while I was there – nice landings – and he likes to balance on that little sharp point that's in the clear.

Right after we packed up to leave, bit after 8: one parent arrived with squirrel, poked around in nest for a minute or so and then flew away again, taking squirrel. Then we had both parents flying circles, perching in nearby trees with squirrel bits and flying away again – "you want it? come get it." It was too dark, starting to rain again, so we left, but it was a nice way to end."



Fledge Day

The brancher, came off the nest for a few hours today.  The time off the nest included some time on the ground.  It then returned to the nest in the mid-afternoon and took a nap!

I suspect the weekend will be full of fun activities.  Please be careful around the fledglings.  I saw many birders get too close to the fledgling.  As calm as a fledgling may look, they're easily spooked.  Once startled, they don't have enough experience or flying ability to go to a safe, high spot.  They can easily end up in a bike path or road.

The general precautions include:

  • Giving a new fledgling about 50-100 feet of space.
  • If there is a group of hawk watchers, don't spread out and surround the bird.
  • Don't block the "safe exits".  If you do, you'll end up moving a bird towards a highway or the water.
  • If someone asks you to move, don't be stubborn.  Take their advice and if you think they were being overly careful, calmly discuss the issue once you're away from the bird.
  • Error on the side of caution.  The bird's welfare is more important than your view or photograph.
  • If you are trying to take a picture with a standard point and shoot camera or a cell phone, you're too close.

I'm flying off to Paris tonight.  I can't wait to come back next week and see how our youngsters are doing.  Please feel free to email me your observations while I'm away. 


IMG_7077

IMG_7096

IMG_7313

IMG_7367

IMG_7511


Great Branching Today

The most active of the eyasses wondered around different branches of the nest today.  It was so much fun to watch.  After watching three eyasses in a nest for weeks, it was great to see one exploring the tree.  Fledging can't be far away.

There has started to be discussion about which eyasses are boys and which are girls around the nest site among the hawk watchers.  At this stage it's really hard to tell.  Just like 11 and 12 year old girls who are likely to be taller than boys in their class, young male hawks can be bigger that young female hawks while they're grow up. 

It's usually a good idea to wait a month or two after fledging to start comparing sizes and begin making guesses about the sex of the fledglings.  The guesses will be just that, guesses.  There is some overlap between size of Red-tails of each sex.  There are big boys and small girls.


20090611RVRT01

20090611RVRT02

20090611RVRT03

20090611RVRT04

20090611RVRT05

20090611RVRT06

20090611RVRT07

20090611RVRT08

20090611RVRT09

20090611RVRT10

20090611RVRT11

20090611RVRT12

20090611RVRT13

20090611RVRT14

20090611RVRT15


Branching Begins

Jumping up on branches is usually a precursor to fledging and tonight we saw some nice high hops up to higher perches.  I'm going away on Friday for ten days, so I hope at least one of them fledges before I go.


20090610RVRT01

20090610RVRT02

20090610RVRT03

20090610RVRT04

20090610RVRT05

20090610RVRT06

20090610RVRT07

20090610RVRT08

20090610RVRT09

20090610RVRT10

20090610RVRT11

20090610RVRT12

20090610RVRT13

20090610RVRT14


Between The Rain Showers

I only have about thirty minutes to spend at the Riverside Park nest this evening.  While I was there both parents were close to the nest and the eyasses were fairly relaxed.  I heard from other hawk watchers that the eyasses had been active earlier in the day.

The father seems to be spending much more time around the nest than a week ago.  The mother also seems to be keeping a closer eye on them.  I suspect that they also know that the fledge window started today and lasts through the weekend.


HD

20090609RVRT01

20090609RVRT02

20090609RVRT03

20090609RVRT04

20090609RVRT05

20090609RVRT06

20090609RVRT07

20090609RVRT08

20090609RVRT09

20090609RVRT10

20090609RVRT11

20090609RVRT12

20090609RVRT13

20090609RVRT14


Fun Monday At Riverside

The parents were both close to the nest tonight and had their hands full with a pair of Blue Jays.  The adult male, who spends time near the Boat Basin Café has been difficult for me to find when he goes south.  But tonight the Blue Jays made it easy to find him.  I suspect these Blue Jays will help us find the fledglings in a few days!

The kids relaxed and rested, with brief spurts of activity.  One of them found a new perch on the south side of the nest.  I didn't see any feedings tonight, but I suspect the eyasses were fed before I arrived.  The fledge window starts tomorrow.  I suspect we'll have at least one of the eyasses fledging by Friday.

If you thought watching hawks on a nest was fun, wait until you get to watch young fledglings.  You haven't seen anything yet!


20090608RVRT01

20090608RVRT02

20090608RVRT03

20090608RVRT04

20090608RVRT05

20090608RVRT06

20090608RVRT07

20090608RVRT08

20090608RVRT09

20090608RVRT10

20090608RVRT11

20090608RVRT12

20090608RVRT13

20090608RVRT14

20090608RVRT15

20090608RVRT16