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Last Minute Glimpse

The Washington Square fledgling waited until the very last minute to show itself tonight, about fifteen minutes after the father arrived.  The fledgling gave us just a brief glimpse just before dark. 

After it appeared up by a microwave repeater, it flew at least a half block to another building where we lost track of its location.  It clearly isn't a tentative flyer anymore.  Hopefully, this means it may be coming down to earth sometime soon.


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Is Formel A Cult Word?

I got lots of letters about my corrections to John Blakeman's F.A.Q. for the Washington Square nest.  Those supporting my position outweighed those against by about twenty to one.

One of the most interesting letters talked about how John had trained the chat room to only use technical terms while discussing hawks.  What's interesting is how the chat room uses these terms like a cult, insisting everyone use them.

In real life, not chat room life, many of the terms John Blakeman has taught are rarely, if ever used.  Even in scientific discussions many of these terms are not enforced.  Using tiercel rather than male is rare for example, but like a cult many in the chat room insist on using this term.  Those who don't use tiercel are thought of as being ignorant.

But what really bothers me is the use of an archaic term from the middle ages for a female hawk, formel.  This term hasn't been used for centuries, except by John Blakeman and his followers.

Google formel and you won't find anything about hawks for pages.  Google formel and hawk, and you will only find it where John Blakeman has been. 

Here is the modern etymology of the word, formel.

  • The term is listed as obsolete in the O.E.D, with the last quotation from the 17th century. 
  • On February 28th, 2008 John Blakeman declares there is no word for a female hawk like tiercel.  To quote from a letter he wrote to Marie Winn's which she posted on her blog, "Sadly, for the Red-tail and other similar hawks that were never used in classical falconry, there is no really fine, deliberate designation of a female. A good number of falconers and raptor biologists label a female Red-tail as a "hen." For me, that's a term that should be reserved for real hens, female adult chickens and other closely related species. For me, "hen" is not properly serious enough to be used for a female Red-tail. To me, they are never so diminutive as to be called a mere "hen.""
  • The next day, a librarian, Chris Karatnytsky writes Marie that there is a term for a female hawk used in Chaucer's allegorical dream poem, Parlement of Foules.
  • John Blakeman begins using this term when writing to Marie Winn and then uses it with chat users both at the Franklin Institute and Washington Square nests.
  • To this day, revival of the term formel escapes the notice of ornithologists world wide.

Higher not Lower

While most of us expected the Washington Square fledgling to be coming into the park soon that didn'tt happen today.  Instead, it was a block further east, on top of a building using some scaffolding as a jungle gym.  I wonder if this behavior takes the place of branching, for birds born on a building rather than a tree nest?

The fledgling was harassed by an American Kestrel and later the adult female came in to check on her.   The mother then roosted for the night on a fire escape a block even further east.

I only stayed until 9:10, but it looked like the fledgling was going to roost at the top of the building.


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Washington Square

The Washington Square fledgling has chosen a secluded spot atop rooftops on a set of low N.Y.U buildings to spend its first few days off the nest.  It seems like a perfect spot to get used to living off the nest.

At the Trump Parc nest, it took one of the fledglings a week to enter Central Park from its building perches on Central Park South and 58th Streets.  The Washington Square fledgling also doesn't seem to be in a rush.  It's parents also don't seem to be in a rush as they continue to feed the fledgling on the roofs.

I'll be on vacations for the first two weeks of July, so if you're depending on me for Washington Square news, I would advise finding alternative sources!

Sunday afternoon, I watched for hours and only got a one minute glimpse of the fledgling after 5 p.m.  Watching in real life, rather than on a webcam takes a lot more effort!


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Evening Feeding

I've been busy with the Washington Square fledge, so I haven't been able to get to Fifth Avenue for awhile.  They've really matured since I last saw them.

As usually happens just before dusk, the mother fed them.


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Tea Time

A late afternoon snack of Rock Pigeon for the fledgling at Washington Square.  Hawk watchers saw a feeding earlier in the day, as well.  All seems to be going well and I would suspect we will have the fledgling in the park in a few days.


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Parents Keeping Watch

I was in Washington Square Park for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon.  They fledgling had just been fed  before I arrived and was out of sight. 

However, the parents were doing a good job of keeping a close eye on her.  The father, also kept Kestrel watch and did a good job of being a decoy.  He had managed to keep the Kestrels far away from where the fledgling is located.


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Fledge Day At Washington Square

I was at work with the eyass fledged just before noon, but reports are she had a wonderful long flight to another N.Y.U. building. 

I ended up seeing her later in the day.  She's ended up in a safe place, and I would suspect she will take her time getting to the park.

Her exact location was posted in some blog posts, and I would recommend that individuals and the media be a little vague in reporting her location from now one.  Now that she's in public places, she is at risk from people who might accidentally harass her or worse.

At other New York City nests, many hawks watchers privately share fledgling locations with people they know and are careful not to post specifics in public forums, chat rooms, blogs or websites.  It's a good practice and one I hope will be followed in Washington Square.


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Rain, Kestrels and Then Calm

I arrived just as a rainstorm broke loose.  The eyass was flapping like crazy.  The most excited I've seen.  Unfortunately, my equipment was in my bag staying dry.

After the storm the eyass just relaxed until nightfall.  The only excitement was a set of attacks on one of the parents by an American Kestrel.  No harm done but the Kestrel must have made thirty passes at the parent.


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Summer Arrives

The eyass at Washington Square jaunts across the ledge seemed to be more like flights than jumps today.  It was quieter than yesterday evening.  The parents were only seen late in the evening, just before dark.

Not much else to report. When watching the video, keep an eye out for another mystery photographer up in the executive suite of NYU.


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American Kestrels Around Washington Square

Based on recent rescues of fledglings, it's clear there are two American Kestrel families near Washington Square.  One to the Northwest and one to the Southwest.  Both groups tested territorial limits with the Washington Square Hawks this evening.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

The eyass continues to jump and show off.  But still shows no signs of leaving the nest.  Like many urban eyasses, this one may take its time and fledge later than normal. 


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The blur is an American Kestrel dive bombing.

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Hawk Behavior vs. Hard Science

I was watching the eyass on the Washington Square nest and a women joined me.  We started discussing the fledge date and I said the fledge window had started.  She retorted, "She won't fledge yet, her tail is too short."

I wanted to scream! Yes, an eyass usually waits to fledge until it is mature enough, which is best measured by the length of its tail.  However, eyasses fledge too early for their own good all the time.  This time of year, hawks fledging too early keep many a rehabber busy.

So, could all the hawk watching newbies, please remember that when it comes to hawk behavior each bird is different.  Some fledge early, some late.  Some like to beg for food, others are quiet.  Some become independent quickly, others take time to become independent. 

This variation between nests, based on the individual parents behavior, site logistics, and the individual fledglings is what make urban hawk watching fascinating.  I'm looking forward to years of following the Washington Square hawks and learning how the parents and their children adapt to a heavily populated urban park.


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Violet and an American Kestrel from Waverly Place defend territories.


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Brief Moments of Excitement

Except for Violet chasing off an American Kestrel and some very brief moments of Pip's flapping and jumping, it was a dull afternoon and evening in Washington Square.  The fledge window has opened, although I'm guessing June 21st as the fledge date.


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All Gone

Tonight a few lucky hawk watchers got to see the third and last eyass on the nest, fledge from the St. John the Divine nest.  I even recorded it!  (On the video, it's at about 4 minutes.) The fledge happened late in the evening, around 7:30 p.m.

This is the second early evening fledge in recent years at St. John.


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Five At Riverside

Everyone was expecting the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcons to have fledged by now, but they were still all there when I visited on Thursday.  I was very surprised to see five youngsters still at the scrape!

(It received an email late tonight that one of the falcons fledged after I left.  So, two species of Raptors had fledges on the same day just block apart.)

With the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcon parents have fledglings, expect a few territorial disputes between the St. John the Divine Red-tailed Hawk parents.


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Short Film

I couldn't figure what video I should edit out tonight, so here's a short film of this evening at Fifth Avenue.  If you have the bandwidth, choose 720p and go full screen.


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2 Down, 1 To Go

St. John the Divine has two fledglings.  One most likely went off the nest late Sunday and one on Monday morning.  When I was there one was on the southern side of the Cathedral and the other on a fence just north of One Morningside Drive near the guard station.  Both looked great, although the one on the Cathedral looked a lot more confident than its sibling.  The fledglings are in very safe locations away on the Cathedral campus, which is a quiet enclave.


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Washington Square on Sunday

On a rather gray day, it was fun to be in Washington Square Park.  The eyass was very active and both parents were on the nest together.  Afterwards the male ended up being harassed by two Northern Mockingbirds.  In the late evening, both parents were on the scaffolding on the east side of the park.


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