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The Century Peregrines At 25 Central Park West

I'm a little late to the party, since these Peregrines have been on The Century for three years. But I was overjoyed to see the parents and their two eyasses on Saturday.  The Century is located at 25 Central Park West between 62nd and 63rd Streets.

The nest box is on the eastern side of the south tower.  For news about the hatching of the two eyasses, see The West Side Rag and the Gothamist

(I am concerned about a picture in The West Side Rag.  The pebbles in the nest box are much larger than the gravel traditionally used in nest boxes.  Given that only two of four eggs hatched this year, the owners of the box might want to switch to a gravel approved for nest box use before next season.)


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Sheep Meadow After The Rain

I got to see lots of wet hawks on my visit to Sheep Meadow Saturday afternoon.  The eyasses are growing up and are no longer white puff balls.  The parents were off drying in the sun on a tree on the north side of the meadow. 

The biggest surprise for me was the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon.  I had seen this hawk here in the spring, but assumed it was a migrant.  I was presently surprised to learn it was a Central Park resident, nesting on 25 Central Park West.


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When?

At Fifth Avenue, the hawk watchers are asking what happens at every nest, when will the eyasses (young hawks on the nest) fledge (fly off the nest).  To answer this question requires some basic science, some behavioral science and lots of luck.

The basic science is that we know that generaly hawks fledge after 42-46 days.  For some reason this can be longer for city nests, say 45-50 days.  We're not sure why we have this variation.  It could be that we can count hatches more accurately in the city or that building nests without the opportunity for branching activity by the eyasses prolong the period.  Hawks also need to be physically mature to fledge.  So hawk watchers look at feather growth but more importanly tail length to judge if a hawk is ready to go.

On the behavioral side, we look for lots of jump-flapping and movement around the nest.  We also look at the temperment of the hawks. Like college age childern, some look like they are eager to move on and others look like they won't move out at all.

But in general, seeing a flege is about good luck and putting in the time to be in the right place at the right time.


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Almost Ready at Washington Square Park

The eyasses at Washington Square Park are almost ready to fledge.  They're jump flapping and flying well on the ledge but seem to tucker out a bit too quickly to be leaving the nest just yet.

They've been hiding in the back corners, so don't be surprised if you don't see them when you visit.  It's easy to think at least one has fledged sometimes!


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Parenting Variations Evident at Tompkins Square Park

One of the nice things about getting to know Red-tailed Hawks is to learn the variations between individuals.  In Red-tails, this is most evident in the role the father takes once the eyasses are born.  Some fathers just delivery food, while others help with preening and feeding the eyasses.

At Tompkins Square Park, the father is very involved with the eyasses care and spent a great deal of time grooming them Friday afternoon.  Hipster dad for the hipster neighborhood.

In these pictures, especially the last few, you'll see the mother acting as a sun shade for the eyasses.  I can't figure out how they fit under her at this point with the eyasses being so big.


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St. John the Divine

I finally had a chance to get up to St. John the Divine tonight.  Construction has started on a new building right next to the nest, so this may be the last season for this nest.  We'll see what happens next year.

But for now there are three very cute eyasses enjoying their nest on the shoulders of St. Andrew.


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Hop, Skip and a Jump

The Washington Square Park eyasses are enjoying their ledge and are doing lots of jump flapping.  It's fun to watch and we should see them off the nest in a week or so.


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Fifth Avenue Bench

After returning from my honeymoon, I went to the Fifth Avenue nest to find a wonderful crowd of onlookers enjoying the eyasses.  There were three scopes and lots of viewers.  It felt like the old days.   Over the last few years, we've lost many of the "original bench".  It was good to see a second generation fascinated by Pale Male.


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Sheep Meadow - Back To Normal

The Sheep Meadow hawks seemed to be more relaxed on Monday with most of the AIDS walk equipment already having been removed and the noise level back to normal.  Parades on Fifth Avenue, Graduations in Washington Square and Charity Walks starting in Sheep Meadow are all things urban birds must put up with now and then.  It's part of living in New York City.


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Washington Square Park

The eyasses at Washington Square Park still have a lot of growing to do, but they're sure looking older.  Their orange bibs are coming in and they're getting closer to their mother's height.  They've even started to pick at food a little bit.


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Tompkin Square Park

The eyasses have grown up enough that if one is patient and waits for a feeding one can now get a very good view of them from the street.  I had a great time on Sunday watching the hawks.  Across the street from where I was watching was an afternoon first communion service at the local Roman Catholic parish.  Many of the church goers stopped by and watched the hawks.  I sometime get burnt out by lots of hawks questions, but this was fun group who really wanted to know about the hawks.


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Testing 1, 2, 3

The Sheep Meadow hawks are having to put up with a great deal of commotion this weekend.  Not only was the meadow full of people, the stage and launch area for the AIDS Walk NYC was 100 feet from them.

These hawks, who built there nest in the winter when the Sheep Meadow was locked for the season, must have had a great surprise when they discovered this spring they had chosen one of the busiest areas in the park for their nest site.

Luckily, the eyasses will be safe in their tree, even if there is a lot of noise.  Plus when they fledge, they will always be able to play on the lawn on the Mall next door, which is permanently closed since it contain one of the last large urban stands of American Elms in the northeast of the US.


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Fifth Avenue

The eyasses at Fifth Avenue are now big enough that at least one of them is visible when you go to see them.  This makes it really enjoyable to visit them.  They're flapping and moving around the nest often.


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Sheep Meadow

Although it started to rain while I was in the Meadow, I got some great views of the two eyasses.  In addition to a feeding, I got to see the mother attend to a number of pin feathers on one of the eyasses.

Unfortunately, the day was interrupted by a Conservancy employee who was insistent that my tripod was in some way damaging the Sheep Meadow lawn.  A quick phone call to the park's Directory of Community Relations (CGreenleaf@centralparknyc.org) resolved the matter. 

Unfortunately other photographers weren't so lucky earlier in the week. They had been forced to stop photographing the hawks by other Conservancy employees. 

The behavior of these employees proved to me that there is a systemic bias against photographers in the Central Park Conservancy that flows from senior management down to the most junior employees.

When this ends up in court, which at this point I'm almost certain it will, it's going to be fun watching the Conservancy try and prove that a camera tripod with a DSLR and attached telephoto lens could do any damage to the Sheep Meadow lawn.  If the lawn is that fragile, no one should be allowed to picnic on it!


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Thompkins Square Park - Another Feeding

The eyasses are still too small to get good glimpses of yet, but the parents doing a great job hunting for them and feeding them. 

The Alphabet neighborhood is really excited to have this nest.  It's been nice to see people be curious about their new guests.  I must have had 40 people ask me questions about the hawks today.


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Washington Square Park

The eyasses are starting to lose their white feathers.  It's amazing how fast they grow. From a hatchling to a nearly full grown bird in 45 days.  It was a quiet evening with the parents taking a long break on the cross.  One of eyasses ventured a long way out on the window ledge.  Other than that not much happened while I was observing.


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Tompkins Square Park Feeding

The Tompkins Square Park nest has three eyasses and I was able to catch a feeding by the mother, followed by a small feeding by the father in the early evening.  Happy Mother's Day to the new parents.

If you're trying to tell the adults apart, the male of this pair is (like most male hawks) is about a third smaller than the female.  This particular male also has a lighter colored head, and a much stronger black band on his red tail than his mate.


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