All three juveniles were in the nest tree this evening. If I hadn't seen one yesterday in a tree to the south, I wouldn't believe a fledge had occurred the day before! One stayed on the nest, but the other two were out on branches most of the time. They all were having a nice relaxed day. Unlike one of the fledglings downtown.
The first fledgling is off the nest at Sheep Meadow in Central Park. A trip from the nest to a fence and back to a nearby tree. While I was there, there was an eyass on the nest, a bird branching (exploring the limbs on the nest tree), a parent watching everyone, and the fledgling. Somehow, the rain held off long enough for me to photograph all of them.
I was able to get some photographs before the rain came tonight. I tired a Livestream broadcast as well, but the eyasses went to sleep as soon as I started. The joys of trying to feed live!
(Just for the record, the later part of the Pale Male Irregulars post on May 26th about a Sheep Meadow hawk is pure fantasy. The hawk in the photographs is the adult female of the Sheep Meadow pair, not the male.)
For the first time this season, I left the Sheep Meadow nest feeling like I had gotten a great view of the eyasses, rather than fleeing glances.
The only sour note of the day was a gentleman who wanted to fly a small helicopter next to the nest. This is the eight time within the last year, I've seen folks with model helicopters in the park. The Park Regulations clearly ban them, (§1-05 Regulated Uses, r, 2) "No person shall engage in any toy or model aviation, kite-flying, model boating or model automobiling except at such times and at such places designated or maintained therefor.", with Manhattan having no approved model aviation areas.
Now that small drones and helicopters with remote cameras are under $400, it would be good to see these restrictions made clearer by the Parks Department. Beyond the obvious safety concerns for humans and the hawks, these new drones can be very noisy and are not appropriate for use in quiet zones like the Sheep Meadow. I would encourage anyone who likes to write letters, to send a note to the Parks Commissioner and request that restriction on model aviation be made more prominent in the Parks Department FAQs, provide refresher training to all Park Enforcement Patrol officers and ask the Central Park Conservancy to improve the signage at the Sheep Meadow, Great Lawn and North Meadow so as to remind park patrons of the restrictions.
At Sheep Meadow, I was hoping for some easy views of the eyasses, but had no such luck. I must have just missed a feeding and had sleepy, digesting eyasses in the nest. I did have a few glimpses however.
While I was there the mother few off for a few minutes and was followed by a noisy Bluejay. The male came in and got the Bluejay to follow him, so as to leave the female and the eyasses in peace. Nice work Dad.
If I counted properly, we have three eyasses in the Sheep Meadow nest this year. They were tough to see. Their mother left unattended for a good period and then returned to a perch above them kept an eye on them for over an hour before returning to the nest. She was also keeping an eye on the workers building a huge stage and sound systems for the AIDS Walk on Sunday.
I had visited the Sheep Meadow nest on Friday. Except for the female being higher in the nest than normal, there was no sign of a hatch. But today, after a visit by the male who seemed to be mesmerized by the contents of the nest, the female did a brief feeding. It will be a few days before we can take "baby pictures", but it's great to see these hawks do well in their second year.
This year, the male has a strange tail feather. While red in color it has stripes like a juvenile feather. Something I've never seen before on a Red-tailed Hawk.
I saw four Juvenile Red-tails along with the Sheep Meadow adults around the rink and the Pond on Monday afternoon/evening. It was a surprising number.
Past sunset, when I would have expected all of them to be roosting, one of the Juvenile hawks caught and ate a rat, well into the evening. This is the latest I've ever seen a Red-tailed Hawk eat.
Tonight after an afternoon of birding the North Woods of Central Park without a camera, and after a break to avoid a thunderstorm, I caught up with one of the Sheep Meadow youngsters.
It was a simple encounter with a hawk drying it's feathers and then hunting. (It had gotten to dark to photograph the capture of the rat which it caught after I had packed up for the night.)
The Salsa music of a few nights ago was replaced by roller-blading Disco, and at the end of the evening a singer who exploited the acoustics of the band shell.
While many fledglings have started to disperse and leave their parents, the two Sheep Meadow fledglings seem in no rush to leave yet.
One of the fledglings, who loves to hunt around the band shell, caught a rodent and ate it to the sounds and sights of Salsa dancers enjoying a wonderful summer evening.
The video includes the entire footage of the rodent being consumed.
I arrived at the Mall to find a crowd around one of the set of wooden benches that form a protective area. Inside was one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings, having just caught a pigeon. The hawks had to spend its time watching everyone who surrounded it eventually flew off to the north.
Struggling to find a good perch to eat the pigeon, it dropped in on to a crowded path. It sat patiently to reclaim its meal, but there were too many people. Eventually a hawk watcher moved the pigeon to a protected lawn, and the fledgling came down and ate the bird.
Many of the area's fledglings have already started to leave the area, so it was nice to see this youngster in late August.
Starting in late July, hawk watching in New York City becomes much harder. Fledglings, who had been yelling for food, are now quiet having learned to hunt. Warm weather has the hawks relaxing and staying put, making them harder to spot. And everyone, young and old have dispersed to wider and wider areas. Gone are those nice spots the families came to for meals together at regular hours!
So on Saturday, I had my first hawk free day of the summer. I didn't pick up a single hawk on a trip through Central Park.
This Sunday, I did find two hawks however. Pale Male up at 86th and Fifth Avenue, and one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings at The Mall.
I've missed the Sheep Meadow fledglings the last few times I've looked for them. Tonight, I missed them yet again, but I saw one of the parents for about an hour.
While watching the parent, I ran across folks who had seen both of the fledglings earlier in day. I also ran into a couple who had photographed one of them on the railing of a flowerbed on Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street with their iPhone. It was nice to know they were doing well, even if I didn't get to see them.
I finally got a chance to visit Central Park today.
My first stop was a look at the Peregrine Falcon nest, which yielded nothing. It was unclear if the birds had fledged or were sleeping. I suspect they've fledged, but will need to make another trip back to be sure.
Then it was off to Sheep Meadow to look for the fledglings. I always suspected they would hang out among the fenced off American Elms along the Mall, and that's exactly where I found them. Both were in the same tree one on a lower branch and one on a higher branch. They were very relaxed and looked healthy and well fed.
On Sunday at Sheep Meadow, when I arrived it looked like one of the eyasses had fledged. After about twenty minutes, however it became apparent that there were still two eyasses in the tree, and one had learned to go out on the branches.
Branching is common in tree nests, but I've become so accustomed to building nests, I had forgotten to give the tree a good going over before assuming we had had a fledge! I think the eyasses hatched around May 1st, so we should have a fledge by the weekend.
This is also from Friday afternoon. Two healthy eyasses looking like they will fledge within the week. It's so nice to have a tree nest to watch in Central Park!
(Despite the soundtrack of the video, beer sales and alcohol consumption in Central Park is prohibited but the regulation is randomly enforced.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
A visit after work to the Sheep Meadow nest let me discover that the nest has two eyasses, rather than the single eyass that I had seen earlier. It was great to watch them get fed, and see the mother give up on an old rodent and have it quickly replaced by a fresh kill by the father.
The video is about twenty minutes long but includes a very tender feeding of the two eyasses.
For the last few weeks I've been keeping track of a new Red-tailed Hawk pair in Sheep Meadow of Central Park. Most of us who knew about the pair decided to keep them under the radar while they got established. But a photograph was recently showed on the palemale.com site, so now that the secrets out I think it's reasonable to share some photographs.
The southern part of Central Park has been a mystery this year. Sightings of two new hawks, plus Pale Male and Octavia in the southern part of the park have made it difficult to figure out what's going on.
While I didn't believe it at first, was there is strong evidence that Octavia may have been spending time with both males, so we may have had only three hawks.
Since Octavia has begun sitting on the nest uptown, observers have only seen a single hawk down at Central Park South. So, the question I've been trying to answer is does this hawk have a brooding mate in a nest we haven't found or was what we assumed to be two pairs in late February and early March actually just three hawks?
I didn't discover the answer on Wednesday but had fun trying!