In July, I was very busy with work and then on vacation, so I didn't have much time to hawk watch. I finally had some free time and was able to visit Avenue A and Fifth Avenue this afternoon.
Hawk Watching can be frustrating. Most fledgings have learned to hunt and are going further and further away from their home base. And they're becoming more independent, venturing away from siblings and parents.
So, I wasn't surprised when I only saw one fledgling briefly on the Most Holy Redeemer Church today. That's normal for August.
The whole Avenue A family, the parents and the three fledglings were on the Most Holy Redeemer Church on Third Street this evening. It was great to see all three fledglings at once.
One of them has been getting him/herself into trouble over the last few days. Once it hung out low on Avenue A and had to be relocated to the park, and then two days later it flew into an air shaft. So, it was great to see all three flying around the church.
Dinner for one of the fledglings was a rat, which it stole from a sibling!
A store right below the Avenue A nest made the most out of the mess they endured while the eyasses were above. They created a great window display of the eggs and the eyasses. Worth a detour if you're on the Lower East Side. 45 Avenue A between 3rd and 4th Streets.
I went down to Avenue A to see how everyone was doing after the excitement on Wednesday, where one of the hawks got relocated to Tompkins Square Park.
I was able to find four of the hawks, but not the one who went to TSP. It had been last seen in the morning. (There were lots of robins attacking something at the top of a tree, near where the bird had been released so it might just have been too high to find.)
The four hawks were together on the Most Holy Redeemer Church.
I went looking to see if the Avenue A nest had fledged on Friday, to find all three eyasses still on the nest. I was a day to early. One fledged on Saturday morning! But they were fun to watch as there last day as an air conditioner trio.
The nest on Avenue A continues to do well. It's a little crowded on the air conditioner, but they're managing. The parents spent most of the evening across the street on the church, with the mother making one brief visit.
The adult male brought food to the nest and the three eyasses ate on their own, a sign they're growing up and will be fledging in a few weeks. The eyasses can be aggressive in going after the food, and one was today, quickly taking it from their father.
It began to rain, so I had to pack up my camera, but I still watched the nest. After about twenty minutes of letting the eyasses work on the food by themselves, the mother came in to help them finish their meal.
The Avenue A & 3rd Street nest hatched about a week ago. There are three eyasses. Tonight I arrived just as their mother return to the nest and fed them. The father was on top of a cross on a nearby church.
After visiting Washington Square it was off to Avenue A, and the new location of the Tompkins Square Park nest. This location is going to be hard to photograph. But the apartment owners have set up a camera, Avenue A Camera, so it should be a fun nest to follow.
My first stop on Sunday was Washington Square Park, where the pair was copulating on 1 Fifth Avenue when I arrived in the park. With the high winds, they seemed to be in no mood to move, so I went off to Tompkins Square Park.
The Tompkins Square Park nest has moved to Avenue A between 3rd and 4th Street on the north side of the avenue on a top floor air conditioner. The hawks brought twigs to the nest while I was there.
On early Sunday afternoon, I arrived at Tompkins Square Park to find the two adults circling just east of the park. They circled and circled, getting higher and higher until they joined at least two other Red-tailed Hawks and what looked like another species of raptor. The Red-tailed Hawks escorted out the intruder.
When it was over the two Tompkins Square Park hawks returned and they seemed to be escorting a pair of Red-tailed Hawks to move further north. My interpretation of the events was that the pair of hawks seen frequently in Stuyvesant Town may have been chasing an intruder, gotten support from the TSP Pair, but once the intruder was safely escorted out of both pairs territories, the Stuyvesant Town hawks had to be chased back to their territory.
After hearing two very upset hawks and watching workers try to install a piece of plexiglass (which seems to be a very bad idea), we ran into a member of the Christodora Co-op Board who explained what was happening at the Christodora House.
The building is starting a two year facade renovation which will require surrounding the building with a protective screen so all the brickwork can be replaced. If you've seen the top of the Christodora, which has mesh on top of almost the entire top floor to prevent brickwork from falling, you know this is an urgent and necessary project.
So, the buildings actions to remove the nest and discourage the hawks from reestablishing a nest are entirely justified. It's better to force the hawks to relocate, then to have them injured during the construction.
But you have to wonder about two things:
1) How naïve the building's board and management company must be not to have had a press release ready to explain their actions? The Christodora House nest did get huge coverage in the NYC tabloids. It was big news. Didn't the board know about the problems at Pale Male's nest and the recent fines levied against a construction crew on Central Park West?
2) What the heck are they doing with that sheet of plexiglass? Imagine what would happen if one of the adult hawks flies into the plexiglass and is injured? Looks like the Christodora House needs some adult supervision.
On Friday, Tompkins Square Park bird watchers discovered the hawk nest had been removed from the seventh floor air conditioner of the Christodora House. In its place was a strip of pigeon spikes.
On Saturday and Sunday the hawks, which the locals have named Christo and Dora, worked overtime to start rebuilding the nest.
Irregardless of the ethics or legalities surrounding the removal of an established nest during the winter, we're now in a difficult situation.
If the co-op owner, management company or a construction crew had a legitimate reason to remove the nest, their recent actions haven't dissuaded the hawks from moving. So, will the building just torture the hawks by removing the nesting materials each week until spring? That certainly would be cruel.
And if the nest is now left as is, will the pigeon spike cause a problem for the eyasses safety this spring?
I suspect this situation will end up being escalated to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Let's hope that either the building is forced to let the hawks continue nesting on the Christodora House or if the hawks are to be evicted, that old nest site is properly prepared so the hawks begin to find an alternate nesting location as soon as possible.
Adult Red-tailed Hawks generally tolerate juvenile hawks in their territories in the fall but start be aggressive with juveniles once the days start getting longer in the winter.
Today, after watching the adult male of Tompkins Square Park begin to do some hunting, all hell broke loose as a youngster came into the park. Soon both adults were chasing the youngster around the park and calling loudly. I wasn't able to capture the action very well, since it was late in the day and I only had a 600mm lens with me, but it was exciting to see.
Last Monday, I caught up with the adult female of Tompkins Square Park in the late afternoon. She's much easier to find now that her kids are gone. These hawks are multi-denominational. They love to perch on the crosses of three different churches in the neighborhood.
Tonight, I found an adult Red-tailed Hawk on the towers of the Con Edison plant at Avenue C and 13th Street, who could have been the Adult Female of the Tompkins Square Park pair.
Later in the evening the Adult Male was in Tompkins Square Park, caught and ate two small rodents and then went to the roost tree he's been using the last week. There he did something I've never seen before, he was fascinated by a bat. A Red-tailed adult usually sits fairly still, but tonight this one moved his head all over the place keeping track of the bat as it caught insects in the SW corner of the park.
Tonight, we saw the adult male hawk and a fledgling. The father still comes to the park each evening, but at this point doesn't need to hunt for any of the fledglings. The youngster, who caught a pigeon (but didn't eat it) kept us on our toes flying around the park as well as hanging out of fire escapes on building surrounding the park.
The father was the only hawk I saw in Tompkins Square Park tonight. He came to his usual spot, where only a week ago he was regularly feeding the fledglings. But it looks like the fledglings are hunting on their own and don't need Dad's handouts.
Dad, who's molting and looking a bit scruffy, made a few hunting passes before catching something at the north end of the park. He ate it in the children's fountain area, which is locked up at 7, so no pictures of meal.
Being one of the latest nests in the city, Tompkins Square Park still has its fledglings staying fairly close to the nest. All of the fledglings seem to have picked up hunting skills fairly well. On Sunday, one of the fledglings did a great job of killing a pigeon.
The hawks even seemed to be drawn to some of the punk bands playing in the park over the weekend!
Although the fledglings at Tompkins Square Park have been hunting on their own for awhile, tonight was the first time I witnessed it myself. There is something great about watching a young hawk show that it will be able to be independent from its parents.
We got to see at least two youngsters and the adult male. The juveniles are hunting in Tompkins Square Park but the father is still bringing food, so tonight after one juvenile had a meal a fresh rat another rat went uneaten.
For about twenty minutes at dusk, two of fledglings perched at the S.W. entrance to the park and drew quite a crowd. It was funny because only moments before they were about twenty feet inside the park and the park regulars were completely blasé about them and just ignored them. It's tough being famous in New York City!