The eyasses at Riverside Park are doing well and should be fledging soon. Thanks to all of the people who supported the single mother. Up to now things have been doing very well, considering the death of the father.
The Riverside Park pair of Red-tailed Hawk eyasses is really close to fledgling. I wouldn't be surprised if one is off the nest by Memorial Day. Today they did lots of wing flapping and branching. Their tails look a little too short and some feathers haven't grown in on their heads, but otherwise they look pretty close to being ready for their first flights.
The Urban Park rangers have been doing a great job of helping the single parent mother feed the eyasses, by putting out food. I think this made a major difference for the outcome of this nest. The Rangers have also put up posters with simple do's and don't about how to respect the hawks. The posters remind dog owners to keep their dogs on leash.
There aren't enough Urban Park Rangers or Parks Enforcement Police to enforce the leash laws in Riverside Park, so it is helpful if the hawk watching community talks to owners of dogs who have their dogs off leash. This doesn't have to be an adversarial discussion. Last year, the mother would swoop over any loose dog that was chasing squirrels the week before they fledged. So, the issue is not only a hawk safety issue but also a dog safety issue.
The eyasses at Riverside Park are in that awkward stage where their flight feathers are starting to grow in. It's a good time to watch then, as you can figure out how wing and tail feathers work as they grow in.
The mother continues to hold her own, and is being supported by an Urban Park Ranger who is helping by leaving rodents near the nest.
The Riverside Park eyasses look great and the two of them are large enough for hawk watcher to get good looks at them often.
Tonight, I was thrilled to watch the mother accept food that had been placed out for her around the nest. Her accepting this food makes easier for her to be a single mom.
Eighteen days after warning John Herrold, Riverside Park Administrator that the placement of poisons at the Boat Basin Café was negligent, he responded with the most disingenuous reply. He wrote,
"Dear Mr. Yolton,
Thank you for you messages regarding the Red-tail hawks in Riverside Park. We share your concern for them and I apologize for not responding sooner. Please rest assured we have been actively engaged in working to care for the hawks.
We in Riverside Park are especially proud to have these beautiful creatures living in the park, and take great care to protect them. We are deeply saddened by the death of the male hawk on Sunday.
We will keep you informed as to new developments. Thank you again for your message and concern.
On April 11th, I had warned John Herrold that his staff was negligent by putting out poisons at the Boat Basin Dumpsters in late March. He took no action until he was contacted by Commissioner Benepe days later. His failure to acknowledge that he ignored my email and then his stating "We in Riverside Park are especially proud to have these beautiful creatures living in the park, and take great care to protect them." infuriated me.
Absolute B.S., when you've most likely just killed one of them.
Please call and email his office and ask why he did not mitigate poison usage around the nest this year and what his action plan is to prevent this kind of accident from ever happening again. His email is John.Herrold@parks.nyc.gov (or firstname.lastname@example.org) and his office can reached at (212) 408-0264. If you contribute to the Riverside Park Fund, please consider withholding any donations and let the fund know your reason, until this issue is resolved.
The eyasses you see below deserved two parents.
There were at least two active eyasses on the nest today. (At this stage, they're too small to know if it's two or three.) If you go watch them, be aware that you can only see them from the ridge by the highway at this stage. All I can say is they're more fun to watch than Easter Bunnies!
Two hours of hawk watching yielded five seconds of eyass footage Thursday. The winds were over 30 MPH, and for the most part I think the mother just wanted to keep them safe and warm, which meant hidden.
I could see the mother settling down, as I approached the Riverside nest, so I think I had just missed a feeding. So, I had to be patient and wait for a glimpse of an eyass (hawk nestling). Just before nightfall, I saw two brief glimpses of an eyass, possibly two. They're easiest to see on the video.
The father was near the nest for about half an hour.
Thirty M.P.H. winds made it difficult to observe and photograph the nest Sunday afternoon, but there were positive signs that one or more eggs may have hatched. The mother ate on the nest and appeared to be sharing food. It wasn't conclusive and she may have just been "eating for one", but it did look like she might be feeding. We'll know for sure in a few days.
The father joined the mother on the nest but there wasn't an exchange. Another sign one or more eggs may have hatched.
Watching a hawk sitting on a nest takes patience! Tonight, at the Riverside Park nest near the Boat Basin, it took lots of patience. The female sat on the nest and almost nothing happened. All of this is a good sign, but it makes for a dull evening.
I finally got down to the Riverside Park nest today. Daylight Saving Time, sure helps make it easier to bird watch after work.
The female is already sitting on the nest, and I got to watch the male arrive and allow her to take a dinner break. After this pair's bad luck over the last few years, I hope this year goes smoothly.
The nest is the same as last year's and is along the river around 81st Street.
I've been away on weekends, and it's too dark in the late afternoon to visit Riverside Park after work, so I haven't been able to visit until this Saturday.
While I was away I received reports of the youngster being at the ballfields by the dumpsters south of the Boat Basin, and further north in the 90's and 100's. The youngster's being outside of the parent's territory is a great sign that it's growing up!
When I visited Saturday, I only found the two parents. They were together on a water tower at 81st and Riverside, and both few off towards the south. I found one, perching on various lamp posts above the highway.
I went looking for the youngster, without any luck. As I left the park, I saw a bird perched on a building at 90th and Broadway. I was hoping it was the youngster, but found that it was a Peregrine Falcon, a nice consolation prize.
When I finally found the juvenile Red-tail at Riverside Park it was on the Soldier and Sailors monument on top of one of the decorative eagles. By the time I got my equipment out, the hawk had left! The hawk then when up and down the Promenade a few times before roosting in an Oak tree on the east side of the Hippo playground.
I had a wonderful time watching the Riverside Hawks on Sunday. The juvenile caught two rodents, the mother a squirrel and the father was in his favorite tree by the swamp.
The photos of below and the video contain a great number of images of the rodents being eaten, so if this doesn't appeal to you, feel free to skip this post.
I seached all of the "regular" spots at Riverside Park on Saturday afternoon for a juvenile hawk only to come up empty handed. I decided to leave the park via the Hippo Playground and at the top of the hill at 90th Street discovered a juvenile hawk perched in a tree.
As it got dark, the juvenile moved a few times before settling into a Ginko tree as its nighttime roost. The tree was in the Joan of Arc park at 91st Street.
This is the exact area used by last year's juvenile.
The older juvenile hasn't been seen in over a week. It most likely has left the parent's territory to begin its life on its own.
The younger juvenile continues to hang out near the two ballfields south of the café. It is hunting on its own, but still begs for food when it sees its mother.
While I visited on Saturday, the juvenile eat a pigeon on the ground and later the mother came in an ate a bird on the backstop of one of the ballfields.
Update: After I wrote this, I got a note from another hawk watcher that says the older juvenile may have been seen Sunday. So I may have spoken too soon.
One of the juveniles and the father spent time around the playground by the river south of the small ballfield before the juvenile spend about an hour on a chain link fence that surrounds the ballfield.
The juvenile drew quite a crowd while it was on the fence. I have mixed feelings about all of the gawking. One one hand, it helps educate New Yorkers that we have hawks in the city, but I worry that the crowds stress the juveniles, interrupt their hunting and habituate them to humans.
My Saturday afternoon at Riverside had me finding one of the youngsters on a softball backstop, then had the youngster soaring high over the park, the mother returning to eat on the same backstop, and finally the mother on a streetlamp.
Finding all of the family in on visit is getting increasingly difficult as the juveniles are more independent.
Later this fall, we should expect the juveniles to take off to live their live's independent of their parents. It's one of the anti-climatic things about hawk watching. There's no goodbye party when the kids decide to leave home, they just disappear.
Tonight, I got to see a calm fledgling take it easy for about an hour before going to roost in a tree on the North Lawn.
(Since most of the action is taking place earlier in the day, I'll be visiting the nest less often on weekdays.)
Today, I arrived to see one of the young fledglings surrounded by people. The fledglings aren't scared by people, but that doesn't mean we can surround them and gawk at them like they were in a zoo.
The two fledglings need to learn to be great hunters before they leave their parents. If we trample the underbrush, whistle at them, and stand directly under them with our iPhone cameras, the fledglings are going to be spending their time worrying about us and we'll have scared away their prey.
I guess New Yorkers are sadly, just happy to love these hawks to death.