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Lesser Scaup

The light wasn't that great at 7:00 p.m. but I got my first photographs of a Lesser Scaup on Wednesday.  The 117th bird species I've photographed, and the 131st I've seen in Central Park.

Female on left, two males on the right.


What's Next for Central Park's Red-tails?

It's now clear that the Central Park South hawk's first set of eggs are not going to hatch.  So, what's next?  Last year, the Trump Parc hawks laid a second set of eggs.  Will they do it again?

And will Lola lay a second set on Fifth Avenue? Lola already is making copulating postures according to reports from the hawk bench.  Both Lola and Charlotte are already taking longer breaks from the nest.  We can only wait and see what develops. 

We've also got a number of hawks outside of Central Park to keep track of in Inwood in northern Manhattan and the outer boroughs of New York City.  Rob Jett's The City Birder blog is a good place to keep track of nests outside of Central Park.

Sunday After The Rain

Sunday afternoon the rain finally let up for a bit.  The light was difficult and I missed getting a photograph of a Yellow Warbler up in the North Woods.

A juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron on the island on the Harlem Meer (a body of water at the NE corner of the park).

A Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Ramble.

A Palm Warbler in the Ramble.

Lola on Fifth Avenue still sitting on her nest.

Charlotte on the Hampshire House on Central Park South.

Doing The Math On Central Park South

Doing the math, I'm concerned about the Trump Parc nest.  Given when the first egg was discovered and padding very generously for delayed incubation and hatching this is the time line:

First egg discovered, March 13
Possible delay of incubation, add 2 days, March 15
Incubation takes 28-35 Days, add 35 days, April 19
Hatching, up to 4 days, add 4 days, April 23

This is the most generous timeline I can create, 41 days.  Given that no one has seen chicks yet, I think we should prepare ourselves for a negative outcome with this first set of eggs.

It rained most of the day in New York City on Saturday. The photographs below are from Saturday afternoon between 1:45 and 2:45 during a break in the weather. 

Charlotte on the NE roof edge of the Hampshire House.

Charlotte on the roof of 116 Central Park West, which was a construction site last year.

Charlotte back on Hampshire House.


...to return to...

...the nest.

Junior appears from the back of the nest...

...and quickly flies off.  Charlotte then rapidly moves to the back of the nest and settles in.

New York Times Article

The New York Times had an article about Central Park's Red-tailed Hawks on Friday. 

It was nice to hear that Donald Trump has not plans to interfere with the Central Park South nest.

There were two items that need correction:

  1. The photograph was of the Central Park South female, who has been named Charlotte by the hawk watchers.  Although the caption in the print edition of the Times said "perhaps the offspring of the famous Pale Male", it is her mate, that is suspected to be the son of Pale male.  (I'm not sure there is enough evidence to say for sure that he's Pale Male's son.  You'll notice that on this site, I always call him Junior and not Pale Male, Jr. as a compromise.)
  2. I don't think we know what the sexes of later year's offspring were.  Last year's eyasses (young hawks) were given short hand names while they were on the nest, Big and Little.  This helped us talk about them and write field notes.  Their size, especially at the time they fledged, shouldn't be used to sex them.  Just like 12 year old girls are bigger than 12 year old boys, using size to sex Red-tails that aren't mature could easily lead to errors.  Later on in the summer, they both looked to be of similar size.  So, I don't think anyone knows for sure what sex they were.
    It's interesting to observe how much we need to sex a bird in order to talk about it.  Our language forces us to use a him or her, rather than it when describing living things we love.

Watching Paint Dry

Friday, it was back to dull evening behavior.  (I wonder if the flurry of activity on Thursday was due to the unseasonably warm weather with temperatures in the 80s.)

Charlotte remained on the nest most of the late afternoon, early evening only showing herself for a few minutes.

We found Junior on the upper right edge of the Essex House sign as we left the park.

Central Park South Change Of Pace

Until today watching the Central Park South Hawks nesting from the street has been like watching paint dry. 

5:45 p,m - Empty Nest.

5:47 p.m. A light colored head appears.  What's Junior (the male) doing on the nest?

6:00-6:15 p.m. After some movement around the nest he looks like he's trying to cool off a bit.  Not your typical egg sitting behavior. 

6:15 p.m. Charlotte returns with a gray squirrel.  Unusual behavior, since Junior has spent the last month feeding her.

6:17 Junior leaves the nest.

6:18 He quickly returns.  Charlotte is in the back of the nest out of sight.

6:23  After both disappearing to the back of the nest, they both reappear.  Junior then takes off for the evening.

6:30-7:00 p.m. Charlotte spends a lot of time out of sight, but also spends a lot of time at the edge of nest.

7:40 She settles down for the evening.

All of these behavior changes could be a sign that the eggs have hatched or are about to.  We'll know the answer in a few days.

Update: I received an email from Ben Cacace who was digiscoping (using a digital camera with a telescope) from a nearby hotel at the same time I was photographing from the street.  From the higher view, there appeared to be an egg in the nest.  So, we'll need to wait a bit before passing out the cigars.

Charlotte On The CNN Sign

I found one of the Central Park South Red-tailed Hawks on the CNN sign in Columbus Circle on Wednesday. I was sure it was Junior, but when I got home and looked on my computer it was Charlotte. What a change. She had been going off the nest in the early afternoon.


Young Raccoon Near The Hawk Bench

A young raccoon is living near the hawk bench and appears every evening around dusk.  As night falls, many of the hawk watchers are now making a stop to look at him/her as they leave the park for the evening.


Lola Goes Into Overtime

I'm late, I'm late
For a very important date
No time to say "Hello", "Goodbye"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late

I run and then I hop hop hop. I wish that I could fly. There’s danger if I dare to stop, and here’s the reason why

You see, I’m overdue, I’m in a rabbit stew. Can’t even say goodbye, hello
I’m late, I’m late, I’m late

Lyrics from I'm Late from Disney's Alice in Wonderland.


Lola has been sitting on her nest longer than any successful year.  In years past she has sat on the nest anywhere between 35-41 days before her eggs hatched.  This could be a sign of another failure, or just a fluke.   Since the Fifth Avenue hawk watchers can't tell when eggs are laid, they count from when the female starts to stay on the nest.  It's possible, especially with a recently rebuilt nest, that she just started sitting on the nest without eggs earlier and all is fine.

Kestrel Kamikazi

A little after 7 p.m. on Sunday, a Kestrel decided to give Pale Male a hard time.  In years past, crows would have been the major pest, but the crow population has been decimated by the West Nile Virus and there are now very few in the park.





Expecting Parents

The Fifth Avenue nest had hundreds of observers on Saturday.  Many first time watchers stumbled onto the "hawk bench" while taking part in Easter activities in the park.  (The "hawk  bench" has great view of the nest, which during this season has lots of telescopes, including a power Meade telescope connected to a video camera/monitor generously provided by Lincoln Karim, www.palemale.com.)

Old timers were there looking to see if the chicks had hatched yet.  The old timers have reasonable concerns since last year's eggs failed to hatch. 

Pale Male (the male Red-tailed Hawk) has a history of his first year nests failing, so after the nest was removed in the early winter of 2004/5, it was not surprising that the 2005 nest failed.  Whether the nest was too small to keep the eggs insulated, the stress of building a new nest or possible punctures by the pigeon spikes in the nest are all possible reasons for first year failures.

The new nest cradle, added as a compromise over safety, might also be a problem.  So, all eyes are on the nest.  The hatching window is anytime in the next week or so.  Hopefully, good news will be reported soon.

When I arrived in the late afternoon, Lola (the female, nesting Red-tailed Hawk), was very active.

Lola is very alert as a Kestrel circles above the nest.

Pale Male escorts the pesky Kestrel away.  During the afternoon, other interlopers include two Turkey Vultures, a Peregrine Falcon and possibly a Northern Harrier.

Pale Male settles on a building four blocks north.

I hadn't seen it while I was photographing, but there is a Gray Squirell on the corner of the ledge.

The squirell gets picked up and taken to the nest.

Pale Male delivers the meal to Lola.   He's on the left.  Red-tailed males are usually a third smaller than females and this is clearly shown here.

Lola takes it...

...flies off...

...lands on the same building Pale Male was on...


...and eats dinner.

After eating, she does some flying...

...up and down 5th Avenue...

...while Pale Male sits on her eggs.

She then lands on a building five blocks north of the nest.

5th Avenue Nest

I arrived in the early evening just as Pale Male had arrived to give Lola a break.

Pale Male barely visible settled down in the nest.

Lola has headed far north.

Lola returns to the nest.

What were they doing?

Pale Male flies off the nest.

And then north, out of sight.

West Drive Eastern Screech-Owls

I've been following a pair of Eastern Screech-Owls on the West Drive for over a year. 

In February, there was an accident with one of the owls and I decided it was better to delay posting information about the pair until the owls had moved from their cavity into tree branches for the summer.

The events of the last two months weren't positive with the death of an adult and three hatchlings.  They're covered in a parallel blog I've been keeping privately for two months, at http://urbanhawks.blogs.com/owls/

I've now made the blog public, since the remaining owl is no longer using the West Drive cavity.