Summer Friday's allowed me to get out of work early and go up to the Cathedral around 2 p.m. I was the only one hawk watching when I arrived, and looked high and low for the hawks. I searched the Cathedral exterior from Morningside Drive and 113th Street, the St. Luke's building, the Cathedral grounds, and Morningside Park but came up empty.
I parked myself on a bench overlooking Morningside Park, hoping to at least see the parents fly over the park. I started drinking some iced tea, relaxing on a hot, humid summer day, and then looked up. I was pleasantly surprised to see both fledglings within 10 feet of each other. Finally, I could hawk watch from a bench!
The fledglings, who have become difficult to tell apart, stayed in the tree until the early evening when their father brought them a rodent for dinner.
When dinner arrived one of the fledglings, who I assume was the precocious first fledgling, went directly to the Cathedral to be fed. The other fledgling, who I assume is the second to fledge, still seems to be having troubles gaining altitude and took a sensible route. It went downhill (south) to cross the street and then worked its way up north.
As I was leaving, Fledgling I was eating the rodent, which looked to be a rat. It was then joined by its sibling, Fledgling II, who looked to have gotten a bite or two before Fledgling I mantled over the prey. Robert Schmunk reports that Fledgling II got second pickings later in the evening.
The white area seen on the back of a Red-tailed Hawks had has a great name, the Cryptic Occipital Spot. There is an excellent paper written about the spot, The Cryptic Occipital Spot in Accipitridae (Falconiformes), published in 1977 by John C. Hafner and Mark S. Hafner.