Octavia was hanging out on a building just south of the Frick about a week ago. It's one of her favorite spots and the "hawk chawk" below the window proves it.
Pale Male continues to hunt near the "Polish statue" in Central Park. He might be the easiest Red-tailed Hawk to watch in New York. He had caught a small mouse before I arrived, but was certainly keeping an eye out for his next meal, while I watched him.
Pale Male at the Obelisk (also know as, Cleopatra's Needle) in Central Park today. He loves this area in the fall, and patiently waits until the rats come out at dusk.
Pale Male continues to eat and hunt in the late afternoons east of the Great Lawn in Central Park. He's not there every day, but he's there often, as he has in past years. I caught up with him on Friday and Sunday.
Pale Male was in one of his favorite late summer/fall eating spots on Saturday. He likes a tree with a wide flat branch that makes a great picnic table in a triangle shaped lawn that is north of the Polish statue and south of the Obelisk. He was eating a rat. After he was done, he flew over to the Met. He should enjoy now before the roof reopens to visitors.
Frederic Lilien has generously made his film The Legend of Pale Male available to watch for free during the Covid-19 outbreak. Enjoy the film!
Pale Male and Octavia continue to show me how dull it is to watch a brooding nest. Not much happens when I'm there. I have hours of the same footage. But here's some more of the same!
It will be interesting to see if the eggs hatch this year. Low levels of rodenticides may led to infertility. If this year's eggs don't had, should we worry that Octavia has repeated the problems Lola had?
My daily social distancing walk took me around the southern areas of Central Park. I first caught up with the two hawks around Grand Army Plaza. One was on 9 West 57th and the other on a perch I just discovered, 520 Park Avenue (which is really 42 East 60th).
I then saw both of the San Remo hawks on the San Remo. The nest on The Majestic look big enough to stop an egg from rolling off, but it still isn't built properly.
Lastly, I saw and filmed Octavia leave the nest and Pale Male take over incubating duties. Sorry about the poor video, the wind was bouncing my camera around.
I found a good vantage point to watch Octavia incubate her eggs, off the beaten track so I can safely practice social distancing. Nothing much happened while I watched her for about an hour.
I caught up with the 927 Fifth Avenue nest as Octavia had returned and Pale Male was leaving the nest.
The background music is from an Accordion player, illegally using an amplifier to totally dominate the Model Boat Pond area. Sadly, the COVID-19 outbreak is being used by many, mostly affluent park users to flaunt the park regulations. There are hundreds of off leash dogs, bikes illegally on paths, dogs in the lakes and ponds, people jumping fences damaging the landscapes and motorized scooters in the park now. While I expected some break down of the social order due to COVID-19, I wasn't expecting it to start with the most affluent New Yorkers.
Just catching up with posts. This was from Sunday. Octavia can be seen on the 927 Fifth Avenue nest from Pilgrim Hill if you stand in exactly the right place.
Octavia has been sitting on the nest for at least the last few days. She's very hard to see when she's on the nest. I got some brief glimpses of her this afternoon.
On Monday afternoon, Pale Male was on the 927 Fifth Avenue nest and Octavia was on a building at 79th and Fifth Avenue. Pale Male did some rearranging of some sticks on the nest.
Central Park has been very quiet this winter. Birds number are low, and many of our standard winter species are hard to find. But three species of raptors, are consistently being seen, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks and Peregrine Falcons.
The park has a number of Cooper's Hawks, mostly juveniles spending the winter. On Friday, two were working the Evodia Field feeders. One of them caught a sparrow. While eating it, the other tried to steal the food without success.
On my way north, I ran into Pale Male sunning outside the Maintenance bathrooms. Central Park had no fledglings last year. The pair at 95th Street/CPW lost their young about two weeks after they hatched and the adult female died. Pale Male and Octavia, who were not seen copulating last year, did not have their eggs hatch. And the pair on the San Remo, laid eggs without a nest yet again.
So, it will be interesting to see what happens this year. There definitely are three adult pairs of hawks in the park, with possibly a forth (59th and Fifth Avenue) or fifth pair (north of Mount Sinai). After Valentine's Day, we should be seeing lots of copulation and nest building activity. Let's hope we have at least one successful pair this year. Keep an eye out for activity over the next eight weeks.
Further north, the lone Peregrine Falcon that has been on the El Dorado, was there yet again.
I had some nice encounters with Pale Male and Octavia over the last two days. Pale Male was on the "Linda Building" at 73rd and Fifth Avenue on Sunday, and both hawks were near the Ancient Playground just north of the Met on Monday. It was nice to see Octavia, who can be hard to find in the winter. The first four images are of Pale Male and the last four are of Octavia.
On Wednesday, Pale Male was on one of his favorite buildings at 73rd and Fifth Avenue. I has seen him at dusk further north on Monday and watched him catch a rat.
I caught up with Pale Male on Wednesday on one of his favorite window railings at 73rd Street and Fifth Avenue. The days have gotten short and soon he and Octavia will be working on the nest for next season. Last year, there were no reports of anyone seeing Pale Male and Octavia copulate and the eggs didn't hatch. Let's hope for a more productive 2020.
November is a great time to watch hawks in Central Park. Migrants are coming through, both adults and juveniles and resident Red-tailed adults are more visible as the trees loose their leaves. Here's a group of images taken over the last two weeks, from the south end to the north.
Pale Male was perched east of the Maintenance Building in the Ramble for most of the afternoon in Central Park on Saturday before going off to roost via a tree on Cedar Hill. He's been hunting rodents, where he was perched, on earlier days this month.
Octavia, the female of the 927 Fifth Avenue nest was on the "Woody" building one block north of the nest late on Friday afternoon. (Woody Alan no longer lives in the Woody building, by the way.) Octavia was in to rush to leave, but eventually left and perched on a window railing at 70th and Fifth Avenue, which faces north and overlooks The Frick Collection's garden.
Pale Male was on the "Linda Building" at 73rd and then his nest on Sunday afternoon. This year was unusual in that Pale Male and Octavia weren't seen copulating in the spring by any of the regular hawk watchers. Their nest failed this year, too. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.
This evening I was lucky enough to find Pale Male and watch him explore the East Pinetum of Central Park. He caught a pigeon and after a few flights, ended up eating it for about 3o minutes before being interrupted by an aggressive Gray Squirrel, which forced him to move to another tree.
(There are some pompous and misogynistic birders on Twitter and Facebook who have recently decided to immediately respond to the posting of any photograph or video of Pale Male, especially those taken by a women, with comments like "It can't still be Pale Male, it must be one of his offspring."
The comments are based on the belief that a Red-tailed hawk can't be older than around 30 years. However, the statements offer no proof that Pale Male has been replaced by another hawk, and generally have a tone that implies that the female photographer isn't a "real birder", but a "hawk watcher inclined to anthropomorphize". While many hawk nests go through numerous changes of mates, generally unnoticed by observers, for the 14 years I've watched Pale Male he remains the same bird with exactly the same habits and perches.
I missed his early days in the park. There are only a handful of birders who have followed Pale Male since he arrived in the park. I know most of them and they all are convinced Pale Male is still the original bird that arrived years ago.
I also find it incredible that these folks say that Pale Male might have be replaced by one of his offspring. Natal dispersal is incredibly far for Red-tailed Hawks, up to 1,000 miles. And what hawk is going to mate with its mother? When the time comes for 927 Fifth Avenue to get a new male, it won't be one of Pale Male's offspring. Anyone who thinks otherwise clearly doesn't understand raptor biology.
So, if you really believe Pale Male is Pale Male II, offer some hard proof. Otherwise, don't insult the many wonderful female photographers in the park every time they label a photograph of the adult male from the 927 Fifth Avenue nest, Pale Male.)
Although I hope I'm wrong, I can't get the math to work out for Pale Male and Octavia.
Octavia started sitting on the nest on March 17th. When you calculate a hatch date, you start with 28-35 days for incubation, add a few days just in case the female starts sitting before laying eggs, and add a week more since the eggs can take a week to lay, and if only the last one hatches it will be later. That's at worst case, 35 plus 14 days, or May 5th. Today is May 15th.
The "regulars" who follow Pale Male and Octavia year round didn't see them copulate this season.
So, the nest most likely won't hatch.
When Lola was infertile, she would sit for a long time on the nest before giving up each year. I think we're seeing the same thing with Octavia this year.
Two Red-tailed Hawks, other than Pale Male and Ocatvia, flew over the Fifth Avenue nest on Saturday evening causing both Octavia and Pale Male to leave the nest. Usually we only see a single intruder, usually a single juvenile or adult hawk enter the territory. Two adult hawks together seems unusual for this time year. While it was impossible to know, it could have been the San Remo pair investigating how their neighbors are doing.
The video has Pale Male on the nest and then leaving, Octavia returning, and then Octavia settling down. Estimates are that this nest is due to hatch sometime this week. No feedings have been seen yet, although Pale Male has brought a small mouse to the nest, which may be a positive sign.
I made two visits to Fifth Avenue today. Once in the morning, where things seemed to be like they had for the last few weeks with both hawks escorting out intruders and making brief visits to the nest. But when I visited this evening, things had changed. Octavia clearly had started brooding. She was sitting tight on the nest for the first time this season!
American Woodcocks have been migrating through New York City this past week. I caught up with one on Saturday in the Ramble of Central Park. It was doing it's best to stay hidden, which it did an excellent job of doing!
Hawk watchers at Fifth Avenue got to see many nest visits, watch Pale Male chase off a juvenile Red-tail and share food with Octavia over the last few days. We all are looking forward to the 2019 nesting season.
I didn't get much of a chance to watch Pale Male and Octavia that much this weekend. On Saturday, I caught both of them on the Carlyle Hotel. On Sunday, I found Pale Male in a tree by the Boathouse parking lot.
What I found strange this weekend was listening to multiple tour guides and folks claiming to be "locals" who seemed stuck in the 2004/2005 period. They gave lectures to tourists about Pale Male and Lola, talked about celebrities who haven't lived on Fifth Avenue for years, asked if the nest was "new" because they knew the old one had been taken down, and other nonsense.
The entire time frame of the nest being taken down, including the protests, and the installation of the nest cradle lasted only a few weeks. That was over fourteen years ago. Folks, it's time to put away your old copies of Marie Winn's books and Frederic Lilien's DVDs and catch up to the present! A lot has happened in fourteen years!
Not much has changed over the last few days with Pale Male and Octavia. The nest is being visited in the afternoons and both Octavia and Pale Male are spending time in the afternoon near the Met.
Nest visits by Pale Male and Octavia have been difficult to witness these last few days. These images are from the last few days. With the exception of two Peregrine Falcons, who harrased Pale Male one afternoon, it has been a quiet few days.
The hawk watchers on Fifth Avenue have been expecting to see Pale Male and Octavia begin to copulate as it's after Valentine's Day, but there have been no reports yet. I been seeing a nest visit around 2 p.m. and then various random sightings over the past week or so, which is what I saw today.
This afternoon was relatively quiet on Fifth Avenue. The pair flew together and chased off a Coopers Hawk and a Red-tailed Hawk. But there wasn't a late day visit to the nest. We did get to see some nice views of Octavia, who at first glance like Pale Male in the golden light of dusk.
I only got to see one visit to the nest by Octavia and then got to see Pale Male on a balcony a few blocks north of the nest building tonight. But it was nice to see both of them even though there wasn't much action.
While I haven't seen Pale Male and Octavia copulate this season, they've been spending time together, both have been working on the nest, and chasing out intruders into their territory. It's so nice for another year of hawk nesting to begin once again.
The week of Valentine's Day is the unofficial start of hawk watching season in New York City. Hawks who have been doing minor nest refurbishment since January, now start to copulate and getting ready for egg laying in mid to late late March. I gave a talk on Pale Male last year and thought it might be helpful to share some of the slides as a primer on what is going to happen over the next six months.
I encourage anyone who hasn't watched a Red-tailed Hawk nest to do so this year. It's incredibly enjoyable. The "hawk bench", were the best viewing is from, is just next to the Hans Christian Andersen statue on the west side of the Model Boat Pond. And if you aren't near the Fifth Avenue nest, there are many alternative nests to choose from in New York, as well as may other locations throughout the country.
Monday's hawk watching wasn't that successful. I only had a brief glimpse of Octavia, Pale Male's mate on the Carlyle Hotel in the afternoon.
I had a brief view of Octavia on the nest before she flew off at dusk. I'm looking forward to watching them for another year!
Pale Male and Octavia continue to work on the nest. Pale Male brought two twigs to the nest while I was watching early this afternoon.
Another good sign Pale Male and Octavia are getting ready for spring, was spotting them both sitting together on the The Carlyle Hotel. Pale Male joined Octavia on a floodlight, before moving over to the floodlight on the right. He then went to the "Linda" building which is a block south of the nest before heading north. Octavia continued to perch on the same floodlight.
The Fifth Avenue nest had both hawks in it late in the afternoon. Sadly you could see the shadows being cast by the buildings on Billionaires Row every so often. When I arrived both hawks were on the nest. Pale Male left leaving Octavia on the nest, and she left after about half an hour. Pale Male returned with a twig, stopping first on a nearby building. After about fifteen minutes he glided down to a tree just inside the park, before taking off. Although, we're having a warm streak, nest refurbishment is the surest sign I know that spring is right around the corner.
While it's still winter, Red-tailed Hawks across the region are starting to tidy up their nests and get ready for spring. Around Valentine's Day pairs of hawks will begin to copulate followed by brooding in mid to late March.
Today, I caught Pale Male and Octavia working on their Fifth Avenue nest. It always seems like each wants to undo what the other has done, but it always works out. Octavia left the nest first, followed by Pale Male about fifteen minutes later. I was able to catch up to Pale Male in one of his favorite roosting trees at dusk.
Pale Male is on the left and Octavia is on the right. Note his smaller size, lighter color and thinner head. Notice her rounder, wider head, darker color, and rounder eyes with a light lower eye ring.
I caught up with Pale Male while exiting the park on Saturday. He was on a Metropolitan Museum of Art security camera on the north side of the building. He only stayed perched long enough to get a few seconds of video.
I haven't been doing much hawk watching the last few weeks, but ran into Pale Male near the Three Bears statue south of the Met on Friday night. He loves to hunt there at dusk before going off to roost. I didn't see him catch anything, but he was paying close attention to the rodents coming out for the evening.
Today, I caught up with one of two Red-shouldered Hawks that's been in Central Park. This bird is in the same family, Buteo, as Red-tailed Hawks. We first saw the Red-shouldered Hawk at Turtle Pond. It then went just south of the Obelisk (a.k.a. Cleopatra's Needle). After about twenty minutes it then went to Cedar Hill before we lost it. In searching for it we found Pale Male, America's most famous Red-tailed Hawk. I've included him in the pictures so, you can compare these two species from the same family.
Hawks don't spend much time on their nests outside of breading season, but they do make visits like one of the Fifth Avenue hawks did today. Later in the day, I saw a young hawk at 78th and Fifth on a communications dish above the French cultural center. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Pale Male and Octavia to kick the youngster out.
I first spotted Octavia (Pale Male's mate) on top of one of Fifth Avenue's ugliest buildings this afternoon, 1001 Fifth Avenue, "designed" if you can call it that, by the firm of Johnson/Burgee. She had the good taste to move to the Met's SE corner, and then the NE corner before I lost her as she flew around 86th Street and the East Drive at dusk. I think she might have a roost somewhere a few blocks north of the Met.
I caught up with Pale Male just north of the Obelisk on Sunday, and then a young Cooper's Hawk eating a bird a bit further north. Nice to see that are starting to get some visiting raptors to the park.
Today both Pale Male and Octavia were both at the northern reaches of their territory. Pale Male was on a building at 87th and Fifth, which has a nice view of the Reservoir and the birds migrating south. Today, that included a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks and two Bald Eagles. Octavia was up north as well and I found her perched on the north side of the Met. This northern area is full of food in the fall, with rodents eating apples near the Hamilton Statue, song birds that die due to collisions with the Temple of Dendur windows, and rodents on the Birdle Path south and east of the Reservoir.
Just a short video of Pale Male today on the "Oreo" Building, called this because it is brown with a white strip of bricks. Plus some photos of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It was nice to have some sunshine today!