More Grand Army Plaza News

While walking through Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan (59th and Fifth), I heard the male crying that he had food.  I couldn't find him, but heard him on the The Plaza Hotel.  He went down 58th and around the corner down Fifth, circling before landing on the roof of Bergdorf Goodman's.  He then circled and circled before landing on a very high building roof at 55th and Fifth.  He left the pigeon there before spending about ten minutes circling 9 West 57th.

I haven't seen the female for about a week.  Where, oh where is the nest!

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Grand Army Plaza

There have been hawks for years around Central Park South.  They've nested on the Trump Parc building and 888 Seventh Avenue with success.  Over the last few years, the Crown Building and the Plaza Hotel a bit further east have been where we thought there might be nests, but haven't been sure.

Today, I caught up with the current pair.  I heard the male, who looks young, cry out the "Honey, I have leftovers" call.  (She never responded.)  With the city being so quiet, I was able to find him on a third floor window of The Plaza Hotel.  He finished eating, and then started to attack his own reflection in the window, before getting caught in some pigeon spikes and then flying off.

He then made a number of loops around Grand Army Plaza, and perched on The Crown Building, the building at 58th and Fifth that has the Bergdorf's Mens Store, and 9 West 57th.  The female was perched there.  They both took off, but returned to 9 West 57th and copulated.

Like the last few years, no clue about the possible nest location.

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Crown Building

Today, while at the Pond at the Southeast corner of Central Park, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk with a branch, fly up to the Crown Building at 57th and Fifth.  It went to a balcony railing, jumped down to a terrace, and then flew around the building.  It wasn't clear where the twig was left.  The hawk then went to the Sherry-Netherland Hotel.

We've seen hawks here in the past, with nest attempts nearby on The Plaza hotel in years past.  But I've never seen fledglings in the park from this location.  Any reports from nearby office buildings would be appreciated.

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Sheep Meadow

Tonight I found both of the Sheep Meadow hawks in different trees on the east side of Sheep Meadow.  They have built a new nest in the same stand of trees as the old nest, but in the Northwestern most tree in the group.  It doesn't look like the nest is ready for use yet, and the female did not spend the night in the nest.  It will be interesting to see if they end up using this new nest or use another location, possibly a building on Central Park South.  For now, we just have to wait and see what happens.


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Southern Central Park Raptors

I spent the weekend trying to figure out what was happening with our three pairs of hawks in Central Park. 

  • The Sheep Meadow pair continue to be seen in the SE corner of the park, but don't seem to have settled on a nesting location just yet.
  • The pair that tried to nest on the Beresford last year, are bringing twigs to the Beresford and San Remo this year.
  • Pale Male and Octavia are doing just fine.  Pale Male gave Octavia a long break on Sunday afternoon.
  • A Merlin was a nice extra bonus near the band shell.

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Noisy Sheep Meadow Youngster

Around this time of year, we sometimes end up with noisy youngsters begging for food endlessly when their parents have decided it's time for the youngsters to hunt on their own.

Tonight, it was a Sheep Meadow youngster who was making a racket just north of Tavern on the Green in a nice protected playground that is undergoing renovation.  The pictures are of the youngster and his/her father.


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Sheep Meadow

The Sheep Meadow nest had all three youngsters exploring the nest tree today.  Their mother cam in with a pigeon and tried to get them to come to her to get the food.  See waited twenty minutes before giving up.  As soon as she put it in the nest, one eyass came in and ate. 


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Sheep Meadow, Same Tree

All three juveniles were in the nest tree this evening.  If I hadn't seen one yesterday in a tree to the south, I wouldn't believe a fledge had occurred the day before!  One stayed on the nest, but the other two were out on branches most of the time.  They all were having a nice relaxed day.  Unlike one of the fledglings downtown.


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Sheep Meadow Fledge

The first fledgling is off the nest at Sheep Meadow in Central Park. A trip from the nest to a fence and back to a nearby tree. While I was there, there was an eyass on the nest, a bird branching (exploring the limbs on the nest tree), a parent watching everyone, and the fledgling.  Somehow, the rain held off long enough for me to photograph all of them.


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Sheep Meadow Before The Storm

I was able to get some photographs before the rain came tonight.  I tired a Livestream broadcast as well, but the eyasses went to sleep as soon as I started.  The joys of trying to feed live!

(Just for the record, the later part of the Pale Male Irregulars post on May 26th about a Sheep Meadow hawk is pure fantasy.  The hawk in the photographs is the adult female of the Sheep Meadow pair, not the male.)


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Rewarding Sheep Meadow Views

For the first time this season, I left the Sheep Meadow nest feeling like I had gotten a great view of the eyasses, rather than fleeing glances.

The only sour note of the day was a gentleman who wanted to fly a small helicopter next to the nest.  This is the eight time within the last year, I've seen folks with model helicopters in the park.  The Park Regulations clearly ban them, (ยง1-05 Regulated Uses, r, 2) "No person shall engage in any toy or model aviation, kite-flying, model boating or model automobiling except at such times and at such places designated or maintained therefor.", with Manhattan having no approved model aviation areas.

Now that small drones and helicopters with remote cameras are under $400, it would be good to see these restrictions made clearer by the Parks Department.  Beyond the obvious safety concerns for humans and the hawks, these new drones can be very noisy and are not appropriate for use in quiet zones like the Sheep Meadow.  I would encourage anyone who likes to write letters, to send a note to the Parks Commissioner and request that restriction on model aviation be made more prominent in the Parks Department FAQs, provide refresher training to all Park Enforcement Patrol officers and ask the Central Park Conservancy to improve the signage at the Sheep Meadow, Great Lawn and North Meadow so as to remind park patrons of the restrictions.


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Still Tough To See

At Sheep Meadow, I was hoping for some easy views of the eyasses, but had no such luck.  I must have just missed a feeding and had sleepy, digesting eyasses in the nest.  I did have a few glimpses however.

While I was there the mother few off for a few minutes and was followed by a noisy Bluejay.  The male came in and got the Bluejay to follow him, so as to leave the female and the eyasses in peace.  Nice work Dad.


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Trio at Sheep Meadow

If I counted properly, we have three eyasses in the Sheep Meadow nest this year.  They were tough to see.  Their mother left unattended for a good period and then returned to a perch above them kept an eye on them for over an hour before returning to the nest.  She was also keeping an eye on the workers building a huge stage and sound systems for the AIDS Walk on Sunday.



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Sheep Meadow Has Hatched

I had visited the Sheep Meadow nest on Friday.  Except for the female being higher in the nest than normal, there was no sign of a hatch.  But today, after a visit by the male who seemed to be mesmerized by the contents of the nest, the female did a brief feeding.  It will be a few days before we can take "baby pictures", but it's great to see these hawks do well in their second year.

This year, the male has a strange tail feather.  While red in color it has stripes like a juvenile feather.  Something I've never seen before on a Red-tailed Hawk.


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Juveniles Red-tails

I saw four Juvenile Red-tails along with the Sheep Meadow adults around the rink and the Pond on Monday afternoon/evening.  It was a surprising number.

Past sunset, when I would have expected all of them to be roosting, one of the Juvenile hawks caught and ate a rat, well into the evening.  This is the latest I've ever seen a Red-tailed Hawk eat.


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Drying, Disco and a Diva

Tonight after an afternoon of birding the North Woods of Central Park without a camera, and after a break to avoid a thunderstorm, I caught up with one of the Sheep Meadow youngsters.

It was a simple encounter with a hawk drying it's feathers and then hunting.  (It had gotten to dark to photograph the capture of the rat which it caught after I had packed up for the night.)

The Salsa music of a few nights ago was replaced by roller-blading Disco, and at the end of the evening a singer who exploited the acoustics of the band shell.


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Rodent Dinner with Salsa

While many fledglings have started to disperse and leave their parents, the two Sheep Meadow fledglings seem in no rush to leave yet.

One of the fledglings, who loves to hunt around the band shell, caught a rodent and ate it to the sounds and sights of Salsa dancers enjoying a wonderful summer evening.

The video includes the entire footage of the rodent being consumed.


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Sheep Meadow Fledgling

I arrived at the Mall to find a crowd around one of the set of wooden benches that form a protective area.  Inside was one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings, having just caught a pigeon.  The hawks had to spend its time watching everyone who surrounded it eventually flew off to the north.

Struggling to find a good perch to eat the pigeon, it dropped in on to a crowded path.  It sat patiently to reclaim its meal, but there were too many people.  Eventually a hawk watcher moved the pigeon to a protected lawn, and the fledgling came down and ate the bird.

Many of the area's fledglings have already started to leave the area, so it was nice to see this youngster in late August.


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Where Are You?

Starting in late July, hawk watching in New York City becomes much harder.  Fledglings, who had been yelling for food, are now quiet having learned to hunt.  Warm weather has the hawks relaxing and staying put, making them harder to spot. And everyone, young and old have dispersed to wider and wider areas.  Gone are those nice spots the families came to for meals together at regular hours!

So on Saturday, I had my first hawk free day of the summer.  I didn't pick up a single hawk on a trip through Central Park.

This Sunday, I did find two hawks however.  Pale Male up at 86th and Fifth Avenue, and one of the Sheep Meadow fledglings at The Mall.


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Sheep Meadow Parent

I've missed the Sheep Meadow fledglings the last few times I've looked for them.  Tonight, I  missed them yet again, but I saw one of the parents for about an hour.

While watching the parent, I ran across folks who had seen both of the fledglings earlier in day.  I also ran into a couple who had photographed one of them on the railing of a flowerbed on Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street with their iPhone.  It was nice to know they were doing well, even if I didn't get to see them.


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Sheep Meadow Fledglings

I finally got a chance to visit Central Park today. 

My first stop was a look at the Peregrine Falcon nest, which yielded nothing. It was unclear if the birds had fledged or were sleeping.  I suspect they've fledged, but will need to make another trip back to be sure.

Then it was off to Sheep Meadow to look for the fledglings.  I always suspected they would hang out among the fenced off American Elms along the Mall, and that's exactly where I found them.  Both were in the same tree one on a lower branch and one on a higher branch.  They were very relaxed and looked healthy and well fed.


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Branching Begins At Sheep Meadow

On Sunday at Sheep Meadow, when I arrived it looked like one of the eyasses had fledged.  After about twenty minutes, however it became apparent that there were still two eyasses in the tree, and one had learned to go out on the branches.

Branching is common in tree nests, but I've become so accustomed to building nests, I had forgotten to give the tree a good going over before assuming we had had a fledge!  I think the eyasses hatched around May 1st, so we should have a fledge by the weekend.


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Sheep Meadow Just About Ready

This is also from Friday afternoon.  Two healthy eyasses looking like they will fledge within the week.  It's so nice to have a tree nest to watch in Central Park!

(Despite the soundtrack of the video, beer sales and alcohol consumption in Central Park is prohibited but the regulation is randomly enforced.)


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Sheep Meadow After The Rain

I got to see lots of wet hawks on my visit to Sheep Meadow Saturday afternoon.  The eyasses are growing up and are no longer white puff balls.  The parents were off drying in the sun on a tree on the north side of the meadow. 

The biggest surprise for me was the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon.  I had seen this hawk here in the spring, but assumed it was a migrant.  I was presently surprised to learn it was a Central Park resident, nesting on 25 Central Park West.


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Sheep Meadow - Back To Normal

The Sheep Meadow hawks seemed to be more relaxed on Monday with most of the AIDS walk equipment already having been removed and the noise level back to normal.  Parades on Fifth Avenue, Graduations in Washington Square and Charity Walks starting in Sheep Meadow are all things urban birds must put up with now and then.  It's part of living in New York City.


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Testing 1, 2, 3

The Sheep Meadow hawks are having to put up with a great deal of commotion this weekend.  Not only was the meadow full of people, the stage and launch area for the AIDS Walk NYC was 100 feet from them.

These hawks, who built there nest in the winter when the Sheep Meadow was locked for the season, must have had a great surprise when they discovered this spring they had chosen one of the busiest areas in the park for their nest site.

Luckily, the eyasses will be safe in their tree, even if there is a lot of noise.  Plus when they fledge, they will always be able to play on the lawn on the Mall next door, which is permanently closed since it contain one of the last large urban stands of American Elms in the northeast of the US.


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Sheep Meadow

Although it started to rain while I was in the Meadow, I got some great views of the two eyasses.  In addition to a feeding, I got to see the mother attend to a number of pin feathers on one of the eyasses.

Unfortunately, the day was interrupted by a Conservancy employee who was insistent that my tripod was in some way damaging the Sheep Meadow lawn.  A quick phone call to the park's Directory of Community Relations ([email protected]) resolved the matter. 

Unfortunately other photographers weren't so lucky earlier in the week. They had been forced to stop photographing the hawks by other Conservancy employees. 

The behavior of these employees proved to me that there is a systemic bias against photographers in the Central Park Conservancy that flows from senior management down to the most junior employees.

When this ends up in court, which at this point I'm almost certain it will, it's going to be fun watching the Conservancy try and prove that a camera tripod with a DSLR and attached telephoto lens could do any damage to the Sheep Meadow lawn.  If the lawn is that fragile, no one should be allowed to picnic on it!


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Two Heads Are Better Than One

A visit after work to the Sheep Meadow nest let me discover that the nest has two eyasses, rather than the single eyass that I had seen earlier.  It was great to watch them get fed, and see the mother give up on an old rodent and have it quickly replaced by a fresh kill by the father.

The video is about twenty minutes long but includes a very tender feeding of the two eyasses.


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Central Park South

The southern part of Central Park has been a mystery this year.  Sightings of two new hawks, plus Pale Male and Octavia in the southern part of the park have made it difficult to figure out what's going on.

While I didn't believe it at first, was there is strong evidence that Octavia may have been spending time with both males, so we may have had only three hawks.

Since Octavia has begun sitting on the nest uptown, observers have only seen a single hawk down at Central Park South.  So, the question I've been trying to answer is does this hawk have a brooding mate in a nest we haven't found or was what we assumed to be two pairs in late February and early March actually just three hawks?

I didn't discover the answer on Wednesday but had fun trying!


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Central Park Hawks

Today was a nice day in Central Park.  I had the two Red-tailed hawks trying to establish a nest on CPW, (now working on a nest on 322 CPW.)  Then a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the American Museum of Natural History followed by Sharp-shinned Hawk in the Evodia Field. 

My next stop was Fifth Avenue, where Octavia is now brooding.  Pale Male was tending to the nest (rearranging twigs as is his habit) and she returned to the nest.

A quick walk down to Central Park South uncovered one Red-tailed hawk there. Seven hawks, not too bad for a brief afternoon visit to the park.


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Plaza Hotel Pair

There looks to be some question as to whether the Plaza Hotel pair might be Pale Male and Octavia building a secondary nest. 

Looking at the photographs I've taken over the last two days, these look like a new pair to my eyes. Both the male and female look different than Pale Male and Octavia.

(Certainly, this pair has ventured up to Pale Male's territory over the last few weeks and it might be one of the Central Park South hawks that was mistaken for Octavia up north.  This would explain matching field marks.)

The Plaza Hotel pair also have a nest on the Crown Building.  It is in a better location from the Plaza, but sadly out of view from the street.  I hope they nest on the Plaza, but if they don't we won't be able to see the eyasses for some time.


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Hanky Panky On The Plaza

The Central Park South pair copulated on the Plaza Hotel late this afternoon.  The female was about twenty feet from the nest, and the male flew in and copulated with her.  He quickly left and flew due west.  She followed at dusk about twenty minutes later.  I walked over in the general direction they flew, but didn't find either of the hawk's roosts for the evening.


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The Plaza Hotel - A New Red-tailed Nest

The Roger Paw Blog reported on January 9th that a new Red-tailed Hawk nest is being established on The Plaza Hotel at Central Park South. 

This evening, at dusk while I was watching two Black Crowned Night Herons (one adult and one immature), and hundreds of Common Grackles come home to roost, I saw one the Red-tails at the nest site.  The Red-tailed Hawk stayed on the nest for about ten minutes and then went off to roost.

Hats off to the Roger Paw Blog for such excellent reporting!  Finding a new nest site, this early in the season, is hard work.


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Two Hawk Mothers

Lola and Charlotte are the nicknames given two female hawks around Central Park who have been mothers in the past.   Both hawks were getting ready for the next nesting season on Sunday

Lola, the lighter of the two hawks, was busy soaring around the Fifth Avenue nest and working on tidying it up.  She will most likely lay eggs mid-March.

Charlotte, who nests at 888 Seventh Avenue, was seen eating a pigeon and chasing of a juvenile hawk up at the Sheep Meadow.  She generally lays eggs a few weeks after Lola.

Both females have had nesting issues these last few years.  May they both have a successful year in 2010.


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Manhattan Nests

From north to south, we have the following confirmed nesting sites in Manhattan this year:  Inwood Hill Park, Highbridge Park (back to the old location, which should be safer than last year's location), Lower Riverside Park (also in a new and safer location), Fifth Avenue and 888 Seventh Avenue.  I visited all of them this weekend.  They all seem to be in good shape, with chicks expected within the next few weeks.

Some nests have changed from last year. 

There is no sign of a nest below 14th Street, although there have been reports of hawks downtown all winter, including Tompkins Square Park, the World Trade Center construction site, the Court Houses around Center Street, Seward Park, Washington Square Park and the Greenway.

Last year's nest on Houston Street is not being used again this year.  The male from last year's nest died of Fronce and while hawks have been seen on the Lower East Side all winter, no signs of a new nest has been found.

The St. John the Divine's pair have both been seen recently but further uptown.  Construction continues on the church and they may have moved but no one has found a new nest location.  This one is a real mystery.

The Shepard Hall, City College nest looks bigger according to reports, but nest looks unoccupied.  The hawks may be nesting somewhere nearby.

Here are pictures of four nests from this weekend:

Inwood Hill Park

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Continue reading "Manhattan Nests" »


Riverside and Broadway

I spent the early afternoon looking at the Riverside Red-tailed Hawk pair on Saturday.  There nest is just off the Hudson River near 8st Street and looks great.  Last year they laid eggs around mid-March, so the female should start sitting on the nest soon.

Other nests in Manhattan are doing well.  Inwood Hill Park, Highbridge Park, St. John the Divine and 5th Avenue nests are doing fine.  The Highbridge nest is back to its old spot.

The Central Park South pair is still there but I don't have any details about their nest.  The Houston female lost her mate last year, and may be nesting on the ConEd plant around 14th Street.  The pair that was around the City College campus remains a mystery.

Sightings of hawks this winter around the north end of Riverside Park and around the Court House buildings on Center Street make these locations possibilities for new nests this year.

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When leaving Riverside Park, check out the American Kestrels that have a scrape at 80th and Broadway.  One of them is usually on the building south of Zabar's or on the church at 79th and Broadway.
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Young vs. Established

The young hawk I had seen yesterday was in the same general area today.  I first saw it around the playgrounds north of Tavern on the Green, and then on a C.P.W. building around 68th Street.   Then it took off towards the Heckscher Ball Fields.  When I caught up with the hawk, it had just finished up eating and was cleaning its beak.

Then I spotted Charlotte, the female hawk from Central Park South, on one of the Ball Fields.  She took off towards the young hawk's tree with some prey.

The young hawk left, but ended up moving to a number of trees around the Ball Fields as Charlotte ate.  I could not figure out all of the dynamics, but something was surely going on between the two of them.

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St. John's, Riverside and 888 Seventh Avenue Updates

The Cathedral of St. John as started a waterproofing project and put up scaffolding all around the nest.  While the work will be away from the nest, it is close by.  The timing of this project couldn't be worse, with egg laying in mid-March and hatching in April.  It will be interesting to watch this situation develop.  I'm afraid that the hawks might end up attaching workers if they get too close to an active nest later in the Spring.

James O'Brien has more photographs of the St. John's scaffolding, as well as news of similar repairs on Riverside Church on his blog.

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I've also gotten news of the 888 Seventh Avenue nest from Brett Odom, who has a view of the nest from his office.

"I just wanted to let you know that while I have not witnessed any copulation activities between Junior and Charlotte.  I can confirm that they have greatly increased their visits to the 888 7th Ave. nest site.  Until the last several days I could go weeks between sightings, but recently I have seen them visit the nest several times a day."


The Whole Family

On Monday evening, the 888 Seventh Avenue family was located around the Mall (a long walkway with American Elms and statues of famous writers) in Central Park.  The juvenile was begging for food, but you could tell her parents knew she was already doing just fine hunting on her own. 

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The female and the male were in the same tree when I saw them.  She's on the left and he's on the right.

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The male, who had gotten tangled in some pigeon spikes on Central Park South on Saturday, looked just fine which was excellent news.

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The juvenile came into a nearby tree.

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The juvenile then moved to a street light at the northeast corner of the Sheep Meadow.

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It begged for a few minutes.  But it's too old for its parents to be feeding her, so her requests fell on deaf ears.

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She circled around the area and end up on a street lamp across the street from the one she had been on.

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Her father was in a nearby tree.

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He flew off.  By this time, it was too dark to keep tracking them.


She's Back

The 888 juvenile was back in Central Park on Sunday.  She was first discovered in Columbus Circle and then went on a hunting trip catching two mice and keeping three photographers on their toes as she flew around the park.  She's no longer staying in one place, but enjoys moving around.

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I missed seeing her in Columbus Circle, but caught up to her as she flew to the southwest corner of the park.

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She moved east.

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Her band number allows me to be sure it's the 888 juvenile.

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She's off again, moving to a tree by the Pond and then back west to a tree near Cop Cot.

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She then catches a small mouse by the wall on Central Park South, just across the street from the Essex House.

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She makes quick work of this snack sized mouse.

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Then it's off to an area just north of the South Drive around Seventh Avenue.

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She has what looks to be some food, possibly something she's cached.

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Then a small war begins.  This squirrel whose den is at the end of the tree, decides to protect its branch.

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The squirrel is amazingly aggressive.  The squirrel tries to bite the juvenile, so she flies off quickly but then returns to the tree branch.

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So, this is why you're worried.

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After a stand off, the squirrel come out again.

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This stand off ended in an amazing way.  The juvenile dropped from the tree to catch a mouse.  How it kept track of the squirrel and the mouse at the same time, I'll never know.

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It caught the mouse, even while being distracted by the squirrel.

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After finishing her meal, she was off again.

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By this time, I felt like I had been run around the park too much and gave up on tracking her.  It's nice to have her back.


888 Seventh Avenue Adults

The 888 fledgling hasn't been seen for a few days, but its parents have been around their normal hunts.  On Monday night they were on top of 15 Central Park West looking into expensive apartments and then roosting for the night.

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The adult female.

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The adult male.

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The adult female who moves from her perch to the workman's elevator rigging, and then to...

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her roost for the night.  She's on the left and the male on the right.


Saturday Hawks

Saturday Hawk watching started at the Beresford.

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Lola was to the left of her normal perch on the window.  I then made it to the southwestern tip of the park.

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The female adult of the 888 Seventh Avenue pair was on the north tower of the Time-Warner building.

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and her mate was just inside the park.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult male.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult male.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult male.

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The female comes down to join him and ends up catching a small mouse.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult female.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult female.

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The 888 Seventh Avenue adult female.  No high roosts tonight.  They slept in trees near Columbus Circle.