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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