Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tompkins native fledgling steals the spotlight

Flatbush, the adopted hawk fledgling in Tompkins Square, has been receiving a lot of attention since his arrival on June 14.  For a few days after fledgling the nest, the native baby hawk, Ten, stayed high in the trees where she was difficult to see.  Over the weekend, however, she took center stage. 

Hello!

Tompkins fledgling #1

All the photos below are from June 24.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Ten not only drew the attention of people, but also the ire of a blue jay, who wasn't happy about her presence.  The jay mobbed her relentlessly until she left the tree.

Fledgling red-tail mobbed by blue jay

The fledgling came to the ground to play with a smelly dead squirrel.  She practiced pouncing on it and other toys in the grass. 

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

After playing in the grass for several minutes, Ten made an unexpected flight up to a fence along 7th Street.

Tompkins fledgling #1

She then flew to another fence near the park entrance and seemed totally oblivious to the person who was already standing there.  The fledglings haven't learned to fear people yet, and it always makes me nervous seeing them get so close to people, but this person didn't move a muscle and just let the hawk do her thing.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

As it was dinner time, Christo brought Ten her evening meal.  However, rather than delivering a dead or partial rodent/pigeon, Christo brought her a whole live rat.  He didn't stick around to 'prepare' it for her, so she was on her own to figure out what to do with it.

Baby's first live prey

As far as I know, this was the first live meal for the fledgling and she didn't hesitate to prepare it herself. Not only was this a milestone for her, it also showed how Christo knows when the fledglings are ready to manage their food.  Earlier on this same day, Christo fed Flatbush by mouth, so he knows how to care for each kid and what developmental stage they're at.

Around 9pm, well after sunset, Ten flew off to roost and Christo and Dora took over the dinner table.  Christo brought in a partial pigeon that the fledglings had dropped on the ground earlier in the day, and Dora finished off the rest of Ten's rat.  They enjoyed their left-overs side by side.

Christo & Dora have dinner together
Christo on the left, Dora on the right.

This reminded me of the 2014 season when Christo would deliver food to the Christodora nest throughout the day and Dora would dispose of the surplus by dropping the carcasses on the central lawn.  At the end of each day, they'd both go and scavenge the leftovers out of the grass.  They're a very organized and efficient pair.

More to come...




Monday, June 26, 2017

Sibling rivalry

The Tompkins Square hawk fledglings were very active this weekend and demonstrated some new skills. Flatbush seemed to find his wings on Sunday and made several short flights around the south side of the park, flying more that day than any other so far.  Both fledglings are still being fed by Christo, but Ten is quickly learning to be proactive about obtaining food.

This is Flatbush (note the leg band).  He still has a lot of white feathers around his eyes.

Tompkins fledgling #2

This is Ten.  Her face and head have become more brown. 

Tompkins fledgling #1

Late Saturday afternoon, Christo dropped some food off to Flatbush, who was perched in the tree over the bandshell area.  Ten decided she wouldn't wait for delivery and swooped in on Flatbush.  In the photo below, Flatbush mantles his food to defend against the interloper. 

Tompkins Square fledglings

You can also see a slight difference in the color of their tails.  Ten's is a lighter brown.

Tompkins Square fledglings

Flatbush successfully defended his dinner. 

Tompkins Square fledglings

We saw this behavior a year ago, when one fledgling from the 2016 nest tried to steal a mouse from its sibling.

Tompkins Square fledglings

Hawks are opportunistic, and will snatch a meal from someone else if the occasion presents itself.  Ten demonstrated the boldness she will need to successfully attain food, and Flatbush exhibited the defensive skills he will need to thwart thieves.

Tompkins Square fledglings

Here is some video of the aftermath as Ten whines to be fed and Flatbush eats his meal while mantling.




More to come...




Thursday, June 22, 2017

Christo & Dora's biological child is growing up fast

With all the attention Flatbush, the adopted Tompkins Square hawk fledgling has been getting, the hawklet who was born in the park deserves some love.  The last time I had a good look at the young hawk - I'm calling it Ten - it seemed a bit shy.

But take a look at Ten now!

Tompkins fledgling #1

The hawk is suddenly big, comparable to mom, Dora.  In fact, I mistook the fledgling for Dora when I saw it perched in a tree over the weekend.  Due to the large size, many are speculating the hawk is female.

Tompkins fledgling #1

On Sunday, after several days spent high in the trees, Ten came to the ground to play.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

She seems to have a lot of white feathers, while Flatbush has a thick brown belly band.  Their appearance could change in the next few weeks, but one way to tell them apart is by the metal leg band on Flatbush's left leg.  None of the other hawks are banded.

Late in the afternoon, Christo brought a rat to a dinner table branch and Ten wasted no time pouncing on it.

Christo passes a rat off to Fledgling #1

Below, the fledgling mantles the food as Christo side-steps off to the right. 

Christo moves aside as Fledgling #1 mantles rat

A closer look.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Nom nom nom!

Tompkins fledgling #1

Note her wide yellowish chest.  Both fledglings have this color and it will turn to white by the end of summer.

Tompkins fledgling #1

A short while later, Christo reappeared, but without food this time.  The arrival of dad and the possibility of another meal caught the fledgling's attention.

Christo & Fledgling #1

She quickly made a move on him, but he got out of the way.

Christo & Fledgling #1

Christo & Fledgling #1

She has been doing very well chasing after Christo, or going to him when he rings the dinner bell.  Her flying skills are looking great and I saw her zip around the park this evening.  I think she takes after Dora and will some day be a formidable bird.

Tompkins fledgling #1


You can see more recent hawk photos on my Flickr page.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tompkins foster hawk endures storms, meets the neighbors

It's been a week since fledgling hawk Flatbush was introduced to Tompkins Square, and he's doing very well.  He's had to adjust to a completely new environment, learn to navigate his way around trees, and is improving his flying skills.

After a hot and humid few days, the skies ripped open on Saturday and let out a drenching rain.  I went to the park to check on the young hawk and found him perched quietly in a tree, very alert and very wet.

Tompkins fledgling #2 in the rain

Here's some video. 



Just a few feet away, Christo was perched low in a tree looking worse for wear.  I think he was hunting, but I couldn't stick around in the pouring rain to find out.



The following day, Sunday, Christo was back to his usual glory.

Christo

I found Flatbush in the same tree where he rode out the storm.  He spent the afternoon practicing hop-flying from branch to branch.  His exercises were periodically interrupted by curious neighbors.

Tompkins fledgling #2 meets a squirrel

I saw at least three squirrels scamper right up to the hawk.  He's not a danger to them...yet!

Tompkins fledgling #2 meets a squirrel

Flatbush knows how to find the spotlight.

Tompkins fledgling #2

As the sun set, Christo visited the other fledgling (Ten) who was in a nearby tree, and dropped off dinner.  This got Flatbush excited and he kept making short flights from branch to branch.  At one point, he took off and left the tree.  But instead of going towards the other fledgling, as I thought he would, he flew in the opposite direction and landed in the ginkgo tree which housed last year's nest.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2 

This is where he spent the night.  The following day, Monday, there was another big rainstorm and Flatbush hunkered down in the tree.  I went out to see him (along with a few other dedicated hawk-watchers) to make sure he was ok.  He was fine, as was the other fledgling, who was perched high in a tree on the west side of the park.

The next post will feature the other fledgling, who has come a long way in the last week.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tompkins foster fledgling meets his fans

The previous post ended with Flatbush, the Tompkins Square foster hawk fledgling, making himself at home on the central lawn last Friday afternoon.  That is where we pick up here.

Late in the afternoon, the young hawk enjoyed exploring the landscaping.

Tompkins fledgling #2

And running around on the grass.

Tompkins fledgling #2 running around

There are currently signs posted around the central lawn that stay to keep off the grass because of seeding.  Another reason is that the hawk fledglings are at the age where they will run around on the ground and play with sticks and other objects.  They're like toddlers and it's perfectly normal.  Please take note and keep unleashed dogs out of the area.  On this day, a woman let out two terriers onto the central lawn and I nearly had a heart attack.  At the time, Flatbush was in the redwood tree, but if he'd come to the ground, he would not have had a chance against the dogs.

Tompkins fledgling #2 running around

After doing a few laps around the lawn, Flatbush made several attempts to get back up into the redwood tree, but couldn't quite make it.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Instead, he took a running leap off the sledding hill and catapulted himself up on to the fence near the dog run.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Ta-da!

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2

He stayed on the fence for over an hour and attracted a crowd of admirers.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2

Here's some video:



Tompkins fledgling #2

It's tempting to get really close to the hawks when they perch so low, but please make sure to give them some space. 

Tompkins fkedgking #2

The fledglings still don't know how to fly that well and they need plenty of room to take off.  They are wild birds and are not tame.  They will not respond to calls or land on your arm (which would likely require an ER visit!).  Christo often perches on the fences, benches and birdbaths, but he is not being friendly.  He is being tolerant and trusting - tolerant of our presence and he trusts that we will not interfere with his hunting.  Dora is not so trusting, and she keeps her distance.

As it was nearly dark (around 9pm), and Flatbush was still stumbling around on the fences, Ranger Rob took him to a big tree on the east side of the park so he'd have a safe place to roost for the night. 

Tompkins fkedgking #2

This hawk is being looked after very well by caring people, and by Christo and Dora. As of this evening (June 20), he was well fed and perched high in a tall tree.

More to come...