Thursday, September 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Christo & Dora edition

As summer is officially over, I've been doing a fall-cleaning of my photos from this last hawk season in Tompkins Square.  I came across several of Christo and Dora that I never posted as I was distracted by the antics of the baby hawks at the time.  So, here are a few I never got around to looking at until now.

This is Dora stretching on the cross of St Brigid's on Avenue B and 8th Street.

Dora

Christo flies in to join her.

Christo & Dora

Note how the color of his head is golden brown.  Dora has a darker head.

Christo & Dora

At this time, the three kids were still in the nest, so dad was probably headed back to them when he took off from the cross.

Dora & Christo

Christo hunting in the park:

Christo

Soaring Dora:

Dora

Taking another break on the cross, Christo is on the left and Dora is on the right.

Christo & Dora

Christo & Dora

Christo & Dora

Christo late in the evening:

Christo

Dora never gets very close to people in the park, so the photo below is about as close to her as I'm ever able to get.  She prefers to stay high in the trees, on top of buildings, fire escapes and church crosses.  If you see a hawk in the park perched low on a fence, the flagpole or chilling out in the birdbath, it's likely to be Christo.

Dora

Here she is on the roof of St Brigid's being mobbed by an angry mockingbird.

Dora mobbed by a mockingbird

Meanwhile, Christo gets harassed on his throne by a blue jay.

Christo harassed by a blue jay

Christo giving a pigeon a heart attack:

Christo the hawk tailgating a pigeon 

The pigeon was fine, but I'm sure it went home with a harrowing tale to tell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Quiet in the neighborhood with Christo and Dora

It's been a while since we've had an update on Christo and Dora.  There's not been much happening lately, but both hawks are hanging out in the neighborhood and in Tompkins Square.

Last Friday evening, I found Dora on one of her favorite perches at Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street.

Dora

Dora

As I watched, she took off and headed north on Avenue A where she stirred up some pigeons at 6th Street, then disappeared over the buildings.

Dora

About an hour later, Christo made an appearance atop his flagpole in the park.

Christo

Note his spiffy new feathers!

Christo

He cried out several times and I could hear a faint answer in the distance.  When I looked up, I could just barely see Dora soaring up in the stratosphere.  I wish I knew what they were saying to each other.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Summer butterflies

“Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

-- Hans Christian Andersen

Black Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail

Black swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Red Admiral
Red Admiral

Monarch
Monarch

Monarch

Monarch

Monarch

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 3

First, a quick Tompkins Square hawk update:  On Sunday, September 11, I saw Christo catch a starling at the St Mark's entrance to the park.  A few days before, some fellow hawk-watchers saw Christo with a fledgling, who was begging for food.  Dora is often seen on her usual perch on the dome of Most Holy redeemer church on E 3rd Street.  Other than that, there's not been much happening.

Last week, I posted some highlights of kestrel fledglings on the Lower East Side from this last spring.  Now it's time to give their parents some love.

Here is one happy couple in their leisure time.  The female is on the right and the male is on the left.

Kestrel pair

This other female kestrel catches an ovenbird, which she'll deliver to her kids back in the nest.

Female kestrel with prey

Female kestrel with prey

Meanwhile, this male catches a sparrow and waits for his mate to come and get it.

Male kestrel with food

She flies in and they do a quick food-exchange.

Female kestrel grabs food from male

She then flies the dinner back to the nest, which is a hole in the cornice of a building.

Female kestrel feeds chicks

Yet another male catches another sparrow...

Male kestrel with sparrow

...and delivers it to his nestlings.

Male kestrel delivers sparrow to nest

This male takes a break after an afternoon of food deliveries.

Verizon's new mascot 

I was able to watch four nesting kestrel pairs on the Lower East Side this last spring.  Although I didn't spend nearly as much time with them as I did the hawks in Tompkins Square, I still learned a lot from them.  They work tirelessly to feed their young, and just watching them can be exhausting.  All four kestrel pairs double-brooded in different locations and produced more than twenty offspring between them.  I don't know where they find the energy!

Previously:

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 2

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 1

Kestrelmania 2015

Thursday, September 8, 2016

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 2

Here are a few more highlights of young kestrels on the Lower East Side.  All photos were taken this last spring.

This is a male fledgling during his first hour outside the nest.

Male kestrel fledgling

Three siblings taking turns at the window...

Kestrel chicks

Two chicks waiting for a food delivery...

Baby kestrels

Two more chicks looking very serious...

Baby kestrels

The young kestrels often end up on fire escapes.  If you see one there, it's best to leave it alone as it's learning to fly and the parents are watching over it. 

Male flegling kestrel

Male kestrel fledgling goes exploring

Male kestrel fledgling

I'm king of the world!

I'm king of the world!

Stay tuned...


Previously:

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 1

Kestrelmania 2015

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016 Kestrel highlights - Part 1

I've dedicated all my posts to hawks over the last several months, but now that there's a lull in hawk activity, it's a good time to catch up on Lower East Side kestrels.

As kestrel populations are in decline, I'm happy to see so many in the city (they're everywhere) and was very pleased to note the ones I casually observed this last spring seemed to do very well.  Of four known pairs, all of them double brooded (in different locations) and they produced over 20 offspring between them.  It would be nice to have a scientific study done to document these tiny raptors in the city as I don't know that much about them.  I've seen them eating mice, sparrows, and large insects, so it would be helpful to know how things like insecticide and rodenticide affect them.

Kestrels are cavity dwellers and like to nest in places like the cornices of old tenement buildings.  As the city loses these old buildings and replaces them with featureless glass ones, will this mean we also lose these beautiful little falcons?  Perhaps nesting boxes could be placed in strategic locations.

Male kestrel fledgling

Above is a male kestrel who had just fledged his nest about an hour before the photo was taken.  He still has some white baby down on his head.  He and his siblings (this family had five kids) used the fire escapes as safe platforms for learning to fly.

Male kestrel fledgling

This guy was very hesitant to take the big leap.  When he finally did, his first instinct was to grab onto the closest wall.

Baby's second flight

Baby's second flight

When he couldn't hang onto the wall, he was forced to flap his wings and fly to the next available platform, which was across the street.

Baby's second flight

Again, trying to find a perch on some bricks where there was no foothold.

Male kestrel fledgling grips the wall

Arrrrg!

Male kestrel fledgling clinging to wall

Finally, the young kestrel took another big flight across the street.  This time, he crash-landed onto an air-conditioner, which would have been fine, except a couple of pigeons already laid claim to it.  They were not happy to have him invade their turf.

Male kestrel fledgling and a big scary pigeon

The distraught kestrel screamed at the big scary pigeons...

Male kestrel fledgling and a big scary pigeon

This was probably the only time these pigeons were able to intimidate a falcon!

Male kestrel fledgling and pigeon

Male kestrel fledgling screams at a pigeon

The battle went on for about 15 minutes as the pigeons dove at the kestrel and he tried to get away by climbing the window screen.  The funny thing was, eventually, all three birds fell asleep!  As it was near sunset, the pigeons went to roost. The one on the sill turned its head to the corner and took a nap.  The kestrel just zonked out on the a/c for a while.

Male kestrel fledgling with two pigeons

He woke up re-energized and took another big flight across the street where he roosted safely on a pigeon-less fire escape.

Male kestrel fledgling

Stay tuned for more 2016 kestrel highlights.

See 2015 Kestrel highlights here.

You can get involved with recording data on kestrels by visiting the Peregrine Fund.