Thursday, June 23, 2016

Learning to (not) share

This week, the Tompkins Square hawk fledglings have been exploring the east side of the park and are starting to pick up some hunting skills.  They don't seem to be in a hurry to fly very far from home base, but I think that's a good thing as there is no rush to go anywhere.  In past years, there seemed to be some urgency to get them out of the nest (on air-conditioners) and move them to safer areas, away from busy streets.  This time around, they've had the luxury of branching and exploring trees at their own pace while their parents (namely Christo) bring them food. 

As I passed a tree, I felt some eyes on me...

Tompkins Square fledgling

This fledgling was perched on a low branch, intensely watching squirrels run around on the ground.

Tompkins Square fledgling

One of their new favorite perches is this rooftop on the east side of Avenue B.  It's the highest point along that block, so the hawks probably have a good view of the neighborhood from up there.

Kids on the roof

I've not been able to get all three siblings in one shot to get a good look at them and compare them to each other, but you can see some differences in these two.  The one on the left has a fairly pale chest and light colored head, while the one on the right is more colorful and is significantly larger.  Other observers also noted its size, so we speculated it could be a female. 

Kids on the roof

Later, two of the fledglings practiced grabbing things from the ground and carrying them off.

Tompkins Square fledgling

Christo left a dead pigeon on the ground and this fledgling flew down and nabbed it.

Fledgling with dinner

It was a pretty big pigeon and looked a bit heavy for the hawk to manage. 

Fledgling with dinner

It couldn't quite make it up and over a fence, and ended up dropping the pigeon on the path. Christo circled over the dropped food and I wondered if he'd retrieve it, as he did on Sunday, but he opted to perch in a nearby tree and think about it for a while. 

He must have decided to abandon it - or, perhaps encourage the kid to go back and get it - as he caught a tiny mouse and gave that to the fledgling instead.  When the mouse was delivered, a second fledgling flew in to share.

Someone is jealous...

But, the first kid was not interested in sharing.

Battle for a mouse

Battle for a mouse

Gimme some!

Battle for a mouse

Battle for a mouse

The fledgling with the mouse gulped it down as the other hawk (left) sulked.  If it really wanted to, it could go get that dropped pigeon that was within sight of their perch.  As it was getting dark, I couldn't stick around to find out what happened next.

Siblings

See more recent hawk photos here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All three Tompkins Square hawk fledglings doing well

This evening, I was finally able to see all three Tompkins Square hawk fledglings together in one place outside the nest.  I was beginning to get nervous as I was previously only able to see two at a time, and Christo and Dora's kids have been known to get into trouble in the past.  But, so far this season, the kids are well behaved and are sticking to the east side of the park.

The fledglings are discovering the other residents of the park, like these two blue jays, who weren't so welcoming.

Fledgling hawk bullied by two blue jays

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

One of the fledglings waits in the Feeding Tree as Christo arrives with a small rat.

Christo brings a mouse to his kid

You can see some differences between the kid and its dad below.  Christo (right) has a very light colored head and brown eyes, while the fledgling has darker brown coloring and yellowish eyes.  You can't tell from this angle, but they are approximately the same size.

Christo and one of his kids

Christo and one of his kids

This kid didn't seem interested in the rat, but a second fledgling (far right) showed up to snatch it away.

Dad calls fledglings to lunch

Later, a little flight across the lawn...

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

The markings on this one are clearly visible here.  This fledgling has lost most of the peachy coloring on its chest, and its legs are heavily spotted.

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

The kids are not yet able to hunt and catch food themselves, but this one has mastered the stern predator stare.

Tompkins Square fledgling 

The above photos are all from Saturday, June 18.  There are more to come...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day with Christo

All the Tompkins Square hawk fledglings seem to be out of the nest.  To date, I've only been able to confirm the location of two fledglings at a time, and I'm not sure if they are the same or different individuals each time I see them, so I can't really say if/when the last hawk kid left the nest.  This last Saturday, all five family members were seen at the nest around dinner time, but on Sunday, it appeared the nest might be empty.

While Christo had been feeding the kids in the nest for some time, he fed them lunch and dinner in different locations on Sunday.

He called two fledglings to the large elm just across the path from the ginkgo tree (that houses the nest) to the north.  The tree has a couple of large branches that work well for a dinner table and are low enough for people to get a good view.  The meal was pigeon.  The kid picked at it, then decided it would rather play around in the tree rather than eat lunch.

Tompkins Square fledgling

One of the other kids went exploring across the street on the rooftops along Avenue B.

Tompkins Square fledgling

Back in the park, Christo appeared at the Feeding Tree, looking very dashing on this Father's Day.

Christo on Father's Day

He flew off, then quickly returned with a mouse.

Christo with a mouse

He took the mouse to the roof of St Brigid's where one of the fledglings (left) waited to be fed.

Tompkins Fledgling with dad Christo

Without prepping the meal, Christo dropped it off for the fledgling to retrieve.

Tompkins Fledgling with mouse

It gobbled it down in just a couple of bites.

Tompkins Fledgling with mouse

Meanwhile, in a tree near the handball courts, one of the siblings patiently waited for food.

Tompkins Square fledgling

By this time, a couple of hours had passed since the first fledgling had passed up the pigeon.  Christo returned to the uneaten meal, plucked it some more, then took it to the tree where the above fledgling was perched.  Something happened in the transfer, and the pigeon ended up falling down to the path below.  A crowd gathered and watched as the fledgling hawk looked down at the pigeon, and Christo watched the whole scene from the locust tree on the south side of the path.

One person, who likely had good intentions, picked up the pigeon and dangled it below the fledgling.

The hawks are not tame.  They will not come to you.

This, however, is not the right thing to do.  The hawks are wild animals - they are not tame - and they will not come when called, eat out of your hand, or land on your arm.  A dispute broke out in the crowd about this, as several people told the man to drop the pigeon.  Eventually, he did, but it was in the middle of the path where it was likely to be trampled.

While the drama played out below, the fledgling in the tree decided to chase after a squirrel.

Tompkins Square fledgling chases a squirrel

Tompkins Square fledgling chases a squirrel

Tompkins Square fledgling investigates a squirrel

As the dead pigeon was in a bad location, a good Samaritan picked it up and moved it to the other side of the fence, closer to where Christo perched.  After a few minutes. Christo began swooping over the area.  I really didn't think he'd go back for the pigeon after all that, but he sure looked interested.  However, there were still so many people around, he may have been nervous and flew off towards Avenue A.

After a few more minutes, the crowd had mostly dispersed and Christo returned.  To my surprise, he retrieved the pigeon and took it to a fledgling who was waiting in the big elm to the west of the ginkgo.  At this point, I really didn't know if this was the same fledgling who had been by the handball courts, or a different one.

Dad delivers dinner

Dad delivers dinner

After dropping off dinner, Christo took off and the fledgling toyed with its food.

Toying with dinner

It pecked at it, but slowly scooched away from it.  After all Christo's hard work, the kid wouldn't eat!

Why won't my dinner pluck itself? 

My theory is the young hawks are expecting dad to tear up their food for them.  Swallowing a mouse is easy, but a big pigeon steak requires more preparation and they need to learn to do this themselves.

Anyway, it was wonderful and educational to watch the whole feeding sequence.  Christo is a great provider and he's taking good care of his kids.

**Note about trees - Michael Natale of Tompkins Trees put together this great map of all the trees in the Tompkins Square Park.  I've used it to identify the trees mentioned in this blog.

Monday, June 13, 2016

More fledgling photos from Sunday

As of today, we still cannot be sure the third Tompkins Square hawk has fledged.  My gut feeling is that it has not, but all three hawks have been spending a lot of time on and around the nest, up in the ginkgo tree.  As the first two fledges keep returning to the nest to eat, it's not really possible beyond this point for me to be able to tell the difference between the individuals.

On Sunday, however, I am 99% sure Fledgling #1 was out and about on the east side of the park.  I compared the chest markings with those of the hawk that fledged to the church, and they do seem to be different.  This particular hawk also demonstrated confidence flying between the nest and nearby trees.

 Tompkins Square fledgling

Learning to fly is hard work - time for a nap!

Nap time

Time to explore...

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

The fledgling found a squirrel nest near the dog run.  No one was home, so it laid down in the nest and had another nap.

Exploring a squirrel nest

Around 7pm, after all three young hawks had dinner at the nest, one flew out to explore the trees near the Avenue B and 9th Street park entrance.  I believe this is the same hawk as in the photos above.

Tompkins Square fledgling

Tompkins Square fledgling

Check out my wingspan!

Check out my wingspan!

It was a very windy day, with gusts 30-40 mph.  The hawk had to work hard to hang on to the branches, which were bouncing around like crazy.  It had to flap to stay in position, but managed to cling to its perch.

Tompkins Square fledgling

As the last of the sunlight disappeared, the hawk flew to a higher tree.  The red spot on its beak is left-over dinner.

Weeee!

Tompkins Square fledgling

So far, the hawks have stayed in the higher parts of the trees (and the church roof).  The parents have not yet begun teaching them to hunt and seem content to keep letting them feed at the nest.

Urban Hawks also has some photos here.