Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Look Ma, wings!

The weather was tricky this last weekend, but I did manage to see the baby hawks in their nest in Tompkins Square when they stood up to flap their wings and show off for mom, Dora.

Flap flap flap

Flap flap flap

Flap flap flap

Flap flap flap

When the babies stand up on the edge of the nest, they appear as tall as the adults.  You can see their wings are looking darker as the flight feathers grow in.

Hanging out with mom

Dora and two of three babies

Dora and two of three babies

Dora and two of three babies

Dora and one of three babies

All of the above photos only show two babies at a time.  For a brief moment on Sunday, I was able to capture all three, although it was a dark afternoon, so I couldn't get a very good photo.

Three at once

Here is a short video of the kids with Dora:

And more Pollock-inspired hawklet art on the path below the nest...

Hawk art

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring migration

It's spring migration time and there are a lot of interesting birds to be found in Tompkins Square Park.  Below are a few highlights.

This spectacular Scarlet Tanager:

Scarlet tanager

Scarlet tanager



Male Common Yellowthroat:

Common Yellowthroat

Female Common Yellowthroat:

Female common yellowthroat?

Female House Finch:

House Finch




Male American Redstart:


Male Magnolia Warbler:

Magnolia Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler:

Black and white warbler



Some of these birds, like the Tanager, have traveled all the way from South America. How wonderful they've decided to take a rest stop in our neighborhood.  Look closely at the leafy treetops or on the ground among the short bushes and you'll see these colorful visitors.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tompkins Square hawk nest update

It's been just over three weeks since the hawk eggs hatched in Tompkins Square, and now the babies are clearly visible when they peek over the edge of the nest.


Like father, like...

Dad Christo keeps watch while one of the youngsters flaps its wings.

Like father, like...

This last weekend, I was able to see two of the three nestlings.  The third is either still too short or too shy.

Two of three baby hawks

And we have pin feathers!

Show us your pin feathers!

Here is some video of two of the chicks bobbing around while Christo stands guard.

At one point, Dora posed next to her masterpiece (she built up the base of the nest all on her own).  You can really see how tall/deep the nest is.  I'm guessing they must have a basement rec room in there.

Dora and her masterpiece

Later, Dad and Mom took a break in the nearby honey locust.

Christo & Dora

After complaining in an earlier post that I don't often see much of Dora, I was happy to see her out and about on this afternoon.  She can really strike a pose.


And despite being behind a curtain of foliage, she can still watch me like a...er...hawk.

Dora coming through the jungle

Soaring past one of her favorite hangouts, St Brigid's church.


Note:  Now that the baby hawks are big enough to look over the edge of the nest, they're showering the pathway below with their excrement.  You may want to pack an umbrella when walking in this area.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dora gets mobbed

At sunset Thursday evening, I found Dora the hawk taking a break atop the cross at St Brigid's on Avenue B.  As soon as she landed, she was mobbed by an angry blue jay.

Dora gets mobbed by a blue jay

Dora gets mobbed by a blue jay

The jay dove at her about a hundred times, but Dora kept her cool.

Dora gets mobbed by a blue jay

Dora gets mobbed by a blue jay

After about 15 minutes, the jay calmed down and Dora was able to stretch.

Dora stretching

Then it was time for a flight around the park before returning to the nest for the night.

Dora at sunset

Dora at sunset

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Christo the hunter

Just when I think Christo the Tompkins Square hawk is growing docile...


...and mellow...


...look out!


He reminds me that he's a top predator.

I arrived in the park late in the day, around 5pm.  In a span of less than 30 minutes, Christo caught two sparrows and three rats.  Not wasting any time, he took each catch straight back to the nest where Dora fed the kids.

Below, Christo leaps up to the fence with a sparrow he caught somewhere in the trees.

Christo catches a baby sparrow

Christo catches a baby sparrow

Christo catches a baby sparrow

I didn't even have time to chase after him.  As I was halfway to the nest, he came right back to the hunting grounds behind the park offices.


Here he is with a rat.

Christo with a rat

Pausing to rest for less than a minute, it was back to the nest.

Christo with a rat

Another rat.

Christo catches a rat

Away again!

Christo with a rat

You can just barely see a third rat on the branch in front of him.

Christo with a rat

Christo was actually still hunting when I left him, but it was getting late and I had to go. I've never seen him hunt in quick succession like that, and he was successful with every attempt.  He's really an amazing creature.


You might be wondering why there aren't any photos of Dora.  She is the master of hiding from my lens!  I do see her, but she just doesn't reveal herself as much as Christo.  She's definitely present, working hard to take care of their three hawklets.

See more photos of Christo hunting here.