Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cooper's hawk hangs out with squirrel in NYC Marble Cemetery

A few days ago, I saw an immature Cooper's hawk catch a robin in Tompkins Square Park. There has also been an adult Cooper's hawk hanging around the area, and today I found it in the New York City Marble Cemetery on E 2nd Street.

It had apparently just finished off a pigeon (note the carpet of gray feathers on the ground).

Cooper's hawk in NYC Marble Cemetery

Most surprising, there was a squirrel nearby who seemed so unconcerned about the hawk, it sat on a stone monument with its back turned towards the predator.

Cooper's hawk and squirrel in NYC Marble Cemetery

I didn't have my bird camera with me as it was about to snow, but I did manage to take some video of the hawk and the squirrel.

In this clip, the hawk prepares to take off and you can compare its size to the pigeon in its talons. Although the hawk is fluffed up in the cold and seems large, it's smaller than our local red-tails.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cooper's hawk catches robin in Tompkins Square

This last Thursday, I came across a young Cooper's hawk who had just caught a robin in Tompkins Square.

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

The hawk's streaky markings gave it excellent camouflage among the fall foliage.

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

Not wasting any time, the hawk went to work plucking the robin.

Cooper's hawk plucks a robin in Tompkins Square

But the Cooper's hawk didn't get a chance to tuck into its meal before red-tailed Amelia came swooping in with a scream.

Amelia the red-tailed hawk

Amelia the red-tailed hawk

Christo joined her in chasing the Cooper's out of their territory. Because of construction in the SE quadrant of the park, I was unable to follow them to see what happened next.

Meanwhile, I looked in on the state of the red-tailed hawk nest in the ginkgo tree on the east side of the park.  There is an assemblage of sticks in the same location as last season, but I'm not sure whether or not the hawks will decided to use the same spot this year.

Tompkins Square Park hawk nest

The nest tree is within the fenced-off area of the park where construction crews are rebuilding the Avenue B and 7th Street playgrounds. So far, the human activity doesn't seem to be preventing the hawks from going about their business.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Raptor withdrawal

It's the slow time of year for seeing a lot of hawk action in the park.  Since our fledgling left in late September, there hasn't been much excitement to report, but Christo and Amelia are definitely around and can be seen in Tompkins Square and the surrounding neighborhood.

There was some confusion when a young hawk was seen hunting behind the bathrooms late one afternoon.  I thought it was the resident fledgling, but a closer look proved it to be a different young Red-Tail (below).  The face was much lighter, the markings on the chest were not quite right, and the tail was completely different.  Urban Hawks has more on this handsome young stranger.

Immature red-tail in Tompkins Square

Christo seems to be back to his old schedule of turning up behind the park offices at dusk to hunt for dinner. As the sun goes down, the rats come out and Christo is there.  Below, he gets harassed by a Blue Jay, something the hawks calmly endure all the time. 

Christo mobbed by a blue jay

After suffering some raptor withdrawal, I got my fix by attending the Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Morningside Heights. After the ceremonies, there were birds on display compliments of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR).

I just happened to wear my Kestrel shirt that day!

Goggla with Mr Kestrel

A closer look at the little guy - he was so sweet and calm.

Kestrel portrait

Along with the Kestrel, a Peregrine Falcon attracted a lot of attention. I could never get this close to one in the wild.

Peregrine portrait

This hawk was not part of the WINORR family, but there were many birds brought in to be part of the blessing ceremonies.

Sharp-shinned hawk

Like this Snowy Owl.

Blessing of the snowy owl

Meanwhile, one of the resident wild Red-Tailed hawks perched on Gabriel's horn atop the cathedral, overlooking Morningside Park.

Red-tail and Gabriel

This is a popular perch for the resident hawks, as observed many times by Morningside Hawks blog. Check out the rest of his site for the history of raptors in that area.

Friday, October 12, 2018

They never say goodbye

There hasn't been any hawk news to report from Tompkins Square Park lately. Christo and Amelia are still around, but it seems our fledgling has ventured off on his own.  I last saw him in the park on September 27.  Below is some video I took of him that evening as he hunted for rats behind the park offices.

I don't know where the young hawks go when they leave the area, nor do I know how far they go or if they ever return. After seeing this fledgling almost daily since he hatched on/around June 1, it's been hard getting used to his absence.

This hawk nesting season in Tompkins Square saw a lot of drama, which included:

Dora going to rehab in late November/early December 2017
The arrival of Nora/Barucha in December 2017
Dora's return from rehab on February 26, 2018
Dora's return to WINORR on April 4, 2018
The sudden arrival of Amelia
The rescue of Christo and Amelia's first fledgling on July 25, 2018
The death of the first fledgling on July 29, 2018
The younger fledgling suffering from illness

For those wondering about the condition of Dora, she is still with WINORR and they report she has  a new mate and is doing well. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tompkins red-tail fledgling is still with us

The Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk fledgling is still with us as of this fourth week of September, officially making him the first of Christo's kids to stick around this long.  He did hatch a month later than chicks in previous years, and he did have a set-back with illness, but I really didn't think he'd be with us this long.  At this point, every day with him is a bonus.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

I've seen the fledgling perched on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church at Avenue A and 10th Street, and eating lunch with mom Amelia on the roof above Mast Books on Avenue A and 5th Street, but I don't know if he's ventured much further from the park than that. He still seems perfectly happy to stay in the park where he continues to entertain his adoring fans.


I caught him perched on the cellphone transmitters on the roof of the park bathrooms the other day just after he'd had a bath.

After the bath

Shaking it off...

After the bath

The park squirrels continue to bully and intimidate the young hawk, but one of them finally suffered the consequences and became a meal.

Tompkins red-tail fledgling eats a squirrel

On Monday, I watched as the fledgling caught a monster rat near the basketball courts.

Tompkins red-tail fledgling catches a rat


Tompkins red-tail fledgling catches a rat

The rat put up a struggle, but this was the fatal bite to the neck.

The fatal bite

Tompkins red-tail fledgling catches a rat

The hawk experienced some difficulties lifting his heavy catch, but he managed to take off and carry it to a nearby tree.

Tompkins red-tail fledgling catches a rat

A short time later, eating rat spaghetti...mmm!

Tompkins red-tail fledgling eats rat spaghetti

Apparently the giant rat wasn't enough, because after eating, the fledgling went and caught himself a second one. He's doing very well catching prey.

Tompkins red-tail fledgling with the 3rd rodent of the afternoon

The hawk is still very much a kid and plays with his food.  Below, he chest-bumps a mouse before eating it.

Tompkins red-tail fledgling chest-bumps a mouse

I have no idea how long the fledgling will stick around the park, but I hope he stays as long as possible.  He's become a familiar and joyful fixture there, and makes so many people happy.

See more recent hawk photos on my Flickr page.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Raptor Fest 2018

Here are some highlights from Raptor Fest, which took place this last weekend in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Spectacled owl:

Spectacled Owl

Screech owl:

Screech Owl

Screech Owl




Bald eagle:

Bald Eagle

Red-tailed hawk with a bee:

Red-tail and bee

Great horned owl:

Great Horned Owl

Peregrine falcon:

Peregrine Falcon

Eurasian eagle owl:

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Rough-legged hawk:

Rough-legged hawk




See more photos on my Flickr page.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Save the date - Raptor Fest this Saturday

Rough-legged hawk

Raptor Fest 2018 is coming up this Saturday, September 15, from 12:00pm - 3:00pm at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, hosted by the NYC Park Rangers.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get up close to falcons, hawks, owls and other raptors in a fun and casual environment. There will be aerial demonstrations and educational activities.

For more information, see the event listing on the NYC Parks Department site.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling continues to improve

The Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk fledgling, who is believed to be suffering from West Nile virus, continues to improve, although he is still not quite right. The good news is he has made it this far, proving he is strong.

The two images below are from September 3 when the hawk was having one of his slow days.  He bathed in the stagnant water on top of the men's room, then rested on the roof for about 20 minutes.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

His lack of energy and the way he kept closing one eye were signs he wasn't feeling 100%.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Despite his lethargy, the hawk is still improving, has been hunting, and seems to have a good appetite. Parents, Christo and Amelia, are looking after him and provide him with supplemental food, like this mouse (below) caught by Christo.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling with a mouse

The mouse fell to the ground, so the fledgling had to retrieve it himself.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling with a mouse

He still prefers low perches like fences and benches, and doesn't seem bothered by the presence of people.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

The fledgling is still just a kid, and is often seen sparring with squirrels, who relentlessly taunt him.

Red-tail and squirrel

This squirrel is so confident it will get away, it doesn't even drop the acorn in its mouth!

Red-tail fledgling and squirrel

Red-tail fledgling and squirrel

Despite playing around and acting like a toddler, the fledgling is beginning to look like an adult, and I hope he grows into a magnificent raptor.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling