Saturday, July 14, 2018

Big day for Tompkins first fledgling

I went to Tompkins Square Park late morning on this Friday the 13th and saw that one hawklet was in the nest and the other was perched a few feet away on a branch of the same tree. I waited around a while, but not much was happening and it was starting to get pretty hot, so I left the park to get some lunch.  As I was waiting for a sandwich, a fellow hawk-watcher friend called to tell me she had just seen one of the chicks fledge!  The time was 2:02pm.

On my way back to the park, I spotted Christo, who was already on the scene at Avenue B and 8th Street.


When I rounded the corner, I spotted the fledgling up in the gutter of St Brigid's church.  It was very fortunate my friend saw the fledge, as she was the only witness and we might not have been able to locate the hawk if she hadn't seen where it went.

Baby's first trip out of the nest tree

Looking closer, I was surprised to see this is the younger of the two chicks.  My, how things have changed in six weeks!

Tompkins fledgling A2

Tompkins fledgling A2

The fledgling still has a tuft of down poking up from the top of its head.

Tompkins fledgling A2

While the fledgling rested on the church roof, mom Amelia flew in and took a dip in the gutter.  She remained in there for over an hour, simultaneously cooling off and keeping an eye on her kid.  She also kept her eyes on me, which became unnerving after a while as she stayed low in the gutter with only the top of her head visible. She stayed in there for over an hour.

Amelia eyes me from a rain gutter

From her vantage point, Amelia could probably see across the street to the park where the other hawk chick was branching and flapping its wings.

Tompkins hawk chick #1

I really hoped this one might fledge as well, but it opted to spend another night at the nest.

Tompkins hawk chick #1

Back at St Brigid's, the fledgling began to explore the length of the gutter along the roof.

Tompkins fledgling A2

Tompkins fledgling A2

Tompkins fledgling A2

Tompkins fledgling A2

At one point, Christo chased off a kestrel high above the church.

Christo battles a kestrel

All remained calm below where pigeons felt confident enough to bathe close to the fledgling.

Tompkins fledgling eyes bathing pigeons

Such a baby face!

Doe eyes

Tompkins fledgling A2

At 7:40pm, the fledgling decided to leave the church and venture east on 8th Street.

Tompkins fledgling A2

It aimed for a fire escape...

Tompkins fledgling A2

...and managed to land between the rails rather than on top of the railing. 

Tompkins fledgling A2

The hawk ended up wedging itself between the bars and seemed not to be able to move for quite some time.  A crowd of concerned neighbors gathered and discussed what to do if the hawk needed help.  Thankfully, the fledgling eventually freed itself and went to roost on the top of the fire escape platform. Thank you to all the neighbors who were ready and willing to perform a rescue; let's hope the little one has learned a lesson!

Stay tuned for more updates as the other hawklet is expected to fledge any time.

Friday, July 13, 2018

First fledge at Tompkins Square

Good news! The younger of the two red-tailed hawk chicks in Tompkins Square fledged the nest today at 2:02pm. More details and photos to come...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jumping, flapping and exploring

The last couple of days have seen the Tompkins Square hawk chicks being very active and achieving a milestone in their development: branching. Both youngsters have been vigorously testing their wings and jumping up and down on the nest. Mom Amelia is spending less time on the nest, so the kids have room to move around and stretch.

July 10:

There are subtle differences between the hawklets and I believe #1 (oldest) is on the right while #2 is on the left.

Tompkins #2 and #1

#1 peers out at me from the leaves.

I spy with my little eye...

#2 climbs up a branch just above the nest.


I'm not sure which chick this is, but it's completely out of the nest.

Out of the nest

July 11:

When I arrived at the park, I was greeted by #1.

Tompkins Hawklet #1

Testing those wings...

Tompkins Hawklet #1 tests wings

Whoa, the hawk flapped its way a couple of feet up and away from the nest.  This is the same area of the ginkgo tree where the first 2016 fledge happened.

Tompkins Hawklet #1 goes exploring

I made my way around to the other side of the nest in time to see #2 getting adventurous.

Tompkins Hawklet #2 tests wings

Look at those wings!

Tompkins Hawklet #2 tests wings

Catching some air!

Tompkins Hawklet #2 tests wings


Tompkins Hawklet #2 tests wings

Fledge time for the chicks could be any day now. 

Meanwhile, dad Christo has begun his summer molt. He's looking kind of pale and raggedy.  In the photo below, a feather puffs out from above his eye.  This is all normal.

Christo begins his molt

I've always thought that Christo looks kind of awful as he molts, maybe because he normally looks so sleek and handsome. He'll probably look worse before he looks better, which should be in a month or so.

Christo begins his molt

Amelia isn't showing many obvious signs of molting, but I saw today that she has lost four tail feathers. It will be interesting to see if she transforms much during this time.


Amelia was definitely feeling the heat this week and took an evening dip in the gutter of St Brigid's church to cool off and have a drink of water.

Amelia takes an evening dip in the gutter

Amelia takes an evening dip in the gutter

Dora used to bathe in this same place, as noted back in 2016. I find it interesting that both female hawks have used the same gutter for bathing when they had a nest in the ginkgo tree.  Maybe this is because they can still keep an eye on the nest across the street from this spot.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tompkins hawks deal with heat wave, Amelia encounters an odd mockingbird

It's been a brutally hot week, but the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks seemed to handle the heat wave just fine.  I was unable to endure much time in the sun before succumbing to heat sickness, so the shots below are all from very brief visits to the park late in the day.  The chicks are growing and changing rapidly, and I estimate they could fledge in the next couple of weeks.

June 30:

This chick still has a white fuzzy head.

Tompkins nestling

July 1:

Flashing some leg.  Mom Amelia stands on the left with her back to us.

Flashing some leg


Tompkins nestling

This was the view from the other side of the nest, with Amelia providing some much needed shade. The second nestling is hidden behind leaves on the right.

Amelia and one of her nestlings

Heat index? What heat index?  Amelia pants in the background.

Tompkins siblings

July 2:

One chick "wingercizes" on the left, hidden by leaves, but you can get an idea of the wingspan. Also note the far left side of the nest looks like a segment has fallen away.  I don't think it's a danger to the chicks.

Tompkins hawk nest

Amelia stops by to drop off some dinner.

Amelia and her two nestlings

The chick on the left eats while the one on the right watches Amelia depart.

Amelia takes off from the nest

Amelia takes off from the nest

July 7:

White fuzzy heads are now brown and the chicks are looking much more grown up.

Tompkins red-tail siblings

Meanwhile, dad Christo cooled off on the 4th of July by soaking his feet in a puddle in the playground just below the nest.

Christo cooling off on the 4th of July

Afterwards, he rested a while on the playground equipment.

Christo on the 4th of July

Amelia soaked in the last of the sun's rays atop the roof of St Brigid's church, just across the street from the nest.

Amelia at sunset

You can really see her light eye color in these photos (compare to Christo's dark eyes above). Her eyes will probably darken as she gets older, but for now, it's one way to tell the hawks apart.

Amelia and a feather

A short while later, Amelia perched up on the cross only to be mobbed by a mockingbird.  But there was something not quite right about this mockingbird...

Amelia gets mobbed by a tail-less mockingbird's missing its tail!

Amelia gets mobbed by a tail-less mockingbird

I've never seen a mockingbird without a tail before and I'm guessing it had an encounter with a predator, perhaps a cat. Despite being tailless, the mockingbird had no problem flying around and annoying Amelia.  This mockingbird should be easy to identify until it grows a new tail, so I'm hoping to see it again.