Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lower East Side kestrels

I lucked out the other day and spied an entire kestrel family on the Lower East Side.  They nest in a tiny hole in the cornice of a building on Stanton and Clinton Streets.

Here are the two babies:

Baby kestrels

Hello!

Baby kestrels

While I watched, there was some commotion across the street.  I looked up to see the two kestrel parents chasing a pigeon over the buildings.  The pigeon dove into a hole about two feet over from the babies.  Mama kestrel followed the pigeon and gave it a loud scolding.

Mama kestrel checks out a pigeon hole

Threat averted, the two parents perched on a nearby cell tower to keep an eye on the nest.

Kestrel pair

Mom appears to have lost a tail feather.

Kestrel

Eventually, the drama died down and Pigeon was allowed back on the premises...

Neighbors


See more kestrel photos here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hawks at play

Our Tompkins Square hawk fledglings really love to play with sticks.  After watching them have so much fun, I don't think I'll ever look at another stick and not think of pouncing on it.

Stick-play

Stick-play

Stick-play

Stick-play 

Juvenile red tail playing with a stick

There's always time to take a break from stick-play to pose for photos...

Superstar

...or to people-watch.

Untitled

Just after sunset on Sunday, one of the kids caught a rat over by the handball courts.

Baby catches a rat

I've seen the young hawks catch mice, but this was the first time I saw any of them catch a rat, and the scene drew quite a crowd...

Baby catches a rat

...and there were many cheers as the hawk struggled to get the heavy rat up and over  a fence, then zoomed down Avenue B.

Baby catches a rat

I hear a lot of interesting comments from people encountering the hawks for the first time.  My favorites from this day were:

Man (while watching a hawk hop around in a tree):  What is that?  Oh, it's just a cat.

Another man (coming upon a crowd of people looking up at a hawk in a tree):  What are y'all looking at?  GOD?!

Yes.


See more hawk photos here:

City hawks 3
City hawks 2
City hawks 1

Previously.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dora returns

It's been three weeks since I've seen Dora the hawk, and I was beginning to worry.  I've heard that female hawks often take some time off after nest duty, so I assumed she was off getting a spa treatment somewhere, but I was getting anxious not knowing where she was.

The last few nights, Christo has been calling at sunset.  He often sits on the local church crosses or the flagpole in the park and cries.  Last night, I heard an answering cry, but couldn't see who made the sound.  Tonight, I can confirm Dora is back in the 'hood.

I found the pair sitting atop the cross of the Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street and Avenue A.  Christo is on top.  I knew it was him because of his shape, light head color, and a distinctive tail feather.

Dora and Christo

I wasn't quite sure if that was Dora on the left or not, but then she moved and I recognized her shape and face (and her feathers are a bit ratty).  They also sat up there together for almost three hours, which is consistent with their behavior.

Dora and Christo

A peck on the cheek?

A peck on the cheek

They are a stunning pair.

Dora and Christo

As the sun set, Christo took off sailing over Avenue A and was joined by two juveniles, which I presume are his kids.  That's Christo on the upper left.

Hawk family

The three flew around and frolicked on the roof of one of the Village View apartment buildings while Dora watched from the cross as the sun went down...

I don't think I ever posted this, but it's one of my favorite images of Dora.  This is her clearing out some left-overs from the nest.

Dora

Welcome back, Dora!


See more hawk photos here:

City hawks 3
City hawks 2
City hawks 1

Previously

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christo serves up dinner

In the previous post, one of the Tompkins Square fledglings swallowed a mouse whole.  As soon as it finished, dad Christo caught a rat a short distance away and delivered it to the same fledgling, who had a second helping of rodent.

Here is Christo preparing the entree...

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

Red head and red tail

Christo with a rat

Thanks, dad!

Juvenile red tail with rat

See more hawk photos here:

City hawks 3
City hawks 2
City hawks 1

Previously.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to eat a mouse in one easy gulp

1.  Catch the biggest and freshest mouse you can find.

How to eat a mouse

2.  Pop the top and stuff it right in there.  Mind your eyes!

How to eat a mouse

3.  Don't be shy, just chomp it right down...

How to eat a mouse

4.  Careful not to gag.

How to eat a mouse

5.  Ta-da!

How to eat a mouse

Erm, you've got a little foot sticking out the corner of your mouth...

How to eat a mouse 

This fledgling caught the mouse in the picnic area of Tompkins Square, then gobbled it in just a couple of minutes.  Immediately afterwards, dad Christo caught a mongo rat and gave it to the young bird, who ate that as well.  This hawk must have eaten its weight in rodent.  I bet it's sleeping well tonight...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Growing up fast

How do you find the hawks in Tompkins Square?

Listen for the robins and blue jays screaming.  If that fails, look for the hawks' favorite play areas, like the fenced-in lawns, where all the good hawk toys are.

Juvenile red tail with juvenile humans

Toys like ferocious branches...

Juvenile red tail playing with a branch

...and wily sticks!

Juvenile red tail playing with a stick

Leaves can be fun, too.

Juvenile red tail playing with leaves

Horsing around in the grass is even more enjoyable with a playmate.

Who, us?

Siblings hanging out together in the grass

It's probably more accurate to say these two are playing independently, near each other.  I want to say they are the oldest two fledglings who stuck together on the nest, but I'm not really sure. One of them has to be Shaft!

Siblings playing in the grass

Tired of playing on the grass, one of the birds decides to snoop around the benches.

Juvenile red tail in Tompkins Square

All that play has a purpose.  The following day, this young one successfully catches a mouse over by Avenue A.  If you look close, you can see it in the talons.

Juvenile red tail catches a mouse

Flying, playing and hunting are physically taxing.  Time for yoga!

Flexi-neck

Up, up and away to roost for the evening...

Juvenile red tail in Tompkins Square

For anyone interested in hearing dad Christo's voice, here is a short video of him calling from atop the flag pole in the park.  I was hoping Dora would answer, but I've still not seen her since the last bird left the nest.



UPDATE:  Our friend Francois Portmann has created a time-lapse video of the hawk family on the nest.  See the chicks grow up - three months in three minutes!

See more hawk photos here:

City hawks 3
City hawks 2
City hawks 1

Previously.