Thursday, November 19, 2015

Raptor invasion

Last Sunday, I spotted Dora, the red-tailed hawk, flying unusually low over Tompkins Square near Avenue B.

Dora patrols the skies

She kept circling, then flew east, only to quickly return to a spot almost directly over the nest site

She was followed by a Peregrine falcon.

Dora the red-tail takes on a falcon

In a flash, she barreled vertically, talons-first, towards the invader.

Dora the red-tail takes on a falcon

Angry words were briefly exchanged before Dora chased the falcon down Avenue B.

Dora the red-tail takes on a falcon

Later the same day, more activity in the sky over the center of the park grabbed my attention.  Pigeons scattered, at least one red-tailed hawk could be seen above the trees, and there were at least two additional raptors. At first, I thought the falcon had returned, but I believe the newcomers were sharp-shinned hawks:

Sharp-shinned hawks?

I'm not 100% sure that's what they were as they flew around so fast and it was hard to see, so if anyone knows better, please comment.

Sharp-shinned hawks?

It's hard to tell from this photo, but the head is reddish brown and the eyes are yellow, so it's not a Cooper's hawk (which I kind of expected as one was hanging around this same area two weeks ago).

Sharp-shinned hawk?

Meanwhile, Christo kept busy cleaning up rats.

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

Why, yes, he is pulling the head off this one...

Christo eats a rat's head

...and that is, indeed, a rat's head in his mouth...

Christo eats a rat's head

Christo eats a rat's head

After Christo had finished eating, this ballsy squirrel scampered right up to him.

The confrontation

But Christo wasn't in the mood.

The confrontation

At sunset, both Christo and Dora perched atop the cross at Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street, surveying their domain.

Christo & Dora atop Most Holy Redeemer

In other hawk news, check out this incredible post by Roger Paw who witnessed a juvenile red-tail in Washington Square snatch a pigeon right out of a man's hand!


See more hawk photos on my Flickr page.