Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

On Friday, I saw a juvenile Cooper' Hawk perched near the Krishna tree in Tompkins Square.

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

It's not unusual to see Cooper's hawks here in winter, but the odd thing about this one is it perched about sixty feet away from Christo, the resident red-tailed hawk, and he didn't seem to care.  They lioked at each other, but Christo didn't move or make a sound.

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

In the past, Christo (or Dora) has always chased the Cooper's hawks away, as they compete for food.  Almost exactly a year ago, Christo and Dora stole the lunch of a Cooper's who'd been hunting in their territory.

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

To see Christo be so lenient with the Cooper's for so long made me wonder what was going on.  Have the red-tails grown tolerant?  Are they not bothered by this particular hawk?  Was Christo tired out from nest-building all day?  I really don't know.

The Cooper's remained perched for several minutes before flying to the SE corner of the park.

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square

The hawk was immediately confronted by a squirrel.

Squirrel has a face-off with a Cooper's Hawk

But the energetic hawk showed it who's boss.

Cooper's Hawk goes after a squirrel

Cooper's Hawk goes after a squirrel

Cooper's Hawk goes after a squirrel

The squirrel escaped.  I don't think the hawk was actually trying to catch the squirrel, but just enjoyed intimidating it. 

Cooper's Hawk in Tompkins Square 

After that bit of drama, the hawk circled around Avenue B and 7th Street a few times before flying NE.  I didn't see it again this day, but I think I saw it in the park again Saturday evening when it buzzed past Christo as he was hunting along Avenue A.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lower East Side red-tail with light eyes

On January 20, I went looking for kestrels along South Street.  I didn't find any, but to my surprise, I came upon an adult red-tailed hawk perched in a tree where I'd previously seen the kestrels.

The stare-down

I wondered if this could be one of the pair of adult red-tails who have been seen around the Lower East Side the last couple of months.  Unfortunately, I couldn't see any definitive identifying marks that could prove this hawk was one of the pair or not.

However, this hawk does have some interesting features.  It's eyes, for instance, are a light amber color.  This could mean the hawk is a young adult.

LES hawk

LES hawk

By comparison, Dora's eyes (below) are much darker.

Dora

Christo's eyes are also a darker brown.

Christo the red-tailed hawk

Below is a juvenile, who has very bright yellow eyes.

Red tail in Tompkins Square

Back to the light-eyed adult hawk...

LES hawk

One other thing I noticed about this hawk is the color pattern on its legs.  There is some very pale barring, giving them a light cappuccino color.

LES hawk

LES hawk

To compare again, Christo has pronounced brown barring on his legs and Dora has none.

On the day I saw this hawk, it spent about an hour staring intently at a patch of grass very close to where one of the South Street kestrels had caught a mouse five days before.  I hoped to see the hawk catch something to eat, but I ran out of time and had to leave.

LES hawk

It killed me to walk away knowing the hawk was still there.

LES hawk

Meanwhile, that same week, a hawk was spotted checking out 169 Bar on East Broadway.  This is very near where I saw the mystery hawk, so perhaps it's the same one.  ???


See more photos of this hawk on my Flickr page.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bedtime for Christo and Dora

Early in the evening on Monday, after a busy afternoon, I found Christo and Dora in their favorite sycamore on Avenue A and St Mark's Place.  Recently, I've noticed they meet up at the end of the day in Tompkins Square.  I love that they spend so much time together.

Dora & Christo
Dora is on the left, Christo on the right.

As I watched, they both took off simultaneously and headed straight for me.  I've never caught them both flying towards me like this before, so I was really happy to get these shots.

Christo & Dora

Christo & Dora

At one point, they switched places, with Christo taking the high path as Dora followed.

Christo & Dora

Christo & Dora

They flew all the way across Tompkins Square to Avenue B where Christo perched atop St Brigid's and took in the last of the sun.  Dora continued to fly around the area.

Christo in late afternoon

After just a few minutes, Christo flew back to Avenue A and 7th Street, where he checked out a fire escape.  It was time to find a place to spend the night.

Christo looks for a roosting place

Not satisfied with that location, he took off once more...

Christo looks for a roosting place

...and settled on a fire escape further east on 7th Street.  Notice anything significant about this particular location?

Christo roosts on the Dora Apartments

It's the Dora Park Apartments!

In the photo below, you can see him perched between the 5th and 6th floors on the right.

Christo roosts on the Dora Apartments

I really wanted to see Dora join him on the same building, preferably posing above the door, but alas, she didn't cooperate. 

People have asked me if the hawks roost together.  I don't see where they go every night, but I've only seen them together in a tree at night once that I can remember.  Lately, though, they've both been staying near the park.

It was pretty dark by this time, but I caught a glimpse of Dora flying up to this fire escape at the SE corner of Avenue B and 7th Street, just a short distance from Christo.

Dora after dark

She didn't stay there long, though, and moved to another fire escape a few buildings to the east.

Dora after dark

She did a lot of preening and I thought she'd roost there, so I walked back to the park.  This was around 5:30 and it was dark, but I just happened to see Dora fly over me to a tree right across the street from Christo.  I was so hoping she'd go to the Dora Apartments, but she took off again and, this time, flew far down Avenue B.



See more hawk photos on my Flickr page.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nest-building in Tompkins Square

I took a lunch break in Tompkins Square yesterday, and was happy to catch up with hawks Christo and Dora right away.  More importantly, I caught them working on the nest they originally built in October.

Now that it's winter, the structure is very easy to see, although the hawks can easily disappear when they're in it.  In this photo, Dora's back can barely be seen in the nest on the left, while Christo flies out to the right.

Christo & Dora work on the nest

During the time I watched them, Christo did most of the physical work while Dora supervised him from across the street, at the cross of St Brigid's.

Here, he prepares to cut a stick from the same ginkgo that holds the nest.

Christo prepares to cut a stick

Christo cuts a stick

It's hard to see, but Christo cuts another stick from a different tree.

Christo cuts sticks

Back at the nest, he arranges the stick.

Christo arranging sticks in the nest

The stick in his beak looks to be about 18" long.

Christo arranging sticks in the nest

The activity was suddenly interrupted when Dora let out a cry.  Both hawks took off and, when I looked up, I saw a third hawk who had flown into their territory.  In the photo below, Dora is at the top left, Christo at the bottom left, and the intruder is on the right. It was too far away to tell if the hawk was an adult or juvenile.

Christo, Dora and a mystery hawk

Christo is now on the left, and Dora is on the right, as they escort the visitor out of the area.

Christo, Dora and a mystery hawk

Dora and Christo:

Christo and Dora

A short time later, Christo returned, but I didn't see him do any more stick-cutting.

Christo

A fellow hawk-watcher told me he also saw the hawks on the nest today, so I look forward to seeing more nest-building activity in the next few weeks.

Christo

Christo, local luxury nest developer.


See more photos on my Flickr page.

Monday, January 25, 2016

After the storm, with Christo and Dora

After Saturday's blizzard, both Tompkins Square hawks, Christo and Dora, are accounted for and are doing fine.

Christo & Dora 
Christo up top, Dora on the right.

On Sunday, they both spent some time around the park.  Christo looked so white in the bright sun.

Christo

At one point in the afternoon, a Peregrine falcon flew high over the park, but didn't stay long.

Peregrine

Maybe it was because the falcon was in the area, but the hawks spent a lot of time on their church cross lookouts.

Dora ducks as Christo comes in for a landing

I like how Dora ducks as Christo comes in for a landing.

Dora ducks as Christo comes in for a landing

Christo & Dora

While the hawks enjoyed the sunshine, some other creatures made appearances in the park.

This rat struggled to wade through the snow...

Tompkins Square, after the blizzard

...before finally learning to fly.

Tompkins Square, after the blizzard

Predators abound...

Tompkins Square, after the blizzard

Just before sunset, Christo returned.

Christo

He spent a good deal of time swooping over Avenue A and climbing the fire escape above Ray's Candy.

Christo

I thought he might roost there, but no, he kept flying up and down the avenue.

Christo

This was odd behavior considering he had a very full crop, which indicated he had just eaten (there is also still blood on his talons).  Normally, he would sit and digest a while after eating a big meal.  You can see his bulging crop below.

Full crop and bloody talons

After flying around the park some more, Christo finally settled in at a fire escape on 7th Street, near Avenue B.

Christo roosts on a fire escape

This is where I left him as it got dark.  Several minutes later, I saw Dora fly across the park and land somewhere near him on 7th Street.

See more hawk photos here, and stay tuned for an update on the nest...