Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hawk family weekend

This last weekend was a busy one for the Tompkins Square hawks, and I was able to see all four of them, which was a real treat.

On Saturday, the native fledgling, Ten, spent a whopping 7.5 hours up on this cellphone transmitter on Avenue A and St Mark's Place.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

It got to be pretty tedious watching her up there, but she seemed to enjoy herself.

Tompkins fledgling #1

On Sunday, I found her just as she hopped out of the nest at 12:30pm.  According to other hawk-watchers, she'd gone into the nest around 11am and apparently took a nap up there.

After she left the nest tree, there was a great frenzy of hawks flying around and screaming.  On the east side of the park, Christo, Dora and one of the fledglings tussled in a tree, causing a big commotion.  They were behind some leaves, so I couldn't see which fledgling was involved, nor could I see if they were squabbling over food.

All three hawks took off to the west side of the park where they settled in the big elm north of the chess tables and proceeded to loudly vocalize for about 20 minutes.

Christo & Dora

Above, Dora is perched on the large branch while Christo is below her.  Below, you can hear them vocalizing at the very beginning of the video.  They were really loud until I took out the video camera, at which time they went quiet!



The hawks stayed mostly hidden in the tree for about an hour, and then a fledgling flew out and went to the big elm that overhangs the pathway near the St Mark's Place entrance.  A closer look revealed the fledgling to be Flatbush (note the band on his leg).

Tompkins fledgling #2

When he landed in the tree, he knocked out a small dead branch, which fell onto some people sitting on the bench below.  Ooops!

Tompkins fledgling #2

As I was watching Flatbush, Ten flew by and she eventually settled in the Krishna Tree.

Tompkins fledgling #1

After a full day loafing on the cellphone transmitter, it was nice to see her more active in the park.  As I watched her, something on the ground behind me caught her eye and she dove straight over my head.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

What ever she was going for in the bushes got away.

Looking for prey

She then flew to the big elm where Flatbush had previously been, but he was gone at this point and I wasn't able to keep track of where he went.

Tompkins fledgling 
#1

Ten scavenged for scraps, turning up this pile of feathers.

Beak full o' feathers

A squirrel decided to tease her, which you can see in the video below. 



Flatbush previously had a similar squirrel experience.

After dealing with the squirrel, Ten hopped down to a fence to greet her adoring fans.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Tompkins fledgling #1

She didn't stick around for long, though, and took off to chase some pigeons.

Tompkins fledgling #1

I didn't see her catch any prey, but she put on a good show and made several promising swoops across the park.

Tompkins fledgling #1


You can see more recent photos of the entire hawk family on my Flickr page.






Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hunting with Christo

I spent some quality time with Christo this last weekend as he hunted in Tompkins Square.  Both fledglings and Dora were around, and it's his job to provide for them all, so he had a lot to keep him busy. 

Christo

On Friday, I followed the sound of hawk screaming to the east side of the park where the native fledgling, Ten, and mom Dora were hidden in the trees along Avenue B.  They both loudly called out as Christo delivered some prey.  After he took off from the trees, Dora quieted down, so I presumed she took the meal.  The fledgling, however, kept on begging to be fed.  She has a distinctive two-part call, which you can hear in this video:



As she carried on in the background, Christo patiently studied the nearby shrubbery, suddenly diving when his target came into view.  He was so fast, I almost lost him in the frame.

Christo dropping down for prey

About four feet from the ground, he flipped right-side-up and came down talons-first.

Christo dropping down for prey

Christo went out of view in the bushes, then popped up a few seconds later empty-taloned.  What ever he'd aimed for had escaped this time.

Christo

With the fledgling still screaming high in a tree, Christo casually took a look around a landscaped area from a low viewpoint.

Christo

Not satisfied with that position, he flew up a bit higher...

Christo

...to a lamp post.

Christo

Then he was off again.  I watched him repeat the same pattern (watch, dive, miss) in the same area a few more times before I had to leave for the day.

Christo

I returned on Saturday just in time to see Christo catch a rat in the same area where he'd been hunting the previous day.

Christo with a rat

After eating the head, he flew the body to the west side of the park where Ten had been hanging out on a rooftop all day.

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

After taking the rat to a tree, Christo called a few times for Ten (or who ever was in the area) to come and pick up dinner.  No one answered, so he ate it himself.  I went to check the spot where Ten had been and she was no longer there, so she was either not interested or was eating leftovers somewhere else.  I always feel bad when no one answers Christo's dinner call as he works so hard to get the food.  In this case, though, he reaped the reward himself.

More to come...




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hawk days of summer

It's the time of year when I grow a bit sad as I know we'll be bidding farewell to our young hawks soon.  In 2016, one of the three hawks born in Tompkins Square stuck around until late August.  In 2015, my last sighting of Christo and Dora's kids happened the first week of August.  That year, the nest was on the Ageloff building on Avenue A, and the fledglings never spent much time in the park.  In 2014, when the hawks nested on the Christodora, my last sighting of the older fledglings was August 1, and the youngest sibling that year, who stayed in the nest six days longer than the others, took off in early September.

This year has been different as we have Ten, who was born in the park, and Flatbush, who was a rescue and took some time adjusting to his new surroundings.  He's turned out to be the big explorer and I've had more difficulty finding him lately.

On August 3, however, Flatbush made his presence known in a dramatic way by zooming all over the park and along Avenue A.

Tompkins fledgling #2

He made my heart stop when he took off from a fence inside the park and flew low over traffic before taking center stage on a traffic light at the intersection of Avenue A and 7th Street.

Ta-da!

Stopping traffic

He is easily identifiable by his leg band.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Although Flatbush's antics were entertaining, I felt much better when he returned to the safety of the park.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2

Flatbush has picked up a few tricks from foster-dad Christo, like perching on the illuminated lamp posts after the sun goes down.  Christo often hunts for rats this way, so maybe Flatbush will learn to do the same.

Tompkins fledgling #2

And, as Christo is known to perch on the cellphone antenna atop the park offices, so does Flatbush.

Tompkins fledgling #2

On August 5, after seeing Christo perched on top of the scaffolding at the Christodora, Flatbush came along and took his place.  This, and the Village View high-rise at 1st Avenue and 4th Street, are the highest points at which I've seen him.

Tompkins fledgling #2

While Flatbush was up on the Christodora, Ten was perched in a tree near the Temperance Fountain.

Tompkins fledgling #1

A month ago, Ten seemed to be advancing quickly and I thought she'd be off on her own by now.  But, for what ever reason, she has been staying close to home.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Christo and Dora are currently molting and both hawks look pretty ragged.  Below, you can see Dora is growing new tail feathers and she has some gaps in her wings.

Dora molting

Christo resembles a ghostly old man.

Christo molting

I always feel bad for him when he looks this way, but he's fine.

Christo molting

Christo molting

This last weekend saw two punk concerts in the park. People often ask me of the loud music scares the hawks away.  Nope!  In fact, it's a theory of mine that they actually like it.  Over the last four years, Christo and his kids often attend the punk shows.  My favorite sighting was seeing Christo take in a performance by the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black (see the last paragraph of this post for details). This last Sunday, Flatbush was spotted in the tree above the stage while The Nihilistics played.

Late in the day, I found Dora and Christo perched together on the dome of Most Holy Redeemer church, facing the park, taking it all in...

Dora & Christo




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Flatbush goes exploring in this week's hawk highlights

This week's Tompkins Square hawk update isn't too exciting, but that's to be expected for late July/early August when the weather is hot and humid, and the hawks begin to drift further from the park.  Both fledglings (Ten and Flatbush) are both still around, but I haven't been able to see if they are hunting and feeding themselves.  Christo still seems to be providing for them, so they are not yet ready to go off on their own.

The photos below were taken over the last several days. 

Tompkins fledgling #1

Ten explores a fire escape along 7th Street, south of the park.

Tompkins fledgling #1

Late on a dreary afternoon, she was mobbed by a mockingbird while perched on an antenna on the same block of 7th Street.  Urban Hawks has some nice photos and video of her that same afternoon.

Red-tail and mockingbird

In the end, the mockingbird succeeded in bullying Ten off her perch and chased her back into the park.

Red-tail and mockingbird

On a sunnier afternoon, Flatbush perched on a chimney on 7th Street and regarded a flying insect.

Fledgling regarding a bug

The following images are all of Flatbush.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Note the band on his left leg.  This is the easiest way to identify him.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2

Tompkins fledgling #2

Exploring the scaffolding at the Christodora House on Avenue B and 9th Street.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Paying a visit to the Meserich Synagogue on 6th Street, just east of First Avenue, this last Sunday.

Tompkins fledgling #2

Monday evening, Flatbush surprised me by appearing alongside Dora on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church on Avenue A and 10th Street (in the photo below, Flatbush is on top, Dora is on the right).  This is the first time I've seen him on a church cross, and is the highest perch I've seen him achieve so far.

Flatbush and Dora

After watching Dora preen for a few minutes, Flatbush took off south and disappeared over the rooftops on 9th Street.

Flatbush and Dora


See more recent hawk photos on my Flickr page.