Friday, December 29, 2017

The Christo-Nora relationship is still a bit of a mystery

I had word this week that Dora's wing injury has improved and all the swelling has gone down, but she is still unable to fly.  It seems her injury may have been worse than it appeared and she has a long way to go.  She's getting some exercise, so I hope that helps increase her strength.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Christo and Nora is still a bit odd.  They demonstrated on Christmas Day that they are defending the park together, but that seems to be the only cooperation happening at this time.  Christo obviously tolerates Nora being in his territory and she is definitely a dominant force.  Christo has been seen nest-building by himself, but Nora has yet to be seen working on any projects with him.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Christo appeared atop the Christodora Building.

Christo atop the Christodora

He came down into the park and perched in the Krishna tree where he was promptly harassed by blue jays.

Christo

From there, he took off towards the west side of the park and caught a rat at the Avenue A and St Mark's entrance. 

Christo

I missed the shot as a crazy person chose that exact moment to harass me. Walking around with a camera often makes me a target for harassment, but the majority of the people in the park are friendly.

As soon as Christo caught the rat, I saw Nora swoop into the park out of the corner of my eye.  She perched high in a big tree near the chess tables as Christo took his rat to the south side of the park and tried to quickly gulp it down.

Christo eating lunch

Within seconds, Nora dove right towards him.

Here comes Nora

She startled Christo as she streaked by beneath him.  She reminded me of a shark knocking a boat.

Nora makes a pass at Christo as he eats

She perched behind Christo and stared at his back as he ate.  About ten seconds later, she came at him, forcing him off the branch.

Nora swoops in on Christo

The rat disappeared, and I presume it fell to the ground.  Nora pecked around at the branch for a few seconds while Christo perched a distance away and watched her as he was again harassed by blue jays.  Finding no food, she took off.

Nora swoops in on Christo

Having lost his lunch, Christo made another run at catching a rat in the same spot next to the St Mark's entrance to the park.  He caught either a mouse or a small rat and took it to a branch and ate it in three gulps before being harassed by a squirrel.

Christo

Christo returned to the rat dispensary a third time, probably because he hadn't had a sufficient meal yet.  However, someone unleashed their dog an let it run wild beneath him, forcing Christo to abandon his hunting plans.  He briefly perched on the traffic light over Avenue A, looking flustered.

Christo on Avenue A

Christo on Avenue A

As the sun set, Christo gave up all dinner plans and went to the east side of the park where he soaked in the last rays of the day.  I sat with him until dark (4:30pm) when he went to roost along 10th Street.

Christo at sunset

 After Christo was in his roosting spot for the night, Nora made a brief fly-by before heading north over the buildings.  It looked like she was either checking in, or making a note of his location.

What I've observed so far is Nora being a bit of a bully and Christo allowing it.  She's happy to catch her own food, or to steal his.  She assists in kicking other hawks out of the territory, but has yet to show any other mate behavior.  In the past, Christo and Dora went to work seriously on their nests in late January, so the next month should reveal more about what his happening with this new relationship.