Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Whole lotta mating going on

A fellow hawk-watcher told me he saw Christo and Dora mating during the snowfall in Tompkins Square this morning, so I trekked out in the storm this afternoon to see for myself.  By the time I arrived, Christo was off running errands, but I found Dora perched in exactly the same place she spent one of the previous snowstorms, back on March 7.

Dora in the snow

Some video from today:

Christo and Dora have been spending a lot of time together in the park.  On Monday, I caught up with Dora who was enjoying the late afternoon sun despite being mobbed by a pesky blue jay.

Dora and a pesky blue jay

Dora and a pesky blue jay

Christo soon brought Dora a rat, which she took to a nearby tree to eat.  As she did, Christo perched across the street and gazed her way.


Before Dora could even finish her dinner, Christo swooped into the park and pounced on her back.

Christo and Dora mating

Dora made sure to hang on to the rat.

Christo and Dora mating

Christo and Dora mating

With this much mating going on, Dora could lay eggs any time.  In the past, the Washington Square hawks have laid eggs a day or two before Tompkins Square.  As of today, the Washington Square hawks have not started nesting, but you can tune in to Roger Paw's blog for the latest updates on what is happening with Bobby and Sadie.

Christo and Dora

After mating, Christo went to work on the nest and Dora took her rat to a higher branch to finish eating.

Dora takes off with a rat dinner

Dora takes off with a rat dinner

I hope to have an update on the status of Barucha/Nora soon.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Christo and Dora getting serious in Tompkins Square

We finally had a sunny weekend, so I spent both Saturday and Sunday chasing hawks.  According to the informal poll I posted last week, "Barucha" appears to have beat out "Nora" for the name of the second female hawk.  The name reflects her territory and distinguishes her from Dora.

I visited the Baruch Houses over the weekend to check on the nest Christo and Barucha had going on an air-conditioner.  After a day of extreme wind on Friday, it looked like the sticks that had been on top of the air-conditioner had slid down one of the sides.  I wanted to see if the hawks would use the fallen sticks to create a more stable base for the nest.  However, I didn't have any luck seeing any hawks in the area on either Saturday or Sunday, so I'm not sure what the plans are for that nest.

Meanwhile, Dora has been very visible in the neighborhood, spending a lot of time in Tompkins Square as well as perches outside the park.  I was happy to see her sitting alongside Christo atop one of their old favorite hangouts on a 22-story Village View building at First Avenue and 4th Street.  Dora had no problem flying up there and soaring over the area.








Dora and Christo together in Tompkins Square:

Dora and Christo

Christo taking off:

Christo and Dora


Christo and Dora mating

Christo takes a locust branch to the ginkgo tree nest in Tompkins Square:

Christo carries a stick to his nest

Christo in the nest:

Christo in his ginkgo nest

Christo catches a giant rat:

Christo with a rat

The rat was so big, Christo really struggled to fly with it, and he barely cleared the 4' fences around the park.  He and Dora shared this meal.

Christo with a rat

Dora catches the last rays of sun:


Flying down 8th Street:


Dora soaring high:


Christo and Dora have been mating a lot and continue to work on the ginkgo nest.  Dora is due to lay eggs any day, but I'm not sure about the status of Barucha at this time.  She and Christo were mating and sharing food a week ago, but I don't know if they will successfully breed.  Based on what I've observed over the last several days, it looks certain the Tompkins Square nest will play host to a hawk family this season.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What Dora wants, Dora takes

On Monday evening, I happened to see Dora fly up to the cross at St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A and 10th Street.  Normally, this wouldn't be very remarkable, but it's the first time I've seen her fly up there since her release from rehab on February 26.  On this same day, I also saw her fly to the top of one of the Village View buildings on Avenue A, about twenty stories high.  She's doing great.

Dora flies to cross at St Nicholas of Myra

Taking off.

Dora takes off from St Nicholas of Myra


From the cross, Dora met up with Christo who was in a tree eating a pigeon dinner.  I thought he might give it to her, but he seemed to be eating it himself and mantled his meal against her.  But, it was obvious Dora wanted it.  Bad.

Below, Dora is on the right and she's eyeing Christo's catch.


Dora eyes Christo's dinner

Not waiting for an invitation, Dora pounced.


Dora lunges for Christo's dinner

Christo tried to block her with his wing, but she didn't back down.

Gimme gimme gimme!

Dora creeps up on Christo and his dinner

Christo cried out as Dora snatched his meal away.


Dora snatches Christo's dinner

She didn't even say thank you before ravenously ripping into the pigeon.

Christo looks on as Dora eats his dinner

Poor Christo just wanted to eat in peace after a busy day taking care of two mates.  Not to worry!  Christo is an excellent hunter and tonight (Tuesday), he caught three rats in less than half an hour.

More to come.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Exciting new developments in Lower East Side hawk world

The last few days have revealed new information about our LES/Tompkins Square hawk Treesome.

On Friday (March 9), I went down to the Baruch Houses south of Houston where I found two red-tails engaged in nesting activity.  One was flying around with sticks and taking them to an air-conditioner on a high-rise.  The other was on a nearby building vocalizing loudly.  The two hawks met up with each other, and I was able to get a good look at them.

In the photo below, the hawk on the air-conditioner was calling and the one on the roof was the one flying around with nesting material.

Christo and Nora/Barucha

When I zoomed in, I could see the hawk on the roof was definitely Nora.  She has a distinctive face with gray feathers lining her eyes.  She's also large, with a lot of rusty brown pattern on her shoulders and down her flanks.


When I zoomed in to the other hawk, I was shocked to see it was clearly Christo!


There's no mistaking his voice, golden square head, white throat and light chest.  When he took off, I could see his legs which have light brown barring.  He was carrying a small rat and was calling to Nora to come get it.

Christo with a rat

After flying the rat around to a few locations where Nora refused to go, he ended up taking it to her as she perched on an antenna on top of a water tower.

Christo and Nora/Barucha

Christo left the rat on the rooftop and then flew up to Nora and mated.

Christo and Nora/Barucha mating

Christo and Nora/Barucha mating

Afterwards, he took off and she ate the rat.

I don't know why I was so shocked to see Christo in this location. I guess I expected to find another pair of hawks.  Seeing Christo and Nora together got me thinking and I now have a theory about how they came to be together -

In addition to Christo and Dora, there has been a second pair of red-tails on the Lower East Side for quite some time, at least a year.  I don't know if they nested last year, but they were definitely around. A few months ago, there were reports of a dead hawk on an air-conditioner at PS188 on East Houston.  I think that hawk may have been Nora's mate.  Around the same time, or a short while later, Dora went into rehab, so Nora and Christo were suddenly single neighbors.  I think they were close enough to be acquainted and it was convenient for them to team up.  This would explain Nora's odd behavior, being so uninterested in spending time in Tompkins Square and her reluctance to participate in building the ginkgo nest with Christo.  She already had her own territory in the Baruch Houses and preferred to spend her time there.

Nora/Barucha eating lunch on an air-conditioner.

This is just a theory, but it makes sense to me.  Nora seemed to prefer perching on buildings and seeing her in her element in the housing complex, she looked much happier and 'normal' than she did in Tompkins Square Park where she appeared glum.  When Dora was returned to the territory, there probably wasn't any violence between the two females because they likely already knew each other and knew they each had separate territories.

I'm thinking of calling Nora "Barucha" since it reflects her territory.  She is much more than "Not Dora" and Nora/Dora can be confusing in conversation.  The people I spoke with in the area didn't seem to be calling her anything, or I would use that name.

Let's put it to a vote!  If you have a preference between Nora and Barucha, cast your vote here -

survey service

On Sunday, after fulfilling his commitments with Nora/Barucha, Christo returned to Tompkins Square, triumphantly landing on top of the Christodora.

Christo lands on the Christodora House

Below him in the park, Dora perched low in a tree and watched people as they passed by.  Seeing her so close is definitely a new phenomenon.  Before going into rehab, Dora kept her distance, preferring to stay high in the trees and not very visible.  Since being away, her tolerance of human activity seems to have increased. It's nice to see her so relaxed.


As a small gathering of people watched, Dora surprised me by diving down to the ground and catching a rat.  I've only seen her hunt a handful of times in the last 4.5 years, so I was shocked to see her nab something so publicly.  Her strength and skill levels are great and her wonky wing is not preventing her from taking care of herself.


Dora took the rat to a tree where she quickly ate it.  She and Christo did some late afternoon chores at the nest, then both went to roost - he stayed in the park while Dora went to a nearby fire escape.


The exciting news, however, is that fellow hawk-watchers saw Christo and Dora MATING in the park on Saturday evening.  This gives us hope that Christo and Dora will have another brood this year.  It's still too early to know for sure, but things are progressing as they should.



Christo, the Wonder Hawk:


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dora endures thundersnow

I briefly ventured out into the Nor-easter earlier this afternoon to check on Dora in Tompkins Square Park.  It's the second storm she's endured since returning home less than two weeks ago.

I found her perched quietly in a tree, looking just fine.

Dora endures thundersnow

Dora endures thundersnow

I took some video in which you can sort of hear thunder in the first few seconds (just before she shakes) followed by the sound of a fog horn.

A couple of minutes after the video, there was a huge flash of lightning and I felt I had to get away from the trees for my own safety.  The hawks and other wildlife have survived many storms, so I left the park confident Dora is okay.  I didn't see Christo or Nora, but I'm sure they're all right as well.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Christo, Dora and Nora make headlines

Congratulations to Christo, Dora and Nora for making the front cover of the New York Post on Sunday!

After the news of Dora's release into Tompkins Square last week, the Post visited the park and published this article, complete with plenty of Post-style bird puns.  In turn, that article got the attention of other news outlets and both NY1 and CBS New York sent reporters to the park on Sunday to cover the story.  EV Grieve, as always, has excellent continuous coverage of our local avian celebrities.

The hawks themselves are carrying on business as usual.  Each morning, Christo and Dora work on their nest in the ginkgo tree on the east side of the park.  Christo has been stripping bark off a scholar tree near the ping-pong table for lining the nest.  On Saturday, I caught him carrying a pretty big piece.

Christo flying with a piece of bark

Christo flying with a piece of bark

Saturday was windy and sunny and the hawks flew around quite a bit.  I suspect Dora took advantage of the wind that day and flew all the way up to the top of one of the Village View buildings on 6th Street, about 22 floors up.  That is the highest I've seen her perch since her return.

Later in the day, she spend more time in the nest.

Dora in the ginkgo nest

At sunset on Saturday, Dora chased what looked like another raptor out of the park.  This is good news as it means she's getting back into her role as territorial defender.  Afterwards, she perched on top of the Boys Club on Avenue A and 10th Street.  Urban Hawks has some video of her here

In the video, you can see how her left wing flops out as she perches.  Her wing is not broken and she is no longer injured.  This is just how she is now and she's doing fine.  I realize people might see her and be alarmed at the sight of her wing looking that way, but she is okay.

On Sunday afternoon, an immature red-tail suddenly appeared in a tree near the nest and Dora chased it away, further proving she is recovering nicely.  Dora then flew to a high terrace on the Christodora building and kept watch of the area for almost an hour.

Dora on the Christodora

Dora on the Christodora

Eventually, Dora took off and flew to a high perch on a building at 7th Street and Avenue B, where she was immediately mobbed by crows.

Dora gets mobbed by crows

Dora gets mobbed by a crow

She didn't seem phased and the crows moved on.

Just before sunset, Dora caught and ate a pigeon at CHARAS on 10th Street.  Urban Hawks has more photos and video of her here.

Dora at CHARAS

After dinner, Dora perched on a building along Avenue B and watched the sun go down.  She's always loved sunsets, usually watching them from the cross at Most Holy Redeemer church on 3rd Street.  As yet, Dora has not made it to that perch (the highest in the neighborhood), but I have confidence she'll be back up at her favorite spot soon.

Dora at sunset

Meanwhile, I caught a glimpse of Nora perched on top of a Village View building around mid-day on Sunday.  Christo disappears from the park for long periods of time during the day, and I'm assuming he's with Nora, but I haven't been able to find out if they have a second nest or what exactly they're up to.  He returns to the park at the end of the day and both he and Dora roost in or near the park. 

This evening, I saw Christo deliver a big rat to Dora before going to roost in the Krishna Tree.  Even if they don't have a family this year, they are still a well-bonded pair.