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.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dora is settling in well, dealing with bad weather

Red-tailed Dora is settling back in to Tompkins Square pretty well.  She and Christo have been working on the ginkgo nest together in the mornings and she's been spending her days in and around the park.

I was worried about how Dora was doing in today's nor-easter storm, so I ventured out to the park this afternoon and found her perched in a tree near the chess tables.

Talk about a bad hair day...

Bad hair day

I was concerned about Dora's droopy wing and how she was dealing with it in the wind, but she seemed to be managing just fine.  Here's some video:

This is how she looked on Wednesday, when weather conditions were much better.


Her left wing will likely always flop out like that.  She can pull it in, but as she perches, the wing relaxes and drops down.  She has healed from her injury and there were no broken bones, so this is just the way it is.  Dora can fly, so she just needs to readjust to the way she is now.


Up in the ginkgo nest:

Dora in the ginkgo nest



I hope to have more updates this weekend after the weather improves.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Immature red-tail hangs out in Tompkins while Christo, Dora and Nora sort themselves out

I'm still catching up on all the hawk excitement of this last week.  After Dora's return to Tompkins Square on Monday, there hasn't been any conflict between the three adult hawks.  Christo and Dora have been working on the ginkgo nest together each morning and I suspect Christo is leaving food for Dora in the nest.  No one has seen her hunt yet, but she seems to be eating, so I think he is taking care of her although I haven't actually caught Christo making a food delivery. 

Nora has not been seen since Tuesday, but I'm sure she's still over in the Avenue D area.  Christo is still shuttling back and forth between Avenue D and the park, so he's worked out a schedule for managing his time.  When I left the park tonight, Dora was in the ginkgo nest and Christo was in a tree in the park near Avenue B and 7th Street.

Meanwhile, as the three adult hawks have been the focus of all the attention, an immature red-tail has been camped out in the park.  It showed up Tuesday afternoon and has spent at least two days in Tompkins under the noses (or, beaks) of Christo and Dora.  In the below photo, you can tell it's an immature hawk by its yellow eyes.

Immature red-tail

As all three adult hawks were out of the park Tuesday afternoon, this young one flew around and spent at least a couple of hours attempting to catch a rat near the ginkgo nest.

Immature red-tail

Immature red-tail

Immature red-tail

Finally, it made one last dive...

Immature red-tail dives for prey

...and nabbed the prize.

Immature red-tail catches a rat

Immature red-tail catches a rat

Immature red-tail catches a rat

The hawk perched with its rat right next to the Avenue B playground, where all the children screamed with delight.

Immature red-tail with a rat

Then it flew its meal to a bigger tree on the east side of the park where it spent the remainder of the day eating, then eventually going to roost.

Immature red-tail with a rat

Normally, Dora would not let any other hawk, especially another red-tail, into her territory let alone the park.  I kept waiting for her to appear and chase the young hawk off and steal its food, but she never did.  I think she's still resting up and getting her strength back.

Where was Christo when this was happening?  He was on top of the Christodora, of course, supervising the construction on the roof.

Is that knot tied correctly?

Christo supervises construction atop the Christodora

I thought Christo might chase off the young hawk and steal its food, but he never did.  Instead, he caught his own rat, ate some of it, then flew around with the rest calling for either/both Dora/Nora to come get it, but no one ever responded.

Christo catches a dinner rat

Christo ended up taking the rat to the cross at Most Holy Redeemer church on 3rd Street and ate it, then returned to the park where he went to roost in a tree not far away from the immature hawk.

The immature hawk also spent the following day in the park, catching and eating a pigeon behind the park offices. It perched in a tree over the eastern birdbath and didn't move for hours.  At the time, Dora was on a cellphone repeater on Avenue A and never showed any concern for the young intruder.  There is currently enough food to go around, so everyone is well-fed and content.

To be continued...