Winter holiday time is traditionally when we see an uptick in hawk action around the neighborhood. This year is no exception, but the recent string of dark and overcast days has made photography a challenge. Below are a few highlights from days when the clouds parted enough for me to capture Christo, Amelia and a few intruders in their territory.
I found Christo perched on the east side of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street on a bright and cold morning.
Amelia often perches on the church cross, but I have yet to see her join Christo at the base of the dome like Dora used to do.
Earlier this week, Christo made an impressive dive from the roof of the Christodora House...
...to his flagpole throne in Tompkins Square.
Here is a closer look at Christo's pretty brown eyes. When he first arrived in the neighborhood five years ago, his eyes were a much lighter amber. They've deepened in color as he's matured.
Amelia's eye color is light brown and can be seen even as she soars. This has been one way for me to identify her at a distance, although it's not very reliable as her eye color will also change with age.
Christo and Amelia have been spending a lot of time defending their territory against other young red-tails, who have been pretty brazen about coming into the park. The one pictured below kept flying around Tompkins Square despite being chased by both resident adults.
Below is another immature red-tail on 2nd Street who just wouldn't take a hint when Christo and Amelia kept diving at it. They chased it over to First Avenue, then into the Village View housing complex.
Cooper's hawks are also in the area. I've counted at least one adult and two immature Cooper's hawks around the park, but there could be more. In the past, the red-tails have mostly tolerated the Cooper's hawks, but as nesting season approaches, Christo and Amelia are getting more aggressive about chasing them out of the area. Below is an immature Cooper's on 6th Street near Avenue A.
This is another immature Cooper's hawk in the New York City Marble Cemetery on E 2nd Street.
Most of the hawk activity I've been seeing has been happening high in the air over Tompkins Square and the surrounding streets. As the weather improves and we see some sunny days, the hawks should be easier to spot, especially now that the trees have lost their leaves.
As yet, there has been no sign of nest-building, but Christo and Amelia have been hanging out in the ginkgo tree on the east side of Tompkins, so I hope they choose to use that location again for their nest. This will be the first nest Christo and Amelia construct together, as the previous one was built by Dora, and then mostly by Christo as he spent last winter without her. We can look forward to seeing stick-gathering and other nesting activity in January/February.
Until then, Christo is staying vigilant in Tompkins Square.