Monday, May 20, 2019

Checking in on the Tompkins Square hawk family

Checking in on the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk family this week, and everybody looks to be doing well.

On a recent visit, I found Christo babysitting.

Father and kid

Below, mom Amelia sits in the nest while one of the two youngsters looks out.

Mom and chick



Later, Christo delivered dinner and the whole family crowded into the nest. In the photo below, one nestling is behind leaves on the far left, the other is peeking up at the center of the nest, and Amelia looks on as Christo tears up a rodent into bite-sized pieces.

Dinner is served

The nest is deep, so it's surprising to see how big the chicks are when they stand up.

Tompkins red-tail nestling

They're already losing down on their backs and wings, revealing dark brown flight feathers. And the tail feathers are coming in as can be seen on the chick below on the left. The tail looks to be about 3-4 inches long and has a colorful pattern. I hope this remains as the tail grows as it could help us identify who is who later on.

So far, the chicks look good and everything seems to be progressing normally.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tompkins Square hawk babies stretch their wings

The red-tailed hawk nest in Tompkins Square Park is deep with high sides, so getting a good look at the chicks has been a challenge. They've finally grown enough to be seen fairly well from the ground.

Fuzzy little dinosaur

We can confirm there are two chicks and they are still at the cute fuzzy stage.


Both have been getting exercise, standing up and flapping those little wings.


It's not visible in these photos, but the chick on the left has more pin feathers on its wings, indicating it is likely the older of the two siblings. Otherwise, they look alike.



Mom Amelia is now able to take extended breaks from the nest, giving the kids room to move around. She can keep an eye on them from the cross at St Brigid's church on Avenue B, where she is also vulnerable to mobbing by blue jays.

Amelia and a blue jay

This jay annoyed her while she preened, but she played it cool, doing her best to ignore it. Blue jays, mockingbirds, robins and other smaller birds will often harass the hawks, especially now during nesting season.

Amelia and a blue jay

All is looking good for the Tompkins Square hawks and things seem to be progressing as they should.

Meanwhile, there is some concern over at Washington Square Park about the male (known as Bobby), who has been missing this last week. Roger Paw and Urban Hawks both have posts on the subject. You can tune into the live NYU hawk cam to keep up with the three chicks. I hope they all do well and there is a positive outcome for that hawk family.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Two chicks confirmed for Tompkins Square hawks

Two chicks are confirmed for Tompkins Square Park red-tails, Christo and Amelia. Could there be a third? We'll have to wait and see.

Hatch was noted on April 20, although it's possible hatching could have started earlier. Since then, the parents have been observed feeding at the nest, but I have been unable to see any babies until today.

Below, Amelia feeds a bright red piece of something to a fuzzy white chick.

Amelia feeds her chick

Nom! Nom! Nom!

Amelia feeds her chick

The second chick is barely visible to the left of the one in the foreground. Its dark beak can be seen to the left of the vertical stick that is poking up towards Amelia's chest.

2nd chick barely visible on left 

This nest is deeper than the one the hawks used last year, so it's been difficult to see what's going on up there. As the chicks grow and get curious, we should be able to get better views of them peering over the edge.

So far, all seems well for this hawk family.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Happy Earth Day! Hatch time in Tompkins Square

Good news! The Tompkins Square hawks have had at least one hatch over the weekend.

I believe a hatch started or occurred on Saturday, April 20. The behavior of parents, Christo and Amelia changed that day - she kept fussing around in the nest and sitting up higher, indicating something was going on underneath her. Christo also made two food deliveries to the nest.  There had been a heavy rainfall the night before, and Christo brought in several pieces of bark, possibly to create a new dry layer in the nest.

This evening, I watched Christo again deliver food to the nest, but it was raining, so Amelia was reluctant to get up.

Meanwhile, the Washington Square Park hawks have had a hatch and you can watch the nest activity on the live NYU hawk cam. For more details and updates on the Washington Square hawk family, check out Roger Paw's blog.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

We're on hatch-watch in Tompkins Square

We're on hatch-watch for red-tails, Christo and Amelia, in Tompkins Square Park. Assuming Amelia laid her first egg on March 13, we can estimate hatch time will be in the next few days.

This has been the scene for the last five weeks (Amelia on the nest):


This evening, I found Christo on the nest when I arrived at the park.

Christo brooding

As Amelia swooped in, Christo was barely visible peeking over the edge of the nest.

Amelia flies in while Christo peeks over the edge

Amelia had to maneuver her huge wings through all the tiny branches of the ginkgo tree. Note the leaves are beginning to unfurl. Soon, it will be much more difficult to get a clear view of the nest.

Amelia maneuvers onto the nest

A short while later, a blue jay harassed Christo, taking advantage of him as he preened.

Christo mobbed by a blue jay

Meanwhile, more spring migrants are appearing in the park, like this pretty little Swamp Sparrow.

Swamp sparrow 

You can see all the recent bird sightings in Tompkins Square on eBird. The next few weeks should see an increase in bird species as they migrate north for the breeding season.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Gearing up for osprey nesting season in the NYC area

It's that time of year when Ospreys make their way back north to their nesting grounds, but not everyone is welcoming them home.

Sky rage

A great place to safely observe ospreys without being intrusive is Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Over the weekend, I spotted four pairs as they worked on their nests and went fishing.

I watched one individual who kept flying back and forth over the water, then diving in at specific points. It would fly one way, dive in and get completely submerged, then flap its way out of the water and fly back the other way, diving in again about a hundred feet from where it started.

Osprey bathing

It repeated this about ten times before gulls chased it out of the area.

Osprey taking a plunge

Osprey taking a dip

Later in the day, the ospreys flew close overhead and I could see them much better. Their lanky black and white wings are so beautiful when they glide through the air.



This is a pair - one individual in the two shots above, and a second individual below.


There are a few nest platforms at the refuge that can be seen well with binoculars or a scope. Look closely at the nest pictured below - I believe that's a shirt hanging off the right side.

Osprey with laundry

And as I watched, the osprey cleared some junk out of the top of the nest and flew away with it. A little spring cleaning to spruce up the nest in preparation for eggs.

Osprey taking out the trash

Be sure to check out my favorite live Osprey Cam, which documents a pair, Iris and Louis, just outside of Hellgate Canyon, near Missoula, Montana. Iris is estimated to be about 24 years old, making her one of the oldest ospreys in the world. She's an incredible creature and they're both fascinating to watch.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pigeon: it's what's for dinner

Red-tails, Christo and Amelia, are still brooding eggs in Tompkins Square and everything seems to be going as it should. I'm estimating hatching should happen in the next couple of weeks.

In the mean time, there's not much hawk activity to see except when they trade off shifts on the nest. Below, Amelia soars over me on her way to stretch her wings and get some dinner.


Dinner was previously prepared and delivered by Christo, who caught a white pigeon.

Christo with dinner delivery

Before delivering the pigeon, Christo took the front half for himself, saving Amelia the meaty bits.

It's what's for dinner

He left dinner on a branch for Amelia to pick up while he took over brooding the eggs. Below, Amelia pauses before tucking into her meal.


A little stretch first:

Amelia stretching

Fanning her beautiful tail:

Amelia waggles her tiny little talons...April fools!

Outside the park, there are still some young red-tails around, such as this one seen in Stuyvesant Town. Judging by its bulging crop, it recently ate a big meal.

Immature red-tail

And with spring bird migration under way, there are more small birds passing through the area, like this cute little Chipping Sparrow that was foraging on the lawn in Tompkins Square.

Chipping Sparrow

To plan for the best time to see spring migrants, check out Birdcast, which uses radar and weather information to predict bird movements across the continent.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Spring shower for Amelia

This has been the scene recently in Tompkins Square:

Amelia brooding

That's Amelia, barely visible in the nest as she broods her eggs. The nest looks to be rounder and deeper than last year's model which was oblong and seemingly shallow.  This is the first nest Christo and Amelia built together, so it's interesting to see that it is slightly different than the one Christo previously built with Dora in the same tree.

While Amelia spends most of her time in the nest, Christo can be found nearby on some of their favorite perches, like the cross at St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A and 10th Street.


On Sunday, I caught the two hawks peering down into the nest. I wish they could tell us how many eggs are in there.

Christo & Amelia checking out their eggs

As I watched, Christo took over egg brooding duties and Amelia flew over my head.


She landed on the roof of St Brigid's church on Avenue B and proceeded to take a bath in the gutter.

Amelia in the gutter

We previously saw Amelia do this last July when the weather was particularly hot.


Shake, shake, shake!

Amelia bathing

Amelia bathing

Looking thoroughly wet:

Amelia bathing

Amelia took a big stretch before flying back to the park. She flew around and relaxed for about an hour before returning to the nest.

Amelia takes off after a bath

Meanwhile, other signs of spring are appearing in the park. Spring bird migration is underway and this little Field Sparrow stopped in to forage on the lawn.

Field sparrow

The sparrow was accompanied by a flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos. These birds remind me of the end of winter, so I'm always happy to see them.