Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Molt time for Christo and Amelia

As summer rolls on, the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks continue to hang around the neighborhood. There hasn't been much activity since Christo and Amelia constructed the second nest in the park.

Monday afternoon, I found the pair relaxing atop the cross of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street.

Amelia and Christo

Amelia is on the left and Christo is on the right. You can really see the difference in their coloring. She is much darker.

Amelia and Christo

Christo is also beginning to molt, which makes him look especially pale. It's most evident around his eyes and on his head.

Amelia and Christo

You can also see how much bigger Amelia is than Christo. In the photo below, Christo has disappeared behind Amelia, with only his toe visible sticking out to the right of her.


Amelia has been spending a lot of time perched on the church and I often find her in the shade of the dome. I imagine she gets a nice breeze up there.


Later, as the sun started going down, Christo resettled on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church at E 10th Street.


Amelia soon joined him.

Amelia & Christo

You can see by looking at Amelia's tail that she is in the process of molting. She has eight old tail feathers, two new ones growing in, and is missing two more. She also appears to have new feathers growing in on her wings. Her appearance doesn't seem to change as dramatically as Christo during molt time.

Amelia & Christo

I spent almost three hours with the hawks as they watched the sun go down. At 9pm, Christo was still on the cross and Amelia flew over to the Village View complex on First Avenue, so I had to call it a day.

Amelia & Christo

Monday, June 24, 2019

Christo and Amelia build a frustration nest in Tompkins Square

We have not yet received an update from the Department of Environmental Conservation on the cause of death of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chicks. We'll post any information here as soon as we get it.

In the mean time, parents Christo and Amelia can still be found in and around the park.

Christo and Amelia

Christo and Amelia

Christo and Amelia

In a new development, they have built a "frustration" nest, or alternate nest, in the tree where Christo and Dora raised their tenth offspring in 2017.

Frustration nest

This is something I've seen ospreys do when they experience a nest failure, so it's interesting to see red-tailed hawks do it as well.

Frustration nest

Several people have asked me if this means the hawks will lay more eggs this year. Short answer: No. The breeding time for the hawks is generally February - May, so it is too late in the year to start again. The hawks undergo hormonal changes in the spring that lead up to egg-laying, and that time has passed.

However, nest-building is bonding activity, so it's a good sign. It shows Christo and Amelia are working together and maintaining their territory and partnership. Although I'm really sad not to have baby hawks playing in the park this summer, I'm happy to see the adults staying close to home and remaining visible.

Last evening, I found Amelia perched on the dome of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street.


And, this evening, she took in the last bit of sunlight from a high branch in the park.


It's been a challenge to see the hawks lately among the lush leaves of the park trees, but they can be found near both nest sites, on the east side of the park and near the Temperance Fountain.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sad update on Tompkins Square red-tail chick

I'm sorry to report the Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk chick passed away tonight.

The chick was in the care of WINORR, who tried their best to save it, but its illness/injuries were just too advanced. The remains will be sent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for testing to determine the cause of illness and death.

This is a devastating loss for Christo and Amelia, who also lost one of their offspring last year. It will be helpful to know what happened to this year's chicks and we will post an update if/when we are notified.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Update on the Tompkins Square hawk chick

Following Thursday's post where we expressed concern for the surviving Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chick, we have some updated information.

Tompkins red-tail nestling 

This morning, between 6-6:30am, the chick fell out of the nest. Ranger Rob from the NYC Urban Park Rangers was able to retrieve it and take it to Animal Medical Center for treatment. It spent the day on an IV drip. The hawk will be transported to Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) tonight.

It's still not known what exactly is wrong with the hawk, but it is extremely weak and in bad shape. Tests are being done and we will update if/when we know something conclusive. In the meantime, the hawk is getting the best care possible.

THANK YOU to the resident who saw the hawk fall - without that witness, the hawk would not have survived the day.

And big thanks to Ranger Rob, the staff at AMC, and Bobby and Cathy Horvath at WINORR who are doing their best to save our little guy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Concern for the remaining Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

It's been a week since one of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk nestlings passed away and I am concerned about the surviving sibling. Although it looked okay at the time of the last post, it seems to now be suffering from some kind of illness.

We still don't know what killed the other nestling and the body has not been recovered. I'm not sure if the parents removed it from the tree, or if it's still up there somewhere. Unfortunately, without the remains, it won't be possible to do any testing and get definite answers about the fate of the hawk.

Drying out

On the morning of May 31, after the first chick (I think it was the younger of the two) passed away, the surviving sibling stood on the edge of the nest and tried to dry its wet feathers.

Drying out

There had been a thunderstorm the night before - one of many in recent weeks - and the chick was totally soaked. You can see water droplets on the leaves in front of the hawk in the photo below. I don't know if the continuous wet weather conditions have had anything to do with the health of the birds.

Drying out

This morning (June 6), I found the nestling perched in the same place, but it kept one or both eyes closed, which is not normal.

Not looking well

At this age, the hawk should be jumping, flapping, and exploring the tree. Instead, it has spent most of the week sitting still or lying down. It does seem to have an appetite, so I hope food is giving it strength.

Tompkins red-tail nestling

Not looking well

Below, you can actually see three flies on the chick's wing.

Tompkins red-tail nestling with flies

At this point, there is nothing anyone can do to help. The nest is inaccessible and it is not known what is wrong. It's possible the nestling can pull through what ever is ailing it, and maybe food and rest are what it needs.  I had originally predicted this hawk would fledge the first week of June, but it's apparent that is not going to happen.

Best case scenario is the hawk recovers, takes its time, and fledges later. The three hawklets over at Washington Square Park are a few days younger that the Tompkins chick, and they are doing very well despite losing their dad. You can follow the activities of that family over at Roger Paw's blog.

Earlier in the week, Urban Hawks paid a visit to Tompkins Square and took some video of the nestling. Note the windy conditions blowing the leaves around and obscuring the nest, which has been one of the factors making this nest so difficult to observe.

Fingers crossed there will be a happy outcome here. I will update as I know more.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sad hawk news from Tompkins Square

I'm sorry to report it appears one of the Tompkins Square hawk chicks has passed away. The cause is unknown, but it happened some time last night between 7pm and 6am.

This nest has been difficult to observe as it is very high and obscured by leaves. This photo was taken on May 27 (Memorial Day) when I was able to catch a brief glimpse of Amelia and the chick.

Amelia and her chick

Based on feather development, I am guessing this was the younger of the two nestlings, although they were hard to tell apart early on, as shown in this photo taken May 10.


We lost a fledgling last year to a combination of rodenticide and West Nile virus. The year before that, another fledgling died and tested positive for West Nile. It's not possible at this time to say what killed this chick, but the same dangers still exist in our environment. The Parks Department does not use rodenticide in Tompkins Square, but it is used all over the neighborhood on private property and in some community gardens. West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, so any standing water is a breeding ground for them.

I will post any updates if/when I know anything.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Chick pics

The red-tailed hawk nest in Tompkins Square Park has been extremely difficult to see this year due to the foliage and windy weather that blows the branches around. The chicks have mostly been keeping low in the nest.

Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

Over the last few days, I've managed to catch a few glimpses of the nestlings who still have downy white heads, but are growing dark brown wings and tails.

Tompkins red-tail nestlings

Tompkins red-tail nestlings

They are also developing some color on their chests.

Tompkins red-tail nestling

Below, mom Amelia enters from stage-left and you can get a sense of the size of the chick, who is nearly as tall as mom.

Amelia and chick

Amelia and chick

There's a big world beyond the nest waiting to be discovered...

Tompkins red-tail nestling

Tompkins Squaer red-tail nestling

Tompkins Squaer red-tail nestling 

Assuming the babies hatched on/around April 20, we can expect fledge time to be in the next couple of weeks. However, there is no rush and the kids are free to take their time.

If you want to see young red-tails practicing their pre-fledge moves, be sure to check out the live NYU Hawk Cam over at Washington Square Park. Better yet, take a walk over there to see them in person!

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.