Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nature stubbornly persists

Neither bird spikes nor plexiglass will keep Christo and Dora away from their chosen nest location.

This was the scene at the Christodora today:

Christo and Dora on the nest 
Christo on the left, Dora on the right.

Christo and Dora on the nest

Under normal circumstances, this would be a happy occasion, but I was not pleased to see this.  It means the hawks are still determined to build their nest here and don't seem to be working on finding an alternative site.  Granted, they struck gold when they found this place as it's perfect in so many ways for a nest, but as the building is about to undergo some major construction, this is not good.

The plexiglass solution is just not working.  You can see the glass here at a slant to the left of Christo.

Christo on the nest

I'm not an authority on this, but maybe it would be a good idea to either cover the entire a/c surface or put something out there like a family of plastic owls.  I'm worried the birds will waste their time and energy on this nest location, and could get hurt in the process.

In other news, I found Dora in hot pursuit of an intruder yesterday.  At first, I thought she was chasing pigeons down Avenue A, but she made a strange high-pitched chattering cry and performed some acrobatics over 7th Street.

Dora chases an intruder

It turned out she was looking up at a juvenile hawk, who can be seen sailing past her at the upper part of this photo.

Dora chases an intruder

She and Christo both patrolled this block for a while, then chased what I assume was the same juvenile (it could have been a different one) around Avenue B & 7th Street.

Near the end of the day, Dora disappeared (I've never discovered where she goes) while Christo stayed in the park to hunt.

Christo, king of the park

Finding all his food frozen, he settled for Fresh Direct.

Christo gets his Fresh Direct delivery

The sunshine is deceiving as it was about 4 degrees and my hands were frozen.


Cold is no problem for the hawks, though.

Dora and Christo 
Dora on the left, Christo on the right.

I'm hoping something can be done to dissuade the birds from continuing with their nest-building on the Christodora so they have time to find a suitable site.  If anyone sees them taking sticks to any other location, please let me know.

See more photos on my Flickr page.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wintertime at Montauk

The pre-blizzard scene at Montauk this last weekend...

Pre-blizzard evening at Montauk

The calm after the storm.


Snow swirling on the beach.

Snow blowing on the beach at Montauk

Ice formations on the sand.

Ice on the beach at Montauk



Montauk sunset

See more Montauk photos here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Moving on

Now that it's clear Christo and Dora will not be able to nest on the Christodora this season, the question is, what will they decide to do?

I found them both in Tompkins Square today in the big tree near Avenue A & 7th Street.

Christo is on the lower left, Dora on the right.

Christo and Dora

They shared a pigeon for lunch, then disappeared SW, towards 1st Avenue and 6th Street.  I've seen them flying that way pretty often, but they always return to the park.

Christo soon returned and caught and ate another pigeon in the park.  Then he seemed to be actively hunting again along Avenue A, but he flew off again towards 6th Street.  A short time later, he reappeared and perched atop St Brigid's church on Ave B & 8th Street.

Christo atop St Brigids

From there, he made an awkward lunge towards a window across the street and I wasn't sure if he was going after something or scouting out a possible nest location.

Both hawks circled around the Christodora for a while and Christo performed some nice kiting right over the top.  He hung there for almost a minute.

Christo kiting over the Christodora

Both hawks kept flying high over the park and I lost them when they flew NE towards Ave C & 11th Street.  As it was so brutally cold out (10 degrees and windy), I couldn't keep up.

Then, on my way home, I spotted a hawk sitting atop a chimney on the Village View apartments on 6th Street between Avenue A & 1st.  It was too far away for me to be able to identify it.

Hawk perched on Village View apartments

Eventually, it flew east over Avenue A and I lost it.

I did not see any stick-gathering today, nor did I see any attempts at mating.  I take this to mean the hawks' nesting plan has been thwarted, so they're taking a break until a new site is found.  If anyone sees them flying with sticks or nesting material, please let me know.

Meanwhile, it looks like hawk love is in the air over at Washington Square Park.

Here are our two lovebirds a year ago on Valentine's Day.  Christo is on the left, Dora on the right.


See more hawk photos on my Flickr page.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hawk drama update

There's been a lot of drama surrounding the hawk nest on the Christodora building over the last few days.  Last Friday, some fellow hawk-watchers saw that the nest had been removed and bird spikes installed.  You can see images of the spikes over at Urban Hawks.

On Saturday, the hawks were going about their usual business of gathering sticks. On Sunday, I spent about two hours watching them completely rebuild the nest.

This was the state of things on Sunday, with Christo on the left and Dora on the right.

Christo and Dora

Christo cutting sticks from a tree...

Christo cutting sticks for his nest

...and carrying a stick to the nest.

Christo carries a stick to his nest

Dora put in as much work as Christo. Last year, it seemed Christo did all the building while Dora supervised, but this time, both birds are working equally hard.

Here, Dora carries a stick to the nest.

Dora collecting sticks

And here she is delivering it to Christo whose tail is sticking out of the nest.

Dora takes sticks to the nest

I love watching Christo peel bark from the trees.  He's so industrious.

Christo peels bark for his nest

Christo peels bark for his nest

Here he is with bark from another favorite tree.  You can see how he's stripped part of the branch bare.

Christo and a piece of bark for his nest

By late Monday, the nest was gone again.

Today, the birds made attempts to take sticks to the nest again, but the sticks were removed.  At one point near the end of the day, both birds circled over Avenue B and screamed.  I wanted to scream, too!

However, it looks like there is a reason for the nest removal.  The unofficial word on the street is the Christodora building is about to undergo a major renovation project and the building will be covered in scaffolding.  In that case, it's reasonable to try and prevent the birds from nesting at this stage rather than dealing with trouble later.

There is still time for the hawks to find a new nesting location.  Where that could be, though, I don't know.  They can't nest in the trees in Tompkins Square because there are too many squirrels who would destroy it.  I'm just hoping they pick a new place nearby where we can still observe them and enjoy the whole experience.

Yesterday and today, I saw Christo attempt to mate with Dora, but she wouldn't let it happen.  My birdwatcher friends tell me she won't agree to mate until a nest is built, so I hope that happens soon.

In the mean time, Christo still patrols the park...

Christo hunting for dinner 

UPDATE:  Urban Hawks also has a post on this subject.

See more hawk photos on my Flickr page.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Not so long ago

During this crummy winter week, I've been trawling through my photo archives and reliving summer.  I came across these shots from last June that I never got around to posting.

This is Christo flying past 1 World Trade on a hot and hazy afternoon.

Christo and the WTC

I shot this from Avenue B & 9th Street.  He is flying southeast, probably over Houston.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the whole building in the frame, but at the time, I was pretty excited about this.

And here he is flying past the Woolworth Building.  I think the building on the left is the perpetually-unfinished hotel at Orchard and Houston.

Christo and the Woolworth Building

Earlier that same day, Dora flew circles with a kestrel over Tompkins Square.

Dora and a kestrel

Christo, coming home.


Currently, the hawks are busy building their nest. I've been out there over the last few days to see them, but the weather has made taking pictures difficult and it's not been very fun slogging around the park in the slush.  More interesting updates to come...

Monday, February 2, 2015


While waiting for the hawks in Tompkins Square, I founds a few other critters to pose for me.


Double trouble.



Mr Sparrow.

Mr Sparrow

Mr Sparrow

Ms Sparrow.

Christmas sparrow in Tompkins Square