Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tompkins Square hawks busy in the park

I've really been enjoying the pre-nesting season this year in Tompkins Square.  Hawks Christo and Dora have been spending a lot of time in the park, keeping active by hunting, mating and building their nest.  It's always a thrill for me to see them go through their rituals as these are things I likely could never see out in the 'wild'.

Just seeing the two of them together is special.  And during this time of year, seeing them near each other usually means one thing...

Christo approaches Dora

Mating time!

Hawks mating in Tompkins Square

Hawks mating in Tompkins Square

Afterwards, it's usually stick-gathering time.  Here, Dora collects a twig from a tree.

Dora with a stick

And takes it to the nest.

Dora with a stick

Christo goes to cut a stick with his beak.

Christo cuts a stick

Someone recently asked me if the hawks always cut the sticks with their beaks, or if I've ever seen them break branches with their talons.  It's an interesting question that I've not considered before.  I'm not sure that I've ever seen them use their talons, but I'm sure it could be done that way.  I have seen them switch from carrying sticks in their beaks to their talons, and vice versa. 

I also once saw Christo sit on a branch which broke under his weight.  As he and the branch fell, he caught it with his talons.  It was an awesome move, but I think it was an accident.

Christo cuts a stick

Saturday afternoon, Christo caught a pigeon near the Farmers Market on Avenue A, which attracted a large crowd of spectators.

Christo catches a pigeon

He calmly stayed on the ground for several minutes, contemplating his escape route.

Christo catches a pigeon

In the end, he opted to take a long flight over the grass as people were lined up along the fence.

Christo catches a pigeon

You can see here he is still only about six feet off the ground after the long take-off. 

Christo catches a pigeon

Christo took the pigeon to the big elm near the Temperance Fountain and called to Dora. When she didn't respond, he flew it to a tree closer to where she was perched.

Christo with a pigeon

Christo with a pigeon

There, he proceeded to prepare her meal as she came over and watched.

Christo with a pigeon

When Christo had plucked the pigeon to her liking, Dora took it to a branch near the flagpole where she finished off the meal.

Dora with a pigeon

After the big dinner, she rested as the sun went down.

Dora

To be continued...


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