Thursday, April 28, 2016

Feeding time in Tompkins Square

With at least one hungry hatchling in the Tompkins Square hawk nest, dad Christo has more mouths to feed.  I found him Wednesday evening preparing dinner - a large rat - behind the park offices.

Christo with a rat

Sticking his tongue out...

Christo sticks his tongue out

Then it was off to deliver dinner to the nest.  He made sure to give me a nice close look at the rat as he flew past.

Christo with a rat

Christo with a rat

I had a hard time getting a good angle on the nest as the sun went down.  In a couple of weeks, it may be impossible to see due to leaves being in the way.  In the photo below, Christo stands guard while Dora does the feeding.  Her tail is just visible sticking out of the nest below the horizontal branch.

Feeding at the nest

To my surprise, Christo didn't react at all when this Peregrine falcon flew overhead.  It circled high above the nest a few times before drifting north.

After dinner service ended, Christo flew to his favorite perch on the flagpole where he was promptly mobbed by a blue jay.

Christo harrassed by a blue jay

Another day done.

Christo on his throne

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reason to look up #645: Kestrels

Look up at the corners of buildings and you might spot a kestrel.  Here is a male and female on the Lower East Side.


I keep hearing that kestrel populations are on the decline.  Here in the city, kestrels like to nest in the cornices of tenements, which are rapidly being replaced by new featureless glass buildings. 

Female kestrel


Female kestrel


Male kestrel

This male kestrel stuffed himself into this tiny hole and just chilled out for a while, watching activity on the street below.

Male kestrel

Male kestrel

Male kestrel

Male kestrel

They're beautiful little falcons, and are such a sweet surprise to observe in the city. 

Male kestrel 


Monday, April 25, 2016

Feedings commence at the hawk nest in Tompkins Square

This last Saturday (April 23), I caught Dora in what appeared to be the act of feeding at the nest.  Her back end stuck out of the nest and she did the telltale head-bobbing, indicating at least one egg has hatched.

Dora - first feeding

Meanwhile, Christo remained on guard at the nest.  At one point, he remained vigilant for a couple of hours.

Christo guards the nest

Dora eventually emerged to stretch, but did not fly off.

Dora stretches

Here is the nest from a different angle.  Christo is on the branch to the right and Dora's dark head is barely visible above the rim of the nest. 

Dora and Christo

Christo made several food deliveries to the nest.  Here, he grabs an adult starling from the ground.

Christo with a starling

Christo with a starling

On Sunday, he caught and delivered a baby starling.

Christo delivers a baby starling to the nest

Later in the day, I saw him take up another adult starling, then raided a blue jay nest.  He seemed to be focused on small prey.

Below, Christo removes what I thought were leftovers.

Christo clears food from the nest

It turned out he just needed to prepare the food a bit more, so he took it to a nearby tree, plucked the feathers, then took it back to Dora in the nest.

Christo with food

Christo with food

The two of them stayed on the nest for a really long time.  On Sunday, I didn't see Dora take a break until 7pm.

Dora & Christo

The proud papa.

Christo, king of the flagpole


Based on previous years, if we assume the first hatch was on April 23, we can estimate fledge time to be in 45-50 days, which would be around June 7-12. 

It will be interesting to see whether or not the ability to climb the branches of the tree will make a difference in the development of the young hawk(s) this time around.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hatch time in Tompkins Square

This last Saturday (April 23), feedings were witnessed at Christo and Dora's nest in Tompkins Square, so we can conclude at least one hawk egg has hatched.  Photos will follow, but I just wanted to get the news out.

Happy spring!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunting with Christo

I caught up with Christo the hawk in Tompkins Square late Sunday just after he and Dora made a nest-switch.  She'd been on break, and after she returned, Christo went hunting for dinner.

He started out at his usual perch atop the flagpole in front of the park offices.

Christo, king of the sky

After about 15 minutes, he took off towards me as I stood in the garden behind the offices.

The world on his shoulders

He appeared to employ a tactic I've seen him do a few times before.  He seems to know that I will stay still, so he came as close to me as possible, then flew inches over my head and landed on a fence directly behind me.


I think he uses me (and other observers) as shields so he can sneak up on what ever is behind me.  In this case, it was rats running around near a garbage can.  He landed on the fence with his back to me and didn't even glance my way - I took this to mean he trusts that I won't interfere.

Christo, ready to pounce

You can see the concentration on his face as he crouches like a cat.

Christo, ready to pounce

He did hop down to the ground, but what ever he was interested in got away.  He then turned his attention to an area on the other side of the garden where rats were rustling in the bushes.

Christo hunts for rats

Christo hunts for rats

Several rats ran along the fence, but Christo was unable to nab any of them.

Christo hunts for rats

Christo hunts for rats

At this point, there was quite a crowd of people around, which was probably too much for him to deal with, so he retreated to a tree. 

In the photo below, you can see his feathers are all swishy from sitting on eggs.

Christo looking for rats

When Christo is in hunting mode, you can really see it in his face.

Christo looking for rats

He then employed another tactic I've seen him do before.  As there were so many people blocking his path to the rats, he decided to clear the area.  He did this by flying back to the flagpole and luring all the spectators to the other side of the park offices.  Once the garden was clear, he quickly dove down to the area where everyone had been standing, and grabbed a rat.

I left him to eat in peace.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chinatown and Tompkins Square hawk updates

Following the necropsy that was performed on the Chinatown hawk who died March 31, the specific rodenticides responsible for her death have been identified by the Department of Environmental Conservation:
Anticoagulant rodenticides (ppm, wet basis) in liver (NYSDEC - BAQS Shared Laboratory Facility):

Brodifacoum     0.247
Difethialone      0.129
Bromadiolone   0.044

NOT DETECTED (detection limit = 0.005 ppm): difenacoum, warfarin, diphacinone, chlorophacinone.
I knew next to nothing about rodenticide before this hawk died.  Since then, I've taken myself on a crash course which has been horrifying and depressing.  A Google search of any of these terms returns a tidal wave of results about dangers to wildlife and pets.

And why New York rejected the EPA ban on these poisons still boggles my mind.  If anyone can shed some light on this decision, I'd appreciate it.

In the mean time, the surviving male red-tail is still hanging around Collect and Columbus parks in Chinatown.  He has been spotted this last week with another hawk and it is presumed this could be his new mate. I haven't been able to put in too much time hawk-hunting this week, but I did look around the Lower East Side this morning and was surprised to come upon this juvenile red-tail.

Juvenile red-tail on the Lower East Side

It has a very white chest with a barely-there belly band. 

Juvenile red-tail on the Lower East Side

When I found it, the hawk appeared to be hunting around a playground near Madison and Catherine Streets.  This is just a short distance east of Columbus Park. 

Juvenile red-tail on the Lower East Side

Back in Tompkins Square, Christo and Dora are doing well with their nesting.  There's not much action to be seen at this time except nest-switches.

This is Christo surrounded by green buds.  Soon those leaves will be out and we'll have difficulty seeing the hawks in the trees.

Christo surrounded by green buds

Christo with a snack.


Dora on a break.




I'm guessing the eggs (assuming there's more than one) are due to hatch in a couple more weeks, around the end of April.  We may get a clue when Christo suddenly starts making a lot of food deliveries to the nest.

Morningside Hawks has a detailed and informative update of all the known Manhattan hawk nests.

Urban Hawks is also keeping track with a spreadsheet here.  We should be seeing the first hatches very soon.