Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hawk-o-rama weekend - Part 1

I spent some quality time this last weekend with some juvenile red-tailed hawks who have been wintering on the Lower East Side.  These are young hawks that the resident adult red-tails, Christo and Dora, prevent from entering Tompkins Square Park.  Instead, they hang around the periphery of Christo and Dora's territory.

This winter, there have been many juvenile red-tails in the city and several in the neighborhood. I can think of at least six individuals, but there are likely more.  I caught up with two, who I wrote about earlier this month.  They are great examples of differing feather patterns.

I've been calling this one White Chest because of its broad white chest, pale legs and face.

Juvenile red-tail with prey

Juvenile red-tail

By contrast, the hawk below has a dark head, prominent belly band and heavily speckled legs. I've been calling it Speckles, but other people in the area have been calling it Bad Boy because of its hunting skills.

Juvenile red-tail

Juvenile red-tail

This hawk also has a very distinctive tail.  There is obvious feather damage, possibly from eating prey off the ground, or roosting against a brick wall.  The tips of the tail feathers are a very dark gray that matches the tips of its wings. 

Tail damage

The good news is the ratty tail will be replaced when the hawk molts in summer.  Over at Washington Square, Roger Paw has a shot of Bobby, the resident male red-tail, who also has a ragged tail.

White Chest and Speckles have been hanging out together for some time. I first saw them sharing a meal on January 7, but they've been around much longer than that.  I'm curious about their relationship - could they be siblings or just migration companions?  I've seen them each catch and eat their own food.  However, I've also seen Speckles catch prey, then leave the leftovers for White Chest.

Below, Speckles is on the left and White Chest is on the right.

Two juvenile red-tails

Below, Speckles and White Chest watch a foraging squirrel.  I was hoping to see some hunting teamwork, but the hawks didn't end up going after the squirrel.

Two red-tails and a squirrel

You can really see the difference in their markings in the photo below.  Speckles is fluffed up in the cold, otherwise White Chest appears to be the larger of the two.

Juvenile red-tail pair

White Chest on a fire escape.

Juvenile red-tail

Juvenile red-tail

Speckles on a fire escape.

Juvenile red-tail

Here is another view of that funky tail.  You can also see the dark primary feathers on the left wing.  That color matches the edges of the tail feathers.

Juvenile red-tail with tail damage

And here are those speckled legs.

Juvenile red-tail

Juvenile red-tail

Coming at me...

A big yawn at the end of a busy day.


More fun hawk posts to come...

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