Thursday, March 16, 2017

The frenzy after the storm

Despite the dismal weather this week, it's been a busy one for hawks.  On Tuesday, we believe Dora laid at least one egg in the new nest in Tompkins Square.  Since then, she and Christo have been making regular nest-exchanges.  That same day, there was the big winter storm that was mostly blowing sleet and a pretty crummy day to be outside.  Dora looked wet and miserable, as did I.  Yesterday (Wednesday), the temp was still below freezing, and the wind made it feel worse.

But I was worried about Dora, so I ventured out at lunch time to check on her.  When I arrived at the park, a rat ran over my foot and Christo swooped over my head.

Christo on a dreary day

He ended up catching a different rat and took it to a tree near the Temperance Fountain where he called for Dora to come eat.  She responded and flew out of the nest just as I reached the area.


I tried to get another look at the mark on her left cheek.  As I can't get very close to her, it's hard to tell whether she has an injury or if it's just a patch of matted feathers.  Her eyes looked fine and she hungrily ate the rat, so her behavior seemed normal.

Dora with a mouse

While Dora ate lunch, Christo suddenly appeared with a second rat.  In the photo below, he's flying in on the right.

Christo flies in a mouse as Dora eats one

Dora had a two-course meal!

Dora with a 2-course meal

While Dora was busy feasting, Christo took off and chased this young Cooper's hawk that flew right over the center of the park.

Intruding Cooper's hawk

As I stood in one spot by the fountain, I also saw a crow fly right over the hawk nest, then a kestrel stirred up some pigeons along the St Mark's entrance to the park, and then a third red-tail soared over Avenue A.  Christo chased the Cooper's and the red-tail west towards First Avenue.

He quickly returned and wasted no time returning to hunting.  I moved closer to Avenue A when a second rat ran over my foot.  To my surprise/terror, Christo went after it!  The photo below is the last I saw of him before he got too close and he gouged my eyes out my camera lost focus.

Christo going for a rat at my feet

He missed the rat and perched just a few feet away.


Less than a minute later, he made a second attempt and dove right into the snow.


He caught a rat up against a fence.  A bench was blocking my view, so I only caught him as he carried the rat away.  I'm not sure if it was the one that ran over my foot or not.

Christo catches a rat in the snow

Christo flew the rat towards 7th Street.

Christo flies a rat past a fake goose in a window

He then delivered the rat back to Dora, who was already full after eating two rodents just minutes before.  He ate some himself, stashed the rest, then went and tore a huge chunk of bark off a tree near the ping pong table.  I couldn't believe how active he was - by contrast, I was absolutely frozen and barely able to move.

Christo took the bark to the nest, where Dora was brooding.  I guess she wasn't having any of it because she kicked him out and he had to fly around the park with that giant piece of wood.  Eventually, he convinced her to take a break from the nest, so she took off and he settled in with his new decorative item.

Christo flying with a piece of bark

As it's impossible to see the hawks when they're sitting down in the nest, I decided to go see what Dora was up to.  To my dismay, I found her tap dancing on some bird spikes on a fire escape on Avenue A.  Aaa!

Dora walking on bird spikes

Her feet were actually gripping the spikes.

Dora sitting on bird spikes

Zoomed in:

More to worry about!

This building has had a problem with pigeons for years, so the spikes were put up to deter them.  The pigeons now congregate on the corner of the building where there are no spikes.  I had to wonder why Dora chose to perch on that particular fire escape and not another one that isn't covered in danger.  I think it may be that she has a clear line of sight to the nest from this one spot.  If she were to perch on a neighboring building, trees would block her vision.

With this in mind, I then wondered why the hawks didn't decide to reuse their nest from last year on the east side of the park.  At that location, the hawks could perch on the cross at St Brigid's and have a clear view of their nest.  It seemed perfect.  Why they would abandon that setup and go for the current one is a mystery.

Anyway, Dora spent an hour behind bars on this air-conditioner looking back towards Christo and her nest.

Dora behind bars

This evening, I just happened to come across this immature red-tail at the City Marble Cemetery on 2nd Street.  I think this might be the same red-tail Christo chased away yesterday.  Normally, this hawk would have migrated by now, but for what ever reason, s/he is still hanging around the area.

Immature red-tail

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