Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thanksgiving hawks in Tompkins Square

While Thanksgiving dinners were being served under the Krishna Tree in Tompkins Square Park, I found Christo the resident Red-Tailed Hawk hunting for rats behind the park offices. No turkey for this guy!

Christo on Thanksgiving

Over the weekend, Amelia and Christo perched atop the Christodora building in the afternoon sun, keeping watch over their territory.

Amelia & Christo atop the Christodora

Earlier today, I found Amelia perched in the ginkgo tree that hosted the hawk nest last season.

Amelia checks me out

She seemed to be watching the activity below as a construction crew worked on updating the Avenue B playground. Both hawks have been spending time in the ginkgo recently, so the busy construction below the tree doesn't seem to be bothering them.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, six hawks were observed in the park all at the same time. Christo and Amelia actively chased an intruding Red-Tail above the trees of the central lawn. While they were occupied, this immature Cooper's Hawk perched in the Krishna Tree.

Cooper's hawk in Tompkins Square

It flew to the Avenue A side of the park where it joined a second Cooper's and chased after pigeons.

Meanwhile, I found this immature Red-Shouldered Hawk perched over the construction area by Avenue B. I previously saw an adult fly over the park this last January, but I've never seen a Red-Shouldered perched in the park until now.

Red-shouldered hawk in Tompkins Square

Red-shouldered hawk checks me out

In the span of an hour, there were three red-tails, one red-shouldered and two Cooper's hawks in Tompkins Square, which really made my day.

As a hawk bonus, this is a photo I took on Halloween of a Cooper's hawk flying past the Statue of Liberty.

Cooper's hawk over the Statue of Liberty

The photo was taken from Governors Island, and was a satisfying end to the 2018 season on the island.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A rare view of a red-tail in its New York City habitat

Back in 2014, I had a chance to get eye-level with our Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Christo and Dora, as they flew to and from their nest on the Christodora House. This was a rare opportunity for me to photograph the hawks with Midtown Manhattan in the background.

On a recent visit to the Hills at Governors Island, a young red-tail gave me another chance to photograph it with Downtown Manhattan in the background. Although I spend a lot of time with hawks in the city, I don't often get to present them in their ultra-urban environment. The photos below show the same red-tailed hawk as it hunts around the island.

Perched on a speaker pole at Fort Jay:

Red-tail perched at Fort Jay

Perched at Outlook Hill with One New York Plaza in the background:

Red-tail on Outlook Hill at Governors Island

Flying towards 17 State Street:

Red-tail flies past downtown Manhattan

Flying past One World Trade:

Red-tail flying past the World Trade Center

Red-tailed hawk flying past the World Trade Center

Over the harbor with Battery Park City in the background:

Red-tail flying along Battery Park

Battery Park:

Red-tail flying past Battery Park

Red-tail, Staten Island Ferry and a New York Water Taxi all sailing past Pier A:

Red-tail flying past Pier A and Battery Park

Up close:

Red-tail close up

Tools of the trade:

Red-tailed hawk tools of the trade

The hawk didn't seem to mind my presence and often flew so close to me, I couldn't focus the camera.

Red-tail checking me out

I stayed with the hawk for an hour as it flew around the Hills, and I reluctantly had to leave it as I had to catch the last ferry off the island.

A friend took some nice video of the hawk in action on the day prior to my visit, which you can see on YouTube. The video really shows how the hawk used the wind to kite and soar almost effortlessly.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cooper's hawk hangs out with squirrel in NYC Marble Cemetery

A few days ago, I saw an immature Cooper's hawk catch a robin in Tompkins Square Park. There has also been an adult Cooper's hawk hanging around the area, and today I found it in the New York City Marble Cemetery on E 2nd Street.

It had apparently just finished off a pigeon (note the carpet of gray feathers on the ground).

Cooper's hawk in NYC Marble Cemetery

Most surprising, there was a squirrel nearby who seemed so unconcerned about the hawk, it sat on a stone monument with its back turned towards the predator.

Cooper's hawk and squirrel in NYC Marble Cemetery

I didn't have my bird camera with me as it was about to snow, but I did manage to take some video of the hawk and the squirrel.

In this clip, the hawk prepares to take off and you can compare its size to the pigeon in its talons. Although the hawk is fluffed up in the cold and seems large, it's smaller than our local red-tails.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cooper's hawk catches robin in Tompkins Square

This last Thursday, I came across a young Cooper's hawk who had just caught a robin in Tompkins Square.

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

The hawk's streaky markings gave it excellent camouflage among the fall foliage.

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

Cooper's hawk with a robin in Tompkins Square

Not wasting any time, the hawk went to work plucking the robin.

Cooper's hawk plucks a robin in Tompkins Square

But the Cooper's hawk didn't get a chance to tuck into its meal before red-tailed Amelia came swooping in with a scream.

Amelia the red-tailed hawk

Amelia the red-tailed hawk

Christo joined her in chasing the Cooper's out of their territory. Because of construction in the SE quadrant of the park, I was unable to follow them to see what happened next.

Meanwhile, I looked in on the state of the red-tailed hawk nest in the ginkgo tree on the east side of the park.  There is an assemblage of sticks in the same location as last season, but I'm not sure whether or not the hawks will decided to use the same spot this year.

Tompkins Square Park hawk nest

The nest tree is within the fenced-off area of the park where construction crews are rebuilding the Avenue B and 7th Street playgrounds. So far, the human activity doesn't seem to be preventing the hawks from going about their business.