Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter holiday hawk round-up

Winter holiday time is traditionally when we see an uptick in hawk action around the neighborhood.  This year is no exception, but the recent string of dark and overcast days has made photography a challenge. Below are a few highlights from days when the clouds parted enough for me to capture Christo, Amelia and a few intruders in their territory.

I found Christo perched on the east side of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street on a bright and cold morning.


Amelia often perches on the church cross, but I have yet to see her join Christo at the base of the dome like Dora used to do.


Earlier this week, Christo made an impressive dive from the roof of the Christodora House...

Christo in a dive his flagpole throne in Tompkins Square.

Christo on his throne

Here is a closer look at Christo's pretty brown eyes. When he first arrived in the neighborhood five years ago, his eyes were a much lighter amber. They've deepened in color as he's matured.

Christo's pretty eye color

Amelia's eye color is light brown and can be seen even as she soars.  This has been one way for me to identify her at a distance, although it's not very reliable as her eye color will also change with age.



Christo and Amelia have been spending a lot of time defending their territory against other young red-tails, who have been pretty brazen about coming into the park. The one pictured below kept flying around Tompkins Square despite being chased by both resident adults.

Immature intruder

Below is another immature red-tail on 2nd Street who just wouldn't take a hint when Christo and Amelia kept diving at it. They chased it over to First Avenue, then into the Village View housing complex.

Immature red-tail

Cooper's hawks are also in the area. I've counted at least one adult and two immature Cooper's hawks around the park, but there could be more. In the past, the red-tails have mostly tolerated the Cooper's hawks, but as nesting season approaches, Christo and Amelia are getting more aggressive about chasing them out of the area. Below is an immature Cooper's on 6th Street near Avenue A.

Cooper's hawk

This is another immature Cooper's hawk in the New York City Marble Cemetery on E 2nd Street.

Cooper's hawk

Most of the hawk activity I've been seeing has been happening high in the air over Tompkins Square and the surrounding streets. As the weather improves and we see some sunny days, the hawks should be easier to spot, especially now that the trees have lost their leaves.

As yet, there has been no sign of nest-building, but Christo and Amelia have been hanging out in the ginkgo tree on the east side of Tompkins, so I hope they choose to use that location again for their nest.  This will be the first nest Christo and Amelia construct together, as the previous one was built by Dora, and then mostly by Christo as he spent last winter without her. We can look forward to seeing stick-gathering and other nesting activity in January/February.

Until then, Christo is staying vigilant in Tompkins Square.

Christo in winter

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dora update: living well with a new guy at WINORR

We've heard from the folks at Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) that our lovely Dora is doing well and has a new mate, a handsome young male red-tailed hawk named Winston.

Here is the couple pictured below, with Dora on the left and Winston on the right. All the photos are courtesy of Bobby Horvath.

Dora was taken to WINORR on April 4 after being unable to fly back up to her nest in Tompkins Square Park. She had suffered a wing injury and, although did not have any broken bones, sustained damage that left her unable to function properly in the wild. It is not known if she will ever be released, but we can say for certain she will not be returning to Tompkins Square Park.

It looks like Dora is happy hanging out with Winston, who also has a wing injury that keeps him from being unable to live in the wild. The two have bonded and I'm glad the drama of the last year has had a positive conclusion.

Bobby and Cathy Horvath take care of Dora, Winston and many more injured birds and animals out of the kindness of their hearts. They receive no funding for all their hard work, so please consider making a donation to their cause.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Christo featured in 2019 Peregrine Fund calendar

Our local Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk, Christo, is featured for the month of August in the 2019 Peregrine Fund "Birds of Prey" calendar.

The image is of Christo on an extremely hot summer day drinking water from the General Slocum memorial fountain in Tompkins Square Park.

Calendars are available for purchase from the Peregrine Fund (PDF order form), or you can receive one for free when making a donation. The Peregrine Fund does inspiring work to conserve raptors. You can read more about what they do and how to get involved on their website.