Monday, June 24, 2019

Christo and Amelia build a frustration nest in Tompkins Square

We have not yet received an update from the Department of Environmental Conservation on the cause of death of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chicks. We'll post any information here as soon as we get it.

In the mean time, parents Christo and Amelia can still be found in and around the park.

Christo and Amelia

Christo and Amelia

Christo and Amelia

In a new development, they have built a "frustration" nest, or alternate nest, in the tree where Christo and Dora raised their tenth offspring in 2017.

Frustration nest

This is something I've seen ospreys do when they experience a nest failure, so it's interesting to see red-tailed hawks do it as well.

Frustration nest

Several people have asked me if this means the hawks will lay more eggs this year. Short answer: No. The breeding time for the hawks is generally February - May, so it is too late in the year to start again. The hawks undergo hormonal changes in the spring that lead up to egg-laying, and that time has passed.

However, nest-building is bonding activity, so it's a good sign. It shows Christo and Amelia are working together and maintaining their territory and partnership. Although I'm really sad not to have baby hawks playing in the park this summer, I'm happy to see the adults staying close to home and remaining visible.

Last evening, I found Amelia perched on the dome of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street.


And, this evening, she took in the last bit of sunlight from a high branch in the park.


It's been a challenge to see the hawks lately among the lush leaves of the park trees, but they can be found near both nest sites, on the east side of the park and near the Temperance Fountain.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sad update on Tompkins Square red-tail chick

I'm sorry to report the Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk chick passed away tonight.

The chick was in the care of WINORR, who tried their best to save it, but its illness/injuries were just too advanced. The remains will be sent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for testing to determine the cause of illness and death.

This is a devastating loss for Christo and Amelia, who also lost one of their offspring last year. It will be helpful to know what happened to this year's chicks and we will post an update if/when we are notified.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Update on the Tompkins Square hawk chick

Following Thursday's post where we expressed concern for the surviving Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chick, we have some updated information.

Tompkins red-tail nestling 

This morning, between 6-6:30am, the chick fell out of the nest. Ranger Rob from the NYC Urban Park Rangers was able to retrieve it and take it to Animal Medical Center for treatment. It spent the day on an IV drip. The hawk will be transported to Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) tonight.

It's still not known what exactly is wrong with the hawk, but it is extremely weak and in bad shape. Tests are being done and we will update if/when we know something conclusive. In the meantime, the hawk is getting the best care possible.

THANK YOU to the resident who saw the hawk fall - without that witness, the hawk would not have survived the day.

And big thanks to Ranger Rob, the staff at AMC, and Bobby and Cathy Horvath at WINORR who are doing their best to save our little guy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Concern for the remaining Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

It's been a week since one of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk nestlings passed away and I am concerned about the surviving sibling. Although it looked okay at the time of the last post, it seems to now be suffering from some kind of illness.

We still don't know what killed the other nestling and the body has not been recovered. I'm not sure if the parents removed it from the tree, or if it's still up there somewhere. Unfortunately, without the remains, it won't be possible to do any testing and get definite answers about the fate of the hawk.

Drying out

On the morning of May 31, after the first chick (I think it was the younger of the two) passed away, the surviving sibling stood on the edge of the nest and tried to dry its wet feathers.

Drying out

There had been a thunderstorm the night before - one of many in recent weeks - and the chick was totally soaked. You can see water droplets on the leaves in front of the hawk in the photo below. I don't know if the continuous wet weather conditions have had anything to do with the health of the birds.

Drying out

This morning (June 6), I found the nestling perched in the same place, but it kept one or both eyes closed, which is not normal.

Not looking well

At this age, the hawk should be jumping, flapping, and exploring the tree. Instead, it has spent most of the week sitting still or lying down. It does seem to have an appetite, so I hope food is giving it strength.

Tompkins red-tail nestling

Not looking well

Below, you can actually see three flies on the chick's wing.

Tompkins red-tail nestling with flies

At this point, there is nothing anyone can do to help. The nest is inaccessible and it is not known what is wrong. It's possible the nestling can pull through what ever is ailing it, and maybe food and rest are what it needs.  I had originally predicted this hawk would fledge the first week of June, but it's apparent that is not going to happen.

Best case scenario is the hawk recovers, takes its time, and fledges later. The three hawklets over at Washington Square Park are a few days younger that the Tompkins chick, and they are doing very well despite losing their dad. You can follow the activities of that family over at Roger Paw's blog.

Earlier in the week, Urban Hawks paid a visit to Tompkins Square and took some video of the nestling. Note the windy conditions blowing the leaves around and obscuring the nest, which has been one of the factors making this nest so difficult to observe.

Fingers crossed there will be a happy outcome here. I will update as I know more.