Wednesday, July 31, 2019

NYC birds of spring and summer

It's been a quiet summer on this site as there hasn't been much hawk activity to report. After the loss of the chicks in Tompkins Square, I took a little break from hawk-watching as it was too emotional. I have, however, been keeping an eye on Christo and Amelia, and they seem to be doing ok.

Summer is generally slow for bird-watching (for me), but there are definitely places around the city where you can see plenty of wildlife. Below are some highlights from the last few weeks.

Green Heron at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge:

Green heron

Cedar Waxwings feeding each other on Governors Island:

Cedar Waxwings

A bright Yellow Warbler on Governors Island:

Yellow warbler

Red-Bellied Woodpecker in Tompkins Square Park:

Red-bellied woodpecker

Always a favorite, a Tree Swallow on Governors Island:

Tree Swallow

Indigo Bunting in Central Park:

Indigo bunting

American Woodcock in Bryant Park:


Wood Ducks in Prospect Park:

Wood ducks

Hooded Merganser in Central Park:

Hooded merganser

Mallard on Governors Island:


Killdeer on Governors Island:


Eastern Towhee in Central Park:

Eastern Towhee

Tufted Titmouse in Central Park:

Tufted titmouse

Swamp Sparrow in Tompkins Square:

Swamp sparrow

Fox sparrow in El Jardin del Paraiso, East Village:

Fox sparrow

Wood Thrush on Governors Island:

Wood thrush

Hermit Thrush on Governors Island:

Hermit thrush

Red-tailed Hawk and a Merlin in Green-Wood Cemetery:

Red-tail and Merlin

Kestrel on E 6th St:


Not a bird!

Eastern Red Bat

This Eastern Red bat was flying around Tompkins Square late one afternoon.

If you'd like to learn more about NYC bats and possibly see them in person, NYC Audubon is hosting a Bat Walk this Friday, August 2, at 7:30pm on Governors Island. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Necropsy results returned for Tompkins Square nestling

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has completed the necropsy on the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk nestling who died on June 9. The cause of death was rodenticide poisoning.

She was also determined to be female.

The hawk's sibling had passed away in the nest on May 31 and it is assumed the pair suffered the same affliction (to date, the body of the first chick has not been found).

Secondary rodenticide poisoning happens when the chicks are fed poisoned rats, mice or any other prey that has ingested rodenticide. The parents, Christo and Amelia, likely didn't eat the same food, or not as much of it, so didn't die. However, they are exposed to the same danger every time they eat.

The NYC Parks Department does not use rodenticide in Tompkins Square Park. However, it is used throughout the city and the hawks do not restrict their hunting to the park, so they can pick it up anywhere.

Unfortunately, hawks being poisoned is nothing new here in the city and yet it is totally preventable. Back in 2016, I posted about a hawk who died before my eyes in Collect Pond Park, near City Hall. Over three years later, the danger is still out there and several hawks have died since that tragedy.

The Parks Department has been using dry ice to control rats in Tompkins Square. I think it's very effective and is not toxic to other animals, plants or people. However, if you look around the park or the streets of the East Village on any given day, there is trash and food everywhere. Until we, as a community, stop feeding the rats, nothing will change.

Private property owners can get more information about dealing with rats at the NYC Rats Information Portal.

Everyone should check out Raptors Are The Solution (RATS) for information about alternative pest control.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Molt time for Christo and Amelia

As summer rolls on, the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks continue to hang around the neighborhood. There hasn't been much activity since Christo and Amelia constructed the second nest in the park.

Monday afternoon, I found the pair relaxing atop the cross of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street.

Amelia and Christo

Amelia is on the left and Christo is on the right. You can really see the difference in their coloring. She is much darker.

Amelia and Christo

Christo is also beginning to molt, which makes him look especially pale. It's most evident around his eyes and on his head.

Amelia and Christo

You can also see how much bigger Amelia is than Christo. In the photo below, Christo has disappeared behind Amelia, with only his toe visible sticking out to the right of her.


Amelia has been spending a lot of time perched on the church and I often find her in the shade of the dome. I imagine she gets a nice breeze up there.


Later, as the sun started going down, Christo resettled on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church at E 10th Street.


Amelia soon joined him.

Amelia & Christo

You can see by looking at Amelia's tail that she is in the process of molting. She has eight old tail feathers, two new ones growing in, and is missing two more. She also appears to have new feathers growing in on her wings. Her appearance doesn't seem to change as dramatically as Christo during molt time.

Amelia & Christo

I spent almost three hours with the hawks as they watched the sun go down. At 9pm, Christo was still on the cross and Amelia flew over to the Village View complex on First Avenue, so I had to call it a day.

Amelia & Christo