Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Autumn red-tail colors

It's my favorite time of year when the trees put on their dazzling display of vivid color, saturating the streets with stunning kaleidoscopic hues.

The blazing yellow honey locust trees on this stretch of E 6th Street just east of First Avenue make me happy every time I walk by.

Blazing yellow

Up in Central Park, this solitary orange tree looks like a flame among a grove of trees that is still firmly bent on staying green.

Central Park

I also like this time of year because the autumn colors complement the new plumage of our red-tailed hawks. Christo and Amelia have finished their summer molts, and they are now sporting beautiful brand-new feathers, as seen below on Christo. For comparison, see a scraggly molting Christo here and here.

Christo in the fall foliage

The late afternoon sun shining through the fall leaves brings out the warm tones in his brown feathers. The hawks easily blend in with the foliage, something they won't be able to do much longer as winter approaches.

Christo in the fall foliage

When I met up with Christo in Tompkins Square last weekend, he was hunting in one of the gardens. Eventually, he caught a rat and flew it right over my head and into a tree.


As Christo quickly ate his meal, another red-tail appeared out of nowhere and flew right past his face. Was this a challenge? Christo quickly took off after it and, as I ran to an area where I could see the sky, I caught sight of Amelia, who was racing across the park to help drive out the intruder.


The three hawks chased each other around so fast, I couldn't keep up. The interloper ended up flying off towards East River Park, while Christo and Amelia regrouped on the church cross at Avenue A and 10th Street.

Christo and Amelia

I like how Christo studies Amelia as she comes in for a landing.

Christo and Amelia

Christo and Amelia

The pair perched on the cross for a while, but Amelia kept taking off to patrol the area.

Christo and Amelia

When Amelia didn't return from one of her tours, Christo took off and returned to the park.


Taking advantage of the last bit of sunlight, he caught one last rat before sunset.

Christo with a rat

As the season progresses, we'll likely see more hawks in the neighborhood who are either migrating or looking for a place to spend the winter. In addition to red-tails, I've been seeing Cooper's hawks, who often come around this time of year.

On the last day of the season on Governors Island (October 31), I spent some quality time with a pair of young adult red-tails who demonstrated some excellent hawk hunting skills. I'll have more on these two in an upcoming post.

Red-tails on Governors Island

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