Monday, December 23, 2019

Pre-holiday meal with Tompkins Square red-tails Christo and Amelia

Late Sunday afternoon, I found red-tailed hawk Amelia munching on the remains of a pigeon in Tompkins Square Park.

Amelia with dinner

All that was left was the drumstick.

Amelia munching on a drumstick

Foot in mouth!

Amelia demonstrates foot-in-mouth

A post-meal beak-cleaning:

Amelia cleans her beak

After such a big meal, Amelia showed off her huge bulging crop. She then spent the next hour resting and digesting.

Amelia shows off her bulging crop

Meanwhile, Christo took up a pose on his golden throne, the top of the flag pole in front of the park offices.

Christo on his throne

Something caught his eye...

Christo diving off his throne

I followed him to a tree near the Temperance Fountain, where he was taking in the last of the late afternoon sun.

Christo the red-tailed hawk

A squirrel approached, but Christo wasn't interested.

Christo and a squirrel

Instead, Christo chose to dive after something else.

Christo dives after a rat

Something right in front of me.

Christo dives after a rat

My camera lost focus after this. He landed on a rat that had been frolicking in the grass a couple of feet in front of me.

Christo going for a rat

There it goes...

Christo carries off a rat

Christo obligingly paused for a brief pre-dinner photo op.

Christo with a rat

Christo and his rat dinner

The procedure is to pop off the head and eat that first.

Christo eats the best part first

As Christo enjoyed his dinner, an immature Cooper's hawk snuck into the tree across the way and watched as Christo ate.

Immature Cooper's hawk

No time for chasing Cooper's hawks today! Christo quickly downed the rat and took one last look around before the sun disappeared behind the buildings.

Christo post-dinner pose

And then he went off to roost under a fire escape. In winter months, he usually does this, keeping close to the warm brick buildings.

Christo retires for the evening

After Christo was put to bed, I returned to check on Amelia. She did not stay in the park, but disappeared over the buildings west of Avenue A where I was unable to relocate her. I've only caught her going to roost once - she's much more secretive than Christo, who sticks close to the park at night.

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