Friday, July 17, 2020

Christo still providing for his kids who are becoming more independent

I'm happy to report we still have all three Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledglings sticking close to home. As they hatched earlier this year than in years past, I was afraid they'd take off by early or mid-July, but they show no signs of being in a hurry to get moving.

That said, they are spending more and more time outside the park. This morning, I saw one being mobbed by a blue jay on First Avenue. On another recent morning, I found one having breakfast on the roof of a building on Avenue A.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

The breakfast was pigeon, and I don't believe the fledgling caught it themselves. Although I did not see the catch, I heard the fledgling and dad, Christo, tussling in the trees a few minutes before. I believe Christo caught the pigeon and the fledgling came and took it.

While it ate, Christo landed on the building next door.

Christo

He is well into his summer molt and looks pretty scraggly. His head and face are very pale, making his eyes look extra big. He and Amelia seem to be molting earlier this year - in previous summers, I didn't notice molting in either one until late July. You can learn more about bird feather molts here.

Christo (molting)

This shot shows how small his head looks compared to his body as he's lost a lot of feathers on his head and neck, making him look a little out of proportion.

Christo (molting)

As I observed Christo, the fledgling abandoned its breakfast and flew to another building where it cried at dad. I'm not sure why it was begging for more food when it still had half a pigeon, but this is what they do.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Keeping its eyes on dad, the fledgling decided to come closer.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

For what ever reason, the fledgling took a run at Christo, forcing him into the air. The pigeon was on the roof just off to the left, so I don't know why it acted so aggressively with Christo when food was within sight. If dad isn't continuously proving food, I guess he needs reminding!

Christo and his kid

Christo was forced to take off, dashing any hope of the kid getting a second serving.

Christo

A couple of days later, I found one of the fledglings (I'm not sure if it was the same one or not) in a tree in the park struggling to hang on to a huge rat. The rat was pretty stiff, so it wasn't fresh, and I suspect it was another gift from Christo.

How to deal with this heavy rat?

Unable to drag the rat up to the branch, the fledgling dropped it in the grass, then proceeded to cry for Christo to come pick it up. The crying went on for a good 15 minutes until Christo did, indeed, come swooping down from a tree to retrieve the rat.

However, a split second before he got to it, the fledgling decided to pick it up after all and dove down and mantled it. Christo just barely escaped without getting his legs clawed.

Fledgling swoops in on Dad

I am guessing this is all part of the learning process. Christo is pushing the kids to take care of themselves, but they still want him to do all the work. He patiently waits for them to take action and, when they don't, he steps in to help. Seeing the fledgling go for the prey before Christo gets to it is exactly what it should do as it needs to be fast and aggressive when hunting.

Christo and his kid

Once the fledgling was secure with its rat, it decided to play with it for a while, pouncing on it and picking it up. This is all practice for the real deal.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

I thought the rat might be too heavy for the young hawk, but then it went and picked up a substantial piece of wood and dragged it around the grass.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

All the while, Christo watched from a nearby tree.

Christo

All three fledglings are looking great and I'm so happy they are with us this season.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

More to come...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.