Friday, July 10, 2020

Hot hawk water sports

So far, it's been an uncomfortably hot and humid summer in the city, causing a lot of people and wildlife to take refuge in the shade during the day. The Tompkins Square hawks are no exception, often seeking out sprinklers or puddles in which to cool off on these sultry days.

I found one of the fledglings behind the park offices the other day as it took a dip in the lake formed by a clogged drain.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling cooling off

Looking in the mirror

Although the hawks get most of the water they need from the food they eat, they do need to drink water on hot days like this.

Taking a drink

Fledglings being kids, there are always pool toys to be had, like this dried leaf.

Pool toy

The hawks are curious and will pick up almost anything. I was alarmed to see this hawk play with a piece of red rubber from a broken water balloon. Thankfully, it did not ingest it, but it shows how things we leave behind can easily harm wildlife.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

Soak time over, the hawk flew off to find something else to get into.

Tompkins Square red-tail fledgling

On July 6, a powerful thunderstorm swamped the city, so I went out to check on the hawks as soon as it was over. I found Amelia drying out on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A and 10th Street.

Amelia after a rain storm

She was having a bad hair day, but I bet she felt good.

Amelia after a rain storm

One of the fledglings soon joined her and air-dried its wings from the top of the cross.

Fledgling and AMelia

What are you looking at?

Fledgling and Amelia

Speaking of looking disheveled, it's summer molt time for the adults, Amelia and Christo. Both hawks are looking a little ragged, but Christo always makes the most dramatic transformation.


It will become more obvious in the next several days, but Christo's head has gone very pale and his neck has lost a lot of feathers, making him look skinny and bony. He's also missing at least two tail feathers and, the last I saw, Amelia was missing one as well. This is completely normal, and both hawks will look messy until their new feathers grow in later in the summer.

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