Monday, November 2, 2020

Halloween with Christo and the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

As October came to a close this last weekend, I was happy to meet up with red-tailed hawk, Christo, in Tompkins Square Park. I love this time of year when the fall foliage complements the warm highlights in his plumage.

Christo and fall foliage

Christo has been a resident of the neighborhood for six years now, having arrived back in the fall of 2013. I'm estimating his age to be 8-9 years, making him a distinguished middle-aged hawk.

Christo and fall foliage

Christo is no longer the flamboyant young raptor who continuously zipped around the park like a firecracker, but is now much more frugal with his energy. He has spent the last several years honing his hunting skills, employing as little energy as possible. He knows where to find his favorite food - rats - and he knows how to expertly catch them. With so much food available in his territory, Christo has the luxury of being picky.

One of his hunting methods is to perch on top of the street lamps in the park at dusk and wait for the rats to come out.

Christo hunting by lamp light

I watched him for about ten minutes as a parade of rats ran across the path between us.

Halloween rat

Halloween rat

Christo let rat after rat run right past him, patiently waiting for just the right one to take his fancy. The longer he perched on the light, the more comfortable the rats became and let down their guard. When one practically walked right up to him, Christo dove down and nabbed it in half a second. It's a big one!

Christo catches a rat

Satisfied knowing Christo had his dinner, I turned my attention to the other side of the park where the marvelous Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, led by the extraordinary Kembra Pfahler, put on a special Halloween show.

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

Christo's mate, Amelia, circled over the band as they performed this song (NSFW video), which was a fitting climax to a fantastic show.

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

Since we've been enduring the pandemic the last several months, this show really felt like a triumph of our creative community and a celebration of strength, survival and resiliency. The hawks continue to do their thing, as are the people who share their habitat.

Bonus: Rats are as big a part of the city as people and hawks, so it was nice to see them being honored as well.

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