Friday, December 11, 2020

Hawk time

While passing through Tompkins Square Park earlier this last week, I found our resident red-tailed hawk pair, Amelia and Christo, perched on top of the Christodora building.

Amelia & Christo

Amelia is always on the north end while Christo takes the south. Even when only one hawk is perched up there, they take their preferred ends of the roof, so if you see one or both hawks on top of the building, you can identify them based on where they are sitting.

Late Thursday, I found an immature red-tail chowing down on a pigeon in a tree in the park. I was kind of surprised to see it as Christo and Amelia wouldn't like another red-tail in their territory, but they were not to be seen, so this hawk got away with sneaking a meal. As I watched, a young Cooper's hawk flew into the same tree and checked out the red-tail (I couldn't get a decent photo) before flying off towards 7th Street.

Immature red-tail

A few weeks ago, I ventured out to Governors Island on an extremely windy day. Sustained winds were 20+ MPH and the gusts were so strong, I could barely hold my camera steady. I was just about to give up and leave when one of the resident red-tails suddenly appeared right in front of me.

Red-tail with New York Harbor in the background

Both resident adult hawks appeared right over my head and I watched as they used the strong winds to enable them to hover in place, not having to flap their wings or use much effort at all. I love when they do this.

Red-tail flying past lower Manhattan

I watched as the hawks methodically floated over grassy areas of the island, presumably looking for prey. From my vantage point, I could capture them with the lower Manhattan skyline in the background. This is the male of the pair.

Male GI red-tail flying over lower Manhattan

Male GI red-tail flying over lower Manhattan

Both hawks came together over the water and caught the wind gusts which lifted them back up over the island. In the photo below, New Jersey is in the background.

Red-tailed hawk pair over New York Harbor

This is the male coming past me at eye-level. Note his light bright eyes and dark brown belly band. The sun is very bright, so his color looks a bit washed out, but in person, his head and belly band are quite dark.

Red-tailed hawk flying over New York Harbor

Taking a closer look.

Governors Island male red-tail

I like how his talons fold neatly under his tail.

Male red-tail of Governors Island

We check each other out.

Male red-tail of Governors Island

This is the female. Her head is a much lighter brown and her belly band is just a few faint markings.

Female red-tail of Governors Island

She kept turning her head to the side and looking down, scanning the landscape for anything interesting.

Female red-tail of Governors Island

She flew very low along the vegetation, taking closer looks. I saw her dive into the bushes once, but she didn't come up with anything.

Female red-tail of Governors Island

Checking me out.

Female red-tail of Governors Island

Windy days are usually good for seeing raptors like these. They take advantage of the wind and can soar without having to expend much energy. It's fun to watch them hover in place, then suddenly catch a gust of wind and be a mile away in seconds. It's days like these I wish I could experience that.

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