Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cherry blossoms and brooding hawks in Tompkins Square

We're finally seeing some spring color in the city, and one of my favorite sights is the cotton candy pink blossoms of the cherry trees in Tompkins Square Park. Their appearance signals to me the arrival of all things sweet and fragrant.

 Note the amazing yoga pose of the woman in the above photo. I wish I could do that!

The cherry blossoms don't usually last long, and there is rain in the forecast for tonight, so relish them while you can.

As we enjoy watching all the flowers come to life around the park, red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, are busy brooding eggs.

Christo and Amelia

Amelia appeared to lay an egg on March 13, and the window for laying additional eggs has now closed. The hawks usually lay up to three eggs, but we don't know how many the pair have this year. We will just have to wait and see what happens over the next several weeks.

If you are interested in seeing what goes on in a live red-tailed hawk nest, I always recommend tuning in to the Cornell Red Tail cam, which documents Big Red and Arthur in Ithaca, New York. Big Red laid her first egg of the season on March 26, a second on March 29, and a third is expected at any moment.

Here in NYC, we can observe Christo and Amelia as they come and go from the nest, taking turns incubating. Below, Amelia takes a break to do some stretching.

Amelia stretches

She always seems to be on the lookout for sticks she can collect and add to the nest.

Amelia collects a stick

Below, she breaks off a twig from a locust tree.

Amelia trims a stick

Amelia collects a stick

Amelia collects a stick

Christo's main job during this time is providing food for the both of them. Amelia prefers pigeon over rat, and I caught him preparing her a pigeon dinner earlier this week.

Christo serves up pigeon

Christo delivered it to the nest, but Amelia wasn't ready to clock out of her incubation shift. Below, Christo patiently waits while Amelia stays hidden behind some branches to the right of him.

Christo on the nest

When it became apparent Amelia wasn't going to get up, Christo took the pigeon away to a nearby tree where he finished it himself.



When he's not hunting and preparing food, Christo keeps a lookout over their territory from a number of favorite perches. Below, he sits atop the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A, where he has a view of the park.


Something caught his eye and he took off.


Christo continues to enchant me with his handsome hawk spirit.


As a bonus, here is a photo of a very friendly pigeon in the park. The distinctive coppery color of this bird is similar to the warm browns of the hawks, and this bird has gorgeous iridescent green feathers on its neck and a blazing orange eye. Look out for this beauty on the east side of the park.


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