Thursday, April 22, 2021

Hatch day and hail storm in Tompkins Square

Early Wednesday morning, it was obvious there had been a hatch at the red-tailed hawk nest in Tompkins Square. Most notably, the behavior of the hawks dramatically changed.

In the weeks leading up to that day, Christo and Amelia had a usual routine of brooding, turning the eggs, and switching places so Christo would incubate and Amelia could take a break and stretch. They continued this behavior through the evening of April 20.

Early the following morning, Christo perched on the edge of the nest while Amelia stayed inside. He appeared to be watching and/or waiting, something we've seen him do on hatch days in previous years. The hawks stayed in this position for over two hours, which is also notable. Finally, Amelia got up and the two of them fussed around with some food, Christo watching as Amelia tore it up, then went through the motions of feeding a chick deep in the nest. As she did this, Christo stayed close on a nearby branch.


When Amelia was done, she settled back down in the nest and I went to get some coffee. Christo also took that opportunity to go catch a big rat. We both returned to the nest and I took some video of Christo making the rat delivery. Amelia clearly wasn't ready for it yet, so after some back-and-forth, Christo took the rat away for his own breakfast.

After a while, Amelia performed another feeding. The hatchling is too small to be seen from outside the nest, so all we can see right now are the motions Amelia makes as she tears off a piece of food and feeds it to the chick below.

Photos don't show the feeding well, so I took another video:

Brunch over, Amelia stretches before settling back down into the nest.

Wednesday was a day of crazy weather, including a sudden hail storm. As the thunder rumbled, Amelia went deep into the nest and Christo, to my surprise, rode out the storm atop the cross of St Nicholas of Myra on Avenue A. I've seen him perch on high church crosses and the park flag pole for thunderstorms before, so I was concerned. Would he be struck by lightning?!?

In the video below, you can see and hear how hard the hail is coming down, but Christo pays it no mind.

The storm only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to turn streets into rivers, and leave hail stones behind in non-paved areas of the park.

The storm also caused a spooky mist to rise from the ground, which blanketed the entire park.

Spooky mist in Tompkins Square

The mist dissapated in seconds.

Spooky mist in Tompkins Square

A minute later, it was as if the storm had never happened and we returned to a beautiful sunny spring day.

Springtime in Tompkins Square

The rain and hail should not harm the hawk eggs or chicks as long as the parents keep them well covered. Both Amelia and Christo are experienced and skilled at being hawk parents, so I'm not worried. We have no idea how many eggs or chicks there are in the nest, but can expect 1-3 nestlings. It may be another week or so before we catch a glimpse of any fuzzy white heads peeking over the edge of the nest, so we'll have to wait and be surprised.

For updates on other hawk nests in the area, check out Urban Hawks, who covers several nests around Manhattan.

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