Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Tompkins Square hawk update: good news and bad news

We will start with the bad news. It appears one of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk chicks has died.

This is our last known photo of all three chicks, which was taken on May 12:

Last known photo of all 3 chicks

[Yes, the chick on the left is horking down a pigeon foot.]

Unfortunately, we have no idea what happened, when exactly the chick passed away, or where the body is now. It's likely still up in the tree, but there is no way to check up there and, without a body, no way to know what caused the chick's death. Any stories floating around the park are pure speculation. The last time we observed the chick, it appeared fine, but they were all still too small to be able to get a really good look at them. Of course, we're watching the remaining two chicks closely.

This is not the first time resident red-tail, Christo, and his mates, Dora and Amelia, have experienced loss. Looking back through our records, we know of three definite deaths, as well as the death of a foster fledgling, and another fledgling who showed signs of illness. There is also the possibility that there were chicks that hatched, then died, without anyone knowing. Here's a run-down of past years:

All is not lost, however, as there are still two hawk chicks and one of them has (technically) branched!

This is mom Amelia with one of the chicks on Tuesday.

Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

It's looking crowded in the nest as one of the nestlings stretches its wings.

Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

Tompkins Square red-tail nestling

Tompkins Square red-tail nestlings

Tompkins Square red-tail nestlings

Tompkins Square red-tail nestlings

This morning, we caught Chick #1 perched on a branch above the nest. As it is not sitting within the nest, we're calling this 'technical' branching. Also note the brown feathers growing in on top of the head, replacing the white down.

Tompkins chick #1 branches

Tompkins chick #1 branches

This is Chick #2, showing some nice peachy color on its chest.

Tompkins chick #2

If all goes well, the chicks will start exploring the nest tree.

For an intimate look of what goes on in a red-tailed hawk nest, we recommend tuning in to the Cornell Red-tailed Hawk Cam where parents Big Red and Arthur are raising three youngsters in Ithaca, New York. They are several days younger that the Tompkins Square chicks, so still look white and fuzzy.

Closer to home, check out the 55 Water Street Peregrine Falcon cam to see two chicks being raised on a skyscraper in Lower Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tompkins red-tailed hawk chicks are growing fast

We had to wait so long to catch a glimpse of the red-tailed hawk chicks in Tompkins Square, and now that they're big enough to be seen easily, they look huge!

Tompkins red-tail chicks (2 of 3)

These are two of the three chicks, seen today. The third was not being cooperative, staying low in the nest.

The photo below shows the hawks' ears, which are those little holes below their eyes. When the fuzzy white down is replaced with brown juvenile feathers, those ears will be covered up.

Tompkins red-tail chicks (2 of 3)

One of the chicks showed off their ginormous talon - check out that big yellow clown foot!

My, what a big foot you have!

The most obvious changes taking place are to the wings. You can see how long the pin feathers are already.

Pin feathers

From another angle, looking at the top of the wing, we can see the brown juvenile feathers coming in nicely. All that white fuzzy down will be preened off before the bird fledges the nest.

Showing some wing

We can see how long the wing is as the chick does some flapping exercises.

Flap flap flap!

Below, the chick on the right shows us its tail feathers. You can already see the brown banded pattern that will later help us identify the individuals. In this photo, I believe Chick #1 is on the left, #2 is on the right, and #3 is hidden in the nest.

Banded tail feathers making an appearance

The kids are growing well because they're eating well. Check out the bulging crop on the chick below on the left. When I fist looked at the photo, I thought it was the head of the third chick, but nope, that's the remains of lunch.

My, what a big crop you have!

The nestlings are still small but they're very active and alert. They take in all the activity in the park and seem to like watching what ever is going on down on the central lawn. This afternoon, people had their dogs, a cat and a rabbit out there that captured this little guy's attention.

Surveying his/her domain

Checking my notes from last year, the hawk chicks all fledged the nest the first week of June. The next two weeks should be interesting as the nestlings continue to develop their immature plumage and start exploring the branches around the nest.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Three red-tailed hawk chicks confirmed for Tompkins Square

We were finally able to confirm three chicks for Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, today. This marks the second year in a row that the pair have produced three offspring, and they are all looking lively, which is great news.

All three nestlings can be seen here as they wait for mom, Amelia, to serve up dinner.

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

You can get a better look at them in this video, which shows them bopping around in the nest.

Two of the chicks gulp down chinks of something while the third is partially hidden behind the sticks in front of Amelia.

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

After dinner, Amelia took a break away from the nest, giving the nestlings an opportunity to stretch and get some exercise.

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

Check out those pin feathers on the wings!

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

Tompkins Square red-tailed nestlings

After a few minutes, Amelia returned to the nest to settle everyone down.

Mom and nestling

Mom and nestling

Mom and nestling

Parents and chicks all look great, which gives me hope they'll have another successful season.

Mom and nestling

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Snacktime for Tompkins Square red-tail nestlings

Late this afternoon, I caught Amelia, the resident female red-tailed hawk of Tompkins Square Park, feeding her chicks.

Amelia and one of her chicks

Although I was standing far away, Amelia caught sight of me as well. No one escapes her gaze!

Amelia and one of her chicks

Below, you can see two fuzzy little bobbleheads.

Amelia and two chicks

As one nestling stretches on the left, Amelia feeds the second one, which can barely be seen through the bramble of sticks. 

Amelia and two chicks

In this video taken on May 3, you can see a lively chick bouncing up and down as it gets fed by mom.

This video was taken this afternoon and shows another feeding, this time with music in the background by Robert Leslie, who has been a welcome addition to the musical entertainment in the park recently.

So, the question remains: Could there be a third chick? We should be able to confirm in the next week or so how many are in the nest. Parents, Christo and Amelia, successfully fledged three kids last year, and this year is looking good for them so far.