Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Checking in with Christo and Amelia in Tompkins Square

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, continue to brood and, despite the recent cold spell, things seem to be going well for them. 

We caught up with Christo late Monday when the temperature was down to 29°F with 15 MPH wind - bone-chilling for us, but no problem for him in his warm down jacket.

Christo perched in Tompkins Square Park

Christo went on the hunt for a hot meal.

Christo diving through the trees

Christo looking towards the sky

Christo looking pretty in early spring colors

After a few minutes, he nabbed a small rat, which you can see in his talons below.

Christo catches a rat

Christo perched with a rat in his talons

Christo readjusts his grip on a rat

After calling to Amelia to tell her he had dinner ready, he flew it over to her.

Christo takes off with a rat

Christo carried the rat up to the nest where Amelia remained tucked deep inside.

Christo delivers a rat to the nest

She acknowledged the food delivery, but wasn't interested in eating.

Christo and Amelia in their nest

Before the rat got cold, Christo carried it off to another tree where he quickly ate it himself. He then did a bit of kitchen clean-up and finished off some stashed food before going on another dinner run.

Christo flies off with a rat as Amelia looks on from the nest

We hung around a while longer to see if he caught another rat, but a cloud moved in front of the sun and it was just too cold to stay, so we returned to our own warm nest.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Barred Owl in Bryant Park

Last week, the first ever Barred Owl was reported in Bryant Park along 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Barred owl in Bryant Park

We've seen Barred Owls before in Manhattan in Central Park, but seeing one in the ultra-urban area alongside the famous New York Public Library building was pretty special.

Barred owl checking us out in Bryant Park
First ever recorded Barred owl in Bryant Park NYC

By the time we saw it, the owl had already been in the park overnight and had been observed catching and eating rodents. Despite the noise of construction equipment, power tools, sirens and traffic, the owl did not appear stressed. In fact, it managed to get some shut-eye most of the time we were there.
Barred owl roosting in Bryant Park

The owl stayed in the park another night before continuing on its journey to parts unknown.
Below is a brief video for more context.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Brooding commences in Tompkins Square

It's egg time for Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, marking this their fifth breeding season together. Wood is the traditional gift for a fifth anniversary, which seems appropriate for this pair. They have gifted each other with sticks and bark, and maybe we humans can think about planting a tree (or many!) in their honor.

Christo and Amelia performing a nest switch

We observed the hawks performing a nest switch on March 10, when Christo brought food to Amelia at the nest and she took it to eat in a nearby tree. While she was out, Christo laid down in the nest. This is a sure sign an egg has been laid, and the pair did not perform this action the day before, so we are confident in saying the first egg was laid on the 10th. This corresponds with their schedule of laying eggs in early-mid March. You can see all the previous dates in the Nest Notes section of our Tompkins Hawk Archive.

This will be the scene for the next few weeks as Amelia will stay hidden in the nest brooding while Christo is responsible for providing all the meals for the two of them.

Amelia brooding

Amelia looking out from her nest

Leading up to this milestone last week, we observed the hawks mating and sharing food. Below, Christo approaches Amelia as she perched on the roof of the Christodora building one evening.

Christo approaches Amelia

Christo lands on Amelia's back

Christo and Amelia mating

They mated a couple of times, then Christo took off for a few minutes.

Christo and Amelia mating

He returned with a fresh rat.

Christo brings Amelia a rat

Amelia looks on at Christo and his rat

Amelia didn't seem too interested at first, so Christo kept flying around with the rat.

Christo takes his rat to a chimney top

He took it to another part of the building and called to her, as if he wanted her to come get it. Over the last eight years, we have never seen Amelia, nor Dora before her, come to him when he calls.

Below, Christo is on the lower left while Amelia looks on from her perch on the right.

Christo and Amelia in their positions atop the Christodora

After getting no response, Christo took the rat back up to the roof.

Christo takes off with his rat

Christo carries his rat to the Christodora roof

Christo approaches Amelia with the rat

He kept flying back and forth with it, showing it to her.

Christo brings the rat to Amelia

Finally, he took the rat right to her.

Amelia shows interest in Christo's rat

Now she's interested!

Amelia decides to take the rat from Christo

Amelia picks up the rat

Amelia took the rat from him and ate it on top of the roof.

Amelia takes the rat from Christo and prepares for dinner

We've noticed in the past that both Amelia and Dora acted slow and sluggish just before egg laying time. Amelia hasn't been very active recently, and on this day, she really didn't want to budge from her perch. This could be an indicator that an egg is imminent.

Later, Christo took an after-dinner stroll through the sky over the park as the sun went down. If all goes well, he'll have a busy summer raising a family.

Christo soars at sunset

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Rat Academy 2022

The NYC Department of Health has been hosting regular online Rat Academy training sessions, and the next one is coming up Thursday, March 3, 5-7pm. Registration is free and open to everyone, including homeowners, tenants, building supers and staff, and management companies.

Cute little rat

We've attended Rat Academy in the past and found it to be extremely informative and educational. As we've lost several East Village red-tailed hawk fledglings to rodenticide poisoning over the last several years, it's important to be informed about the most safe and effective methods for preventing rat infestations.

Rat looking for a snack

You can learn more about rats on NYC's DOH page here, and can see the schedule for upcoming Rat Academy sessions here. There are several sessions being offered in March, April and May.

A trio of rats

The city provides a handy tool for looking up rat reports by property on their Rat Information Portal map. And you can learn more about the map reports here.