Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk antics

This nesting season is proving to be a successful one for our Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawks. The three fledglings continue to explore the park, chase squirrels, and practice their impressive swooping skills. Yesterday morning, one cruised past my ankles and dodged through a maze of pedestrians and cyclists as it stealthily skimmed the pavement, sneaking up on a flock of pigeons. After the trauma of losing a fledgling last year, it's wonderful to see the whole hawk family healthy and active.

Two of the three Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledglins

The above photo shows two of the three fledglings. The one on the left is significantly larger than the one on the right, suggesting these may be female and male (females are usually larger). The one on the left has more yellowish color in its chest, indicating it is the younger of the two (the yellow color turns white as they age).

Here is some video of the pair chilling out and studying their surroundings:

This photo was taken on a different day, so I'm not sure if it's the same two fledglings, but it does appear that one is bigger than the other. I speculate that there are two females and one male, but can't be certain.

Red-tail siblings playing in the grass

Red-tail siblings playing in the grass in Tompkins Square

Here is video of the pair playing around in the grass:

This video shows my favorite moment so far this breeding season. As the two fledglings play on the grass, dad Christo flies overhead (out of frame) screaming. Both the fledglings and the squirrel react to the sound. It's one of only a couple of times I've been able to capture Christo's voice on video.

On a different day, two of the siblings share another play date on the lawn.

Red-tail siblings playing on the lawn

Red-tail siblings playing on the lawn in Tompkins Square

Fledgling red-tailed hawk running in the grass

Chasing a squirrel:

Fledgling red-tail chasing a squirrel

Fledgling red-tail chasing a squirrel

Fledgling red-tail chasing a squirrel

Fledgling red-tail chasing a squirrel

Fledgling red-tailed hawk frolicking in the grass

Dad Christo calls the kids for dinner. He has a fresh pigeon.

Christo ringing the dinner bell

One of the kids responds and swoops in for the meal.


Christo watches over the fledgling while it eats.

Christo and one of his kids

Back to playing on the lawn.

Fledgling red-tail in Tompkins Square

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in Tompkins Square

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in Tompkins Square Park

Early on a recent morning, two of the fledglings were frolicking on the central lawn. At the time, no one was around and it was a safe place for them to be.

Hawk siblings having a discussion on the grass

Looking for trouble

Fledgling hawk in Tompkins Square

Fledgling hawk out for a walk

Unfortunately, the fun ended when someone took their dog out on the lawn and scared off the birds. This happens daily and is extremely frustrating. The lawn is fenced off and there is signage saying no pets allowed, but there is always someone who refuses to respect the environment. On this day, several people asked the dog owner to use the state-of-the-art dog run, which is just a few feet away, but the person responded with arrogance and defiance, then verbally assaulted those who tried to point out the hawks and the reasons for keeping dogs out.

Personally, I'm tired of fighting with people about this. The selfishness and disregard for the wildlife in the park is both disappointing and infuriating. This park is severely understaffed, so it's almost impossible to get any help when needed. The majority of people I've encountered are thrilled to see the hawks and are respectful of their space, but there is a minority of people who ruin it for everyone. 

Fledgling red-tailed hawk takes flight

It's my hope that the fledglings learn quickly to be wary of people, and grow strong enough to avoid danger. They're a lot like toddlers at this stage - learning to fly, hunt, and navigate their world. Everything is new to them and it won't be long before they take off to explore the world beyond the park and the city. Until then, enjoy every moment.

In related hawk news, Cornell's resident red-tailed hawks, Big Red and Arthur, had four successful fledges this year, a first for the web cam stars. This interesting article details how having an additional chick (they normally have three) affected the hatch and fledge times of the entire brood.

In the end, ". . . the hatch of the first egg to the fledge of the fourth nestling, the 2022 nesting season was 92 days long, securing its status as the longest nesting period in Cornell Hawks history." The fourth chick fledged after spending 52 days on the nest.
To compare, Christo and his first mate, Dora, had their longest nesting period in 2014, when the first hatch occurred on May 8, and the third chick fledged on July 2 after spending eight additional days on the nest after the first two fledged. The third chick spent 53 days on the nest. We have accurate dates for 2014 because we were able to use a web cam.

Monday, June 27, 2022

2022 NYC Drag March and Queer Liberation March

Below are some highlights from the Drag March and Queer Liberation March that took place this last weekend in NYC. See the full collection of 2022 Pride photos here.

The Drag March is an annual favorite, and we caught the crowd Friday evening as they gathered in Tompkins Square Park before marching across town to the Stonewall Inn.

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

There was an extra layer of emotion in the air this year as the March followed news of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade earlier in the day.

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

2022 NYC Drag March

Here is video of all the marchers leaving Tompkins Square:

On Sunday, we caught up with the Queer Liberation March in lower Manhattan as participants made their way uptown to Washington Square Park.

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

Reaction to the SCOTUS decision also featured prominently.

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

2022 NYC Queer Liberation March

This video shows the beginning of the March as it came up Church Street towards Franklin Street.

Previous Pride posts:

Thursday, June 23, 2022

This week in hawks - playing in the grass and chasing squirrels

It's been an active week for the Tompkins Square Park red-tailed hawk family. All three fledglings are flying really well and are growing more curious about their environment and other wildlife within the park. They've been aggressively going after squirrels, but the rodents are too fast and agile for them to catch...yet.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in the grass

This fledgling went on the prowl in some tall vegetation.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in the grass in Tompkins Square

Fledgling red-tailed hawk exploring the grass

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in a meadow

Fledgling red-tailed hawk frolicking in the grass

The resident squirrel in this area was not pleased to have hawks around, and spent the morning tormenting them.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk eyes a squirrel

In this video, two of the fledglings interact with the squirrel.

They then spend some time playing in grass.

Land shark!

Fledgling red-tailed hawk playing in the grass

Fledgling red-tailed hawk goofing around

One of the young hawks charged at this squirrel, who was not afraid and stood its ground. The squirrels seem to know the fledglings aren't much of a danger yet.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk charges a squirrel

Hawk and squirrel meeting in a tree

When not playing on the ground, the fledglings have been toying with branches and leaves high in the trees.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk toying with branches

Sometimes they decide to rest on the fences of the park. When they do this, it's imperative to give them space. This photo was taken from a long distance with a zoom lens and cropped. Other people in the area were respectful and did not approach the birds.

Two of the Tompkins Square red-tailed hawk fledglings

Fledgling red-tailed hawk relaxing on a fence

Fledgling red-tailed hawk chilling out on a fence

While two of the fledglings played on the ground, the third remained up in a tree with mom, Amelia.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in Tompkins Square

Amelia and one of her kids

Amelia and fledgling in Tompkins Square

It's been interesting to observe how close Amelia has stayed with her chicks post-fledge. The previous resident female, Dora, didn't really stick around after fledge time. As soon as her nest duties were done, she took off to the dome of Most Holy Redeemer church on E. 3rd Street and stayed there for most of the summer. Amelia has barely ventured out of the park in months, and continues to actively participate in feeding the fledglings, which is primarily Christo's job. Both parents have been sharing the work, which has been a joy to watch.

In this video, Amelia handles a small rat that had been dropped off by Christo. We thought she was going to eat it herself, but she took it back to one of the fledglings for it to have for dinner.

After an enormous meal, one of the fledglings slips into a food coma. This is normal, and after the hawk slept off its meal, it returned to its fledgling activities.

Fledgling red-tailed hawk in food coma

The park squirrels are not the only ones unhappy to have the hawks around. This video from Wednesday shows one of the fledglings being bullied by blue jays. Although the hawk did nothing to harm them, its very existence is enough to get them upset, especially if they are nesting in the area.

After sunset on Sunday, June 19, we were stunned to see one of the fledglings on the roof of a building. Exploring outside the park doesn't usually happen until the hawks learn to catch food, but this one is quite the explorer!

Juvenile red-tailed hawk on a roof two weeks after fledging

The hawk stayed there for only a few seconds and we only had a chance to get one photo in the dim light, but it's enough to confirm it's definitely a fledgling and not an adult.