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.

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