Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas with Christo and Amelia

I spent Christmas Day in Tompkins Square Park with resident red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia. It was a beautiful cold sunny winter day, and the park was mostly quiet. 

The cold weather (about 27°F) caused Christo to remain fluffed up, trapping warm air with his feathers.

Christo perched in a tree.

He conserved energy by perching for long periods of time in the sun.

Christo the red-tailed hawk.

As he sat in this tree, an immature Cooper's hawk joined him. I've seen Christo share trees - and even branches - with Cooper's hawks many times. He's highly tolerant of them for reasons only he knows.

An immature Cooper's hawk.

Later, Christo flew around the Christodora building on Avenue B.

Christo flying above the Christodora building.

As he did that, Amelia perched on the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A.

Amelia perched on a church cross.

She took off, revealing a full crop.

Amelia in flight.

Back in the park, Christo actively hunted for rats.

Christo perched in the sun.

He made a couple of unsuccessful dives at rodents as they scurried beneath some bushes.

Christo diving for prey.

He flew past me very close - so close that I chopped his wings and feet out of the photo.

Christo flying very close to the camera.

The hawks aren't bothered by the cold. If anything, they seem more active in winter than they do in hot summer.

Christo looking straight at me.

I'll never get tired of Christo looking straight at me. I really wish he could tell me what he's thinking.

Christo's sweet face.

Christo nabbed two small rats in the span of about ten minutes. In the photo below, he's holding one in his talons. In the few seconds it took me to get closer to him, he'd swallowed it whole.

Christo with a small rat.

Here is a view of the feather pattern on Christo's back. Also note the white tips of his tail feathers and the position of the black band across the red feathers. These are features that can be used to identify him. The dark cheek patch under his eye is also visible here, which is one of his identifying marks.

The feather pattern on Christo's back.

After eating, Christo met up with Amelia on Avenue A.

Christo and Amelia perched together on church cross.

Something caught Christo's attention and he took off south along Avenue A. Amelia soon followed.

Amelia watches Christo take off.

Christo flies off as Amelia remains perched.

All in all, it was a peaceful day and the hawks had plenty to eat. Merry Christmas.

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