Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Welcome to the 2023 Tompkins Square hawk nesting season

The week of Valentine's Day is generally the time of year we see our local hawks begin to display mating behavior, and Tompkins Square red-tails, Amelia and Christo, are right on schedule.

Amelia and Christo in a locust tree.

This was the scene on Valentine's Day. The mating is so quick, I almost missed it.

The pair has been seen mating atop the Christodora building.

Christo approaches Amelia as she perches on the roof of the Christodora building.

Christo and Amelia mating.

Christo and Amelia mating.

Here is some video of bonding activity on the rooftop. Please forgive the shaky camera work on this video - I was without a tripod on this day and I was zoomed in from a million miles away.

Amelia on the left, Christo on the right:

Amelia and Christo perched on the roof of the Christodora..

This photo of Amelia was taken today as she basked in the sun (66°F in February!).

Amelia taking a sun bath in her favorite locust tree.

As she perched, Christo flew in and they mated again (note her giant crop - stuffed with pigeon!).

Amelia all fluffed up:
Christo and Amelia with her feathers fluffed up.

The mating is taking place as the hawks build a new nest for this season. Here, Christo carries a stick:

Christo carrying a stick to the nest.

The pair have chosen a new location this year. They've returned to a tree they've used in the past, but their nest is in a new place within the tree.

Christo and Amelia working on their nest.

I saw the hawks building the foundation for this nest back in July/August 2022 when their fledgling was still around. They then ignored it until early January when they decided to go all out with construction. Last year's nest is still intact, but I have not seen them pay any attention to it.


Christo in his new nest.

The new nest is higher than previous locations, so the hawks likely have a good view from up there. As for us human observers, I suspect we won't be able to see much once the leaves on the tree grow in. When I saw the hawks working on this last summer, this part of the tree was entirely hidden and the hawks could not be seen at all when they were inside. If they are after more privacy, I'm happy for them.

Amelia perched next to her new nest.

Christo carrying a stick to the nest in January:

Christo carrying a stick to the nest.

Christo carrying a stick to the nest.

Christo carrying a stick to the nest.

Amelia on the nest in January:

Amelia in her new nest.


Christo perched next to his new nest.

Amelia today, practicing some yoga:

Amelia stretching.

Amelia and Christo today, after the sun dropped behind some clouds:

Christo takes off as Amelia watches.

So, what's next? If all goes well, we'll continue to see Christo and Amelia mate and work on their nest for the next few weeks, and we can expect egg-laying in early to mid-March. Hatch time is usually late April or early May.

For nest notes from previous years, see the table on my Tompkins Square Hawk Archives. On that page, you will also find links to hawk posts by year (2011-2023).

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

2023 Lunar New Year Lion Dances

We welcomed the Year of the Rabbit by attending the Super Saturday Chinese Lunar New Year Lion Dances in Chinatown this last weekend. The streets were closed to traffic, and several groups with drummers and costumed dancers made their way from business to business, putting on some wonderful performances.

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

Crowds filled the streets while drummers and lions snaked around the neighborhood in a kind of ordered chaos. The temperature was only about 16°F outside, but everyone kept moving, creating a fun heated energy. All the lion dancers were amazing.

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

In this video, a business proprietress offers a lion some confetti in exchange for a blessing.

The lion costumes were all different colors and elaborately decorated. The one below has a bejeweled bird on its head. And those eyelids could open and close!

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

Another dragon blesses a business with good luck:

The intersection of Mott and Mosco streets was the heart of the celebration when I was there. Several lions gathered and the crowd grew more intense.

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

Five lions dance on Mott Street:

Lions and drummers visit businesses on Pell Street:

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

Deafening fire crackers filled the streets with clouds of smoke.

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Dances

I tried to capture the insane firecracker noise in this video. How many cell phones can you count? LOL.

Confetti rained down everywhere as all the lions gathered for one last hurrah before nightfall. 

2023 NYC Lunar New Year Lion Puppets
"The rabbit is the symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese Culture, thus 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope."

- Shen, I. (2023, Jan.).  Lunar New Year 2023—Hopping into the Year of the Rabbit!.

2023 NYC Lunar New Year - Year of the Rabbit
See more photos of the lion dance celebration on my Flickr page.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Moonlighting with Christo and Amelia

Earlier this week, Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Amelia and Christo, perched on the Christodora building as the moon rose behind them.

Amelia and Christo with the moon rising behind them.

It's always a race against the moon when this situation occurs - as the moon moves, the angle of viewing changes and it can be a challenge to keep the birds visible in front of it. On this day, the hawks were kind enough to sit still for a lengthy period of time.


Amelia with the moon behind her.


Christo with the moon rising behind him.

Christo and the moon.

Christo with the moon behind him.

I took a short video to show how far away I was and the difficulty of photographing at this distance with trees in between. The video shakes because I was shooting at 1365mm without a tripod.