Thursday, March 9, 2023

Intruder hawk snatches pigeon in front of Christo and Amelia

Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, have recently had their hands/talons full fending off other red-tails invading their territory. Many of these hawks are young and migrating to find territories of their own. Earlier this week, I witnessed the pair fighting with a third hawk on the dome of Most Holy Redeemer church on E 3rd Street, and the following day, something interesting happened in the park.

When I arrived at the park, I saw Christo flying around.

Christo in flight.

Amelia was also active, diving from tree to tree.

Amelia diving to a tree.

They seemed agitated and distracted, so I figured another hawk must be around. 

Then hormones took over and the pair took a break for some mating activity.

Christo and Amelia mating.

While this was going on, there was a commotion behind me, and my friend pointed out an immature red-tail on the ground, right in full view of Christo and Amelia. The hawk had apparently caught a pigeon while they were getting busy.

An immature hawk on the ground, mantling prey.

It all happened so fast, and the hawk just happened to land very close to some people.

An immature hawk with a pigeon.

This person is WAY TOO CLOSE. He was taken by surprise when the hawk landed, but he should have backed away. Instead, he got closer to take a photo. People yelled at him, but the hawk took off before anyone could do anything.

For these photos, I was far away, using a telephoto lens, and these images are cropped.

Example of someone being way too close to the hawk.

Thankfully, the hawk was able to fly off with its prey.

Red-tail taking off with its pigeon prey.

Red-tailed hawk flying with pigeon prey.

The hawk took the pigeon to a nearby tree, still in full view of the resident hawk pair. I couldn't believe they were allowing this intruder to come into their territory and take their food.

A young red-tail plucks a pigeon.

Immature red-tailed hawk with a pigeon feather in its beak.

In case anyone is wondering if this is Christo and Amelia's fledgling, it is not. This hawk has different coloring, markings, and the tail is different. I last saw their fledgling in the park last August.
Immature red-tailed hawk with pigeon prey.

As the young hawk plucked the pigeon, Amelia flew into a nearby tree and watched it with a curious look on her face.

Amelia wondering what's up.

The young hawk looked up at her, but didn't budge, and after a few minutes, Amelia returned to her original perch.

Young hawk defiantly looks at Amelia.

Christo made four visits to the young hawk, trying to intimidate it and get it to leave. The youngster chirped at him, but still wouldn't move.

Christo staring at the intruder, trying to intimidate it into leaving.

In this video, Christo is perched above the young hawk, who continues plucking the pigeon, making a lot of vocalizations.

This video takes a better look at the intruder. It's agitated by the presence of Christo and Amelia, and has its hackles up.

The young hawk struggled to eat the pigeon while maintaining its balance in gusty winds. Christo watched it from a nearby tree, which prompted the intruder to remain fluffed up, defensively mantling its dinner (apologies for the siren in the background).

When the young hawk was nearly done eating, Christo decided enough was enough and he dove at the hawk, chasing it out of the park.

Intruders like this young hawk are not a huge threat to Christo and Amelia, but it can become a problem. This situation has happened at the Decorah, Iowa, Bald Eagle nest (on cam) where intruding eagles have distracted the resident female so badly, she abandoned her egg to continue fighting off the invaders. Her mate has been incubating their egg by himself, and it is not known if the egg will survive. It seems their entire nesting season could be ruined by having to defend their territory.

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