Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Spring is approaching for Christo and Amelia

As winter seems to be slipping away, Tompkins Square resident red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, are going about their routine of preparing for the upcoming nesting season.

I was happy to find Christo perched atop his golden orb the other evening, actively looking for prey.

Christo perched on his golden flag pole throne.

After several unsuccessful dives from the flag pole, Christo tried another vantage point in a tree.

Christo perched in a locust tree.

From there, he flew down to a fence where he spotted rodents lurking in the shrubbery.

Christo hunting from the top of a fence.

He made an attempt to catch something on the ground, but came up empty-taloned.

Christo takes off.

Not giving up, Christo flew up to a nearby lamp post where he had a view of the area.

Christo perched on a light pole.

Sitting up there in the beautiful late afternoon sun drew the attention of several onlookers who whipped out their cellphones for a quick snap. He didn't seem to mind.

Christo eyes us from atop a light pole.

I watched Christo make several more swoops at rats and pigeons, but he didn't catch any dinner during my visit.

Christo even tried to grab some pigeons off the roofs of some buildings, but just didn't have luck behind him on this evening. So, why was he doing this?  He has to feed himself, of course, but he's also providing meals to his mate, Amelia.

While Christo went through the motions, Amelia patiently watched and waited in a tree nearby.

Amelia perched in a locust tree.

She seems to prefer eating pigeons over rats (don't we all?), and I suspect he puts in the extra effort to try and catch her a pigeon.
As spring begins, the hawks will show more breeding behavior: mating, becoming more territorial, driving squirrels away from their nest, and sharing food. I like this time of year when they are obviously sweet on each other. All our time with them is a gift.
Amelia in her locust tree at sunset.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk

Earlier this month, I attended the annual Boyd Hill Nature Preserve Raptor Fest in St. Petersburg, Florida. One of the featured raptors was this leucistic adult male Red-Tailed Hawk.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk perches on a rehabber's arm.

His striking and unusual plumage drew a lot of attention and questions about his condition.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk spreads his wings.

Apparently, this hawk was doing just fine on his own until he consumed poisoned prey. Thankfully, someone rescued him and took him to a rehabber, who discovered he had a problem with his left eye (see photo below) and was determined to be unreleasable.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk with an eye injury.

Portrait of a leucistic male red-tailed hawk.

You can see in the photo below that he has the red tail.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk perches on a rehabber's arm, showing his red tail.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk perches on a rehabber's arm.

I've seen leucism occur in birds before, but not to this extent. He is quite a beauty.

Portrait of a leucistic male red-tailed hawk.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk perches on a rehabber's arm.

A leucistic male red-tailed hawk perches on a rehabber's arm.

Although leucistic hawks are rare, they're not unheard of and they do manage to survive in the wild. Here is video of a leucistic female feeding her chick last spring in Tennessee.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Nestorations in progress for Christo and Amelia

As nesting season gears up for our local red-tailed hawks, Christo and Amelia, they are spending more time in and around Tompkins Square Park.

Here they are the other evening atop the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A.

Christo & Amelia

And this is Amelia checking out conditions of their nest. It appears they'll be using the same location as last year.

Amelia on her nest.

This is Amelia fluffed up in the cold in one of her favorite locust trees.


This is Christo in the same tree, but on a different day.


We should start seeing some courting behavior such as Christo bringing food gifts to Amelia. This is a photo of her chowing down on...something.

Amelia chowing down.

Amelia soared over me, showing off her beautiful wings and form.

Amelia soaring.

The following are some recent photos I didn't get around to posting earlier. This is Amelia being pursued by one of the pesky neighborhood kestrels. This one is a male.

Amelia being chased by a kestrel.

Amelia and a kestrel.

This is Christo looking bright-eyed and alert, no doubt sizing up some potential prey.


I caught him flying around on a gloomy day. Even when the lighting is bad, he looks good.



Finally, this is Christo perched on the cross of St Brigid's church on Avenue B. This is a good place to spot the hawks, as it provides them with a direct view of their nest and territory within the park.


If all goes well, we can expect the hawks to continue working on their nest for the next month or so, and expect eggs some time in March.