Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Dinner with Christo

Christo, the resident male red-tailed hawk of Tompkins Square Park, keeps a schedule. He has always been an orderly individual, keeping a routine and being organized. I most enjoy watching him hunt for the evening meal because he's like clockwork, and he's extremely good at what he does.

Last night, pigeon was on the menu. Christo was perched atop the cross of St Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A & East 10th Street when he spotted his target well inside the park. In a flash, he was off like a rocket and came zooming in from over a block away to grab the pigeon. It never saw him coming.

Once the meal was secured, Christo took it to a high tree branch to prepare.

Pigeons require plucking, an added step of work that is not required for rats, so I've always been curious why the hawks make the choice to go for pigeons over rats (they seem to eat both in equal amounts). I've never eaten either myself, so I don't know if there's a difference in taste. It seems the amount of meat on each creature is about the same.

As Christo plucked the pigeon, he called to his mate, Amelia, to announce dinner was imminent. When he was ready, he flew the pigeon to another tree, where he ate part of it before delivering the rest to Amelia.

A few days earlier, I found Christo in a tree with a very large rat. You can see its tail hanging down in this photo.

Another smaller rat:

Below are just a few random shots of Christo doing his thing.

I'm not forgetting Amelia, but she's been less visible than Christo recently. A good place to see her is when she perches on the roof of the Christodora building (always the north end). I think she must enjoy the sun and view from up there.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Brooding time for our local hawks

Hawk nesting season has officially begun as Tompkins Square red-tailed hawks, Amelia and Christo, are brooding eggs. We do not now how many there are, but hawks usually lay 1-3 eggs per season. If all goes well, it will be a few weeks before hatch time.

Below are some photos from the last few days.

Christo and Amelia perching together:

Christo and Amelia.

They both spotted something...maybe a squirrel messing with their nest. What ever it was, Christo went off to deal with it.

Christo and Amelia.

Later, Christo returned to Amelia as she perched in another tree.

Christo moves in on Amelia.

The obligatory mating photos!

Christo and Amelia mating.

Christo and Amelia mating.

Christo and Amelia mating.

Christo and Amelia mating.

The hawks will continue to mate until the full clutch of eggs is laid.

One way to tell Amelia is in brooding condition is she is less likely to engage in any physical conflict with the resident squirrels. She would normally move right in on this one that crept right up to her.

Amelia glares at a squirrel.

On this day, though, Amelia was definitely conserving energy and mostly ignored the pesky squirrel.

Amelia ignores the squirrel creeping up on her.

I mean, look at this! Not only did the squirrel get very close to Amelia, but it turned its back on her and started grooming itself like there was no danger at all. Tompkins squirrels are tough, but this is still a risky move.

A ballsy squirrel does not care Amelia is staring at it from behind.

This is Amelia and Christo perched together again - you can really see the size difference between them. Amelia (left) is noticeably larger and has a broader chest.

Amelia and Christo.

The pair doing some nestorations:

Amelia and Christo in their nest.

Amelia taking off:

Amelia flies out of the nest.

Back in the nest again, but this time Christo prepares to take off with a chunk of rat.

Christo prepares to take a chunk of rat out of the nest.

He was nice enough to give me a better look at the half-rat before he took it to a tree where he could eat it.

Christo flies overhead with the back half of a rat.

This is Amelia soaring. She'll spend the next several weeks hunkered down in her nest, so it's always nice to observe her enjoying herself catching some air.

Amelia soaring.