It's winter, and time for visiting juvenile red-tailed hawks in Central Park. They're coming through, trying to establish themselves, and sometimes they fight with each other, or the resident adult hawks knock them off their branches and chase them out.
On Christmas Eve, we were following a first-year hawk as he hunted and flew around the Bethesda Fountain area. We called him Stretch because he could really stretch his neck up to look around. While stretching that neck perched on a branch of a tree just west of Bethesda Fountain, he was smacked by another, larger first-year hawk. Thus was the first Battle of Bethesda Fountain. After the fight, Stretch flew south and the winning hawk surveyed her realm from a tree on the east side of the fountain. The following photos were pulled from the video, which you can see below.
The victorious young hawk we named Victoria, and we followed her that evening and for several days after. On Christmas Day, we followed Vicky around the Bandshell/Bethesda area. She was hunting, and her Christmas wish was granted in the afternoon: a squirrel dinner.
I put together another video, called Ho! Ho! Hawks!!!, which covers December 25, 27, 29 and 31. Most of the video shows little Victoria, and there is graphic footage of her eating a squirrel and a rat. I tried to cut it down a bit, but it is interesting to watch how she keeps looking around to protect her meal while eating on the ground (the squirrel was too heavy to fly to a tree). There is a brief look at Fred, the West Side adult red-tailed hawk that believes Bethesda Fountain is his territory, looking down before chasing the kid.
These photos show the kid on December 25.
These photos are from December 27 and 31.
After New Year's Day, we saw Victoria on January 5 and 7. On the 7th, she was first near Strawberry Fields, where Ginger, Fred's red-tailed mate, was perched in a pine tree staring at her. The youngster flew east, but then flew to Cherry Hill, where Ginger chased her out. After more attempts to return, the youngster went after Ginger, and would probably have kept fighting if Fred hadn't swooped in and chased her off. Two kids fighting? Victoria wins. Victoria tag-teamed by two adult hawks? The adults, no question! Fortunately, I was able to film part of the battle.