red-tailed hawk

Tompkins Square Drama

An update to this blog posting, 8:30 April 4: Dora was picked up in Tompkins Square Park today, April 4, and returned to rehab at WINORR. There is a possibility Christo already has a new female in the nest, for he was seen mating with another female hawk while Dora was in the car. There is concern that if Christo and the new female have eggs and bond over them, Dora will be forced out if she is returned to the park.

When Dora, the resident female red-tailed hawk in Tompkins Square Park, went to rehab at WINORR in November for a wing injury, Christo seemed a bit lost, not knowing where she was. He eventually took up with another adult female and was courting her and mating with her. Dora returned to the park after rehab at the end of February, and after a rocky start, she regained her nest and her mate, and they have been mating regularly and building the nest. For a fantastic history of the drama, see Laura Goggin's blog.

I visited the park on March 24 to check out the pair, and then visited again on April 2. When we arrived on the 2nd, Dora had just been in a fight with another adult red-tailed hawk (apparently not the female Christo had been mating with, nor Christo himself, but a new hawk who had been in the nest). Dora won the fight, but seemed very shocky afterward. We saw her on a low branch near the dog run, and we watched as Christo came in to mate with her, and then as she flew in short bursts from tree to tree before going into the nest. She mated at least two more times, and Christo fed her.

Christo on top of Dora, mating, Tompkins Square Park, April 2

Christo on top of Dora, mating, Tompkins Square Park, April 2

The Chasing the Hawks video shows the pair on March 24 and April 2. To skip to April 2 to see Dora and her behavior after the fight, go to minute 6:37.

These photos were taken on March 24.

Dora on the nest, March 24

Dora on the nest, March 24

Christo, March 24, Tompkins Square Park

Christo, March 24, Tompkins Square Park

Dora on April 2, showing her wonky wing.

Seeing Red

On my walk through Central Park on March 13, I spotted a lot of red! At the feeders, there were house finches sporting red feathers. Near Swampy Pin Oak, I was feeding about 15 cardinals. Then near Maintenance Meadow we spotted what we believe to be a juvenile red-shouldered hawk (it could also be a juvenile Cooper's hawk, but then my headline wouldn't work). Near Rustic Shelter, a red-bellied woodpecker was pecking away. Then we stopped by the Hawk Bench to watch Octavia, a red-tailed hawk and Pale Male's mate, standing on the nest.

You want a yellow cardinal! Check out my yellow! And my red! I ates me cranberries!

You want a yellow cardinal! Check out my yellow! And my red! I ates me cranberries!

I still haven't done my northern cardinal Filming the Feathers video, but it will happen! I have so much video to process. Meanwhile, here are a couple of cardinals I saw on my Central Park jaunt.

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The house finches at the feeders are really showing off their red feathers!

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Red-bellied woodpecker near Rustic Shelter in Central Park

Red-bellied woodpecker near Rustic Shelter in Central Park

We think this youngster is a red-shouldered hawk. The bird has been hanging around the Ramble for at least a week, probably longer. The kid behaves more like a red-shouldered hawk than a Cooper's hawk, hunting squirrels and rats more than birds. But I've checked field guides and searched photos, and I can't swear to the ID here.

On my way to visit Woody (who has red eyes, but it was too dark to photograph my buddy), I stopped by to see Octavia, Pale Male's mate. The beautiful female red-tailed hawk we hope will have more babies to chase later this year.

Octavia on the nest

Octavia on the nest

Hawk Fights

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.

Stretch, before the fight, hunting near Bethesda Fountain, December 24, 2017

Stretch, before the fight, hunting near Bethesda Fountain, December 24, 2017

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Victoria, the victorious hawk, December 24, 2017

Victoria, the victorious hawk, December 24, 2017

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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.

Victoria on Christmas Day, after an attempt to catch a squirrel

Victoria on Christmas Day, after an attempt to catch a squirrel

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.