Romping Raptors, Tompkins Square Park - January 29, 2012

There was a big protest rally scheduled to occur in Washington Square Park on Sunday so rather than deal with the noise and crowds, I instead visited Tompkins Square Park in the hopes of seeing a resident raptor. 

There is a resident Cooper's Hawk which I was happy to see within the first few minutes of my arrival:

Some nearby chirping caught my attention. The quick-footed birds turned out to be Downy Woodpeckers:

After walking around the park for a few minutes, a red-tailed hawk was seen in the distance (along the south side of the park):

It was one of three known juveniles that still hang around the park and neighboring blocks. I saw what might have been one of these hawks playfully chasing a flock of pigeons above 1st Avenue and 7th Street on Saturday.

It looked intensely at something in the distance. I turned and saw another juvenile circling the sky (at the northeastern side of the park):

The flying hawk eventually disappeared after making a few circles.

The juvenile I was with rushed at a squirrel on the ground but didn't catch it. It walked on the lawn for several steps.

I kept my distance so as not to call attention to the hawk on the ground. No matter, no one other than a person standing nearby happened to notice it fly to the ground anyway. 

Oblivious park-goers:

The hawk's flight from the fence to a tree caused a stir though. Folks were caught off guard but were delighted to see it:

The juvenile spotted something in the distance:

It rushed at another squirrel but didn't catch anything. After a few minutes it returned close to where I was standing:

It's pretty fascinating that the Tompkins Square Park hawks regularly eat squirrels (as I've learned from seeing others' photos as proof) but the Washington Square Park hawks generally avoid them. Of course, the WSP hawks are older and wiser and probably know from experience that squirrels are not usually worth the effort when there are so many mice and rats to go for first.

The juvenile went to a park corner tree where leftovers were stored on a big, wide branch:

Prey's head fully-visible (whiskers, sunlight passing through its ear):

The Cooper's Hawk on a new perch overlooking the west side of the park:

Red-tail wiping its beak clean:

Peregrine falcon chasing prey:

The red-tailed hawk flew from its tree to a building overlooking the park:

The following scene was incredible to witness if you're a raptor lover.. The Cooper's Hawk was peacefully sitting when all of a sudden a peregrine falcon appeared and zoomed past, chasing a pigeon. It grabbed at a pigeon in mid-air under the Cooper's Hawk nose. The Cooper's Hawk split. The peregrine didn't make enough contact with the pigeon so chased it again (or if I'm mistaken, chased a second pigeon.. it all happened so fast). The second attack was a mid-air failure as well but the peregrine looked determined. It was zooming back and forth over Avenue A in pursuit. The peregrine then flew over the area of the park I was standing then circled back over Avenue A.  

The peregrine even dive-bombed the red-tailed hawk a couple of times but didn't harm it.


The red-tail left the building after a little while and perched in a tree at the outskirts of the park:

My last photo from the day mirrored my first shot from the day (except the last shot was of the red-tail whereas the first was of the Cooper's Hawk). This was wholly unintentional but a delight to notice when looking through my photos: