No Hawks the last two days

It's assumed Bobby and Rosie are faring well. It's just been a bit of bad timing for me and my Hawk-watching colleagues on the ground sightings-wise the last couple of days. :)

Central Park birding at The Pond - August 28th, 2012

Resident Black-crowned Night Heron in a tree over the water's edge:


Slowly moving from branch to branch:









Female Mallard:


Separating the mud from the water:




Juvenile male Mallard:




Young Starlings:



The Black-crowned Night Heron inched closer to the branch's tip and watched for a pond Redbreasted Sunfish (a fish I'd seen the Night Heron catch before):



Oh sure, now you show up!:


I had been looking up at the corner of The Plaza where the southeastern Red-tailed Hawk usually perches. I was standing at the 59th Street intersection by the park waiting for the light to change. I saw nothing until there was a flurry of wings and feathers as the Hawk appeared, flying off the building and over the park. I was only able to whip off a couple of decent photos of the bird before it disappeared over the tree tops. 

Follow the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's Osprey's flights

Photo credit: National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy



The Osprey Project Team (from left): Ranger Dave Taft, Coleman P. Burke, Dr. Robert Kennedy, Don Riepe, Ranger Colleen Sorbera.


As you may remember from my Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge visit post from May, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, a nonprofit group, fitted the Refuge's resident male Osprey (named Coley after the Harbor Conservancy's Board Director C.P. Burke) with a GPS transmitter for research and tracking purposes. You can sign up to receive regular email updates on the Osprey by visiting http://jamaicabayosprey.com/. The site hopes to have the bird's live flight patterns up and running soon so you won't have to wait for email updates.

I signed up recently and received the following email (accompanied by the great photos above):

We are excited to be able to share with you the travels of an adult male Osprey currently nesting in Jamaica Bay.

Working with ornithologist Dr. Robert Kennedy, the Harbor Conservancy and Gateway National Recreation Area have outfitted an Osprey at the wildlife refuge with a satellite tracker to follow his journeys, including his yearly migration south. Our plan is to track the bird for two years.

See a great story in The New York Times about the project.

A website on our Osprey with a map of his daily flights will soon be available at JamaicaBayOsprey.com. We will email you periodic updates in the meantime.

Hawk updates

- No WSP Red-tailed Hawks were seen by the little search party I was in last night after work. We searched for a good couple of hours in various parks and blocks in between (scanned rooftops, water towers, etc.) to no avail.

- Over the last couple of weeks, Bobby and Rosie have been seen bringing twigs to a new location; a window ledge at NYU's Shimkin Hall, a building next door to Bobst Library. They have been bringing the nesting material to the ledge regularly, sometimes a few times in one day. It's said that Red-tailed Hawks often have a 'secondary' nest that they build for various reasons; to trick predators into thinking that's their primary nest, to use as a back-up if necessary, or for other reasons no one can know for sure but this is not unusual behavior and it doesn't necessarily mean Bobby and Rosie will lay eggs there. The window ledge is wide and deep so if chosen, it looks like it would be a good alternative to the current nest location.

Because the new potential nest is on NYU campus, I notified NYU officials who have assured me they would make sure the people who use the space behind the window will get notified of the activity and let the Hawks go about their business undisturbed.

- Pale Male's mate Zena had been reported missing/absent from Central Park since late July! Pale Male had then been seen with a partner since August 20th (in the nest and on buildings in the area) but Lincoln of Pale Male dot com and other local Hawk-watchers weren't completely sure if it was Zena who had returned to the park. It turns out that the Hawk is not Zena after all but perhaps a new mate for Pale Male. No one knows what happened to Zena or if she'll make an appearance again. If the new Hawk does stay with Pale Male, she would be his third mate this year (Lima, Zena, now ???). Stay tuned to http://palemale.com/ for updates.

- Regarding Pale Male's two offspring in the care of WINORR, they are still recovering nicely but there is a question as to where they should get released once they are well enough since museums and businesses around Central Park still use the same rodenticide as usual and the wildlife rehabilitators do not want to put the little Hawks in danger again.

Rosie and Bobby's togetherness - August 26th, 2012

After a few days of no Red-tailed Hawk sightings no matter when I did my park searches, I finally saw Rosie and Bobby today. Other locals had seen Bobby, Rosie, and a fledgling over the last few days so at least the Hawks were not wholly absent.

Rosie and Bobby were reported seen together on a window ledge at NYU's Shimkin Hall. I was lucky to see Rosie still at Shimkin when I arrived at Washington Square Park minutes later:


Within a couple of minutes she flew north:





She landed on a water tower:



She flew off her perch the moment I was checking my camera settings. 

Thankfully, a Hawk was seen in the trees at the western side of the park so I joined fellow Hawk-watchers to observe it. We thought it was Rosie at the time but after going home and looking closer at my photos, I am pretty sure this Hawk was Bobby. 

There are a couple of ways to tell them apart. His head is more brown than red and the undersides of his wings are not as heavily-patterned with red feather markings as Rosie's. Plus, his tail feathers now are more staggered in shape and size as he moults than hers. Hers are more evenly-spaced and he has two noticeable splits on either side of his tail feathers.




He and Rosie had been seen gathering nesting material twigs in recent days.

Bobby was walking on dead branches and twigs. One of the branches snapped from his weight so he fell down through the tree but kept a tight hold of his nice twig:


Flying through the trees and heading north out of the park:



He flew in a semi-circle above the area of the park we were standing in and disappeared. It looked at first like he may have landed high in trees nearby but he may have just kept flying. The foliage is still very thick. I spotted Rosie high up in a tree where I thought Bobby might have landed. In either case, it was definitely Rosie who was next seen perched high above:






She flew off her perch after about twenty five minutes.

Note how red her wing patterning is compared to Bobby's between this photo of her and the one of him falling through the tree several photos up:








Watching pigeons fly about her:







A pigeon landed near her:


After a couple of minutes it flew away from her:


She had relaxed at her new perch for so long (forty five minutes), many pigeons from that flock came and went on the branches near her.





She flew outside the park and landed on an antenna of a building diagonally southwest of the park (the building with the words "Washington View" carved into the stone for those of you who know the area):






After a few minutes she started soaring in circles above the southern border of the park:



Two small feathers growing in at her upper wing tips, tail feathers rather evenly-spaced and almost equal length:


I overheard a man tell his young daughter (referring to the Hawks), "Look, there's two of them!"

Thanks to hearing him say that, I took my camera off Rosie and just then saw Bobby taking off from his building top perch.


Lighter patterning on the underside of his wings, more uniform wing feathers, and more unevenly-spaced tail feathers:


Rosie had soared north and Bobby followed her. I saw both their silhouettes above the park but lost sight of both of them soon enough.

I spotted Rosie sitting at the construction area of Two Fifth Avenue when I reached the northwest corner of the park. Two Fifth is an apartment building center-north of the park:









She soared in several circles above the northern part of the park:


Flying northwest of Two Fifth Avenue:


After a few minutes I saw who might have been Rosie soaring north up Fifth Avenue, toward the Empire State Building (but probably only landing around 14th Street):




My fellow Hawk-watchers did not see this Hawk's flight since they were on University Place (and I was at Fifth) but they did then see a Hawk fly in the same direction of the first Hawk up 5th Avenue a few minutes later. It was the second Hawk following the other. It had been a lengthy outing and the Hawks were so far north, we all bid each other a good day and went our separate ways.

Nice to see a Hawk after long last and nice to see Bobby and Rosie together!