Red-tailed Hawk nest at The Plaza Hotel - January 9th, 2013

I haven't mentioned this before (because I didn't yet have the amount of evidence I needed) but it's now clear to me that the Southeastern Central Park Red-tailed Hawks I've been following are building a nest at The Plaza Hotel.

I'd been watching the Hawks bring twigs to a particular ledge more frequently than to other spots on the building's facade over the last couple of weeks. Because they had been bringing bits to other ledges from time to time, I couldn't be sure if they were in nest-building 'practice' mode or if they were seriously seeking a new nest location.

The Hawks had started building a nest at the nearby Crown Building last year but that nest was poorly constructed and never amounted to anything.

Another reason I was keeping mum about this was because I wanted to be sure of this activity before contacting Plaza management and alerting them to the presence of the Hawks and the nest.

After I returned from my visit to the park I called and spoke directly with an exceptionally courteous and receptive representative of the hotel's management staff. The news of the Hawks and their potential nest was well-received. In my conversation I mentioned that under Federal Law, the Hawks and the nest are protected and that I would be happy to pass along the wording of and link to the statute for them to pass on to their appropriate colleagues. To my surprise, the representative asked me to also please include in my email what precautions the building's engineering department should take to protect the Hawks and the nest.

I sent my email to the Plaza contact with all the information later this afternoon.

Below are some of the highlight photos from today's visit to the park.

Hawk at the location of the nest:

Mate joining the other at the ledge:

Both Hawks working on the nest (manipulating twigs):

The ledge is not exceptionally deep but it is quite wide and would be big enough for any hatchlings to run across and practice their jump-flapping. 

The cornice that runs along the length of the hotel may not protect the Hawks from much rain but it's better than nothing (especially when you consider Hawks usually build their nests in open trees).

A positive is that the hotel faces Central Park and is perhaps the same distance to the trees as Pale Male's nest is. A negative is that any fledgling would have to fly over busy 59th Street to reach the trees but as we have seen with Pale Male's, Bobby and Violet's, and Bobby and Rosie's fledglings, such first flights are largely successful and fledglings fly greater than necessary distances to safety their first time around.

Of course, it's still too early to tell if the Hawks will continue to build their nest at this location and have a springtime brood. I'll keep track of this activity as much as possible and report any developments as they happen but my ability to do so will be hampered from time to time when I can't get out for lunchtime breaks.

The electrical cables seen at the metal fixture are well-wrapped in their rubber encasements. They look to be the energy source for the lighting of the windows on either side of the nest. If that's the case, I hope it won't be too much to ask if the hotel management could turn off the closest lights so as not to disturb the Hawks at night (should the female lay eggs).