Thanksgiving Day's Tompkins Square Park Hawks

Rosie Hawk back in action and looking fabulous - November 30th, 2013

A fellow Hawk-watcher who was in Washington Square Park a few minutes before me texted me to report he first spotted Rosie on a building before she chased some pigeons and landed in a tree. 

I was worried sick for her and was hoping she was not sick from what might have been a poisoned rat (mentioned in a previous post) so hearing that someone found her doing well was a great relief.

I was en route to the park when I received my friend's text but I had been delayed by the sight of a Red-tailed Hawk in the Lower East Side chasing pigeons.

It landed on an air conditioner after a few passes:

There are lots of Red-tails in the LES nowadays so I don't think this was Bobby visiting the East Side. 

The Hawk looked like it was going to stay put for a while so I left it and rushed over to the park. I got there in time to see Rosie in her tree:


She looks almost identical to Bobby when in her winter plumage, especially with the two white streaks of feathers along her chin (that I like to call mutton chops). But her body shape, redder head feathers at certain angles in the sun, and overall look help distinguish her from him.

Rosie chased a couple of pigeons while heading south out of the park. My friend and I followed her but couldn't find her.

We returned to the park area and my friend soon spotted her on an NYU flagpole outside the eastern side of the park.

She was sitting on the pole for so long, I easily became distracted by a Woodpecker near me:

Falling for Woodpeckers has screwed me up in the past and this time was no different because I missed photographing Rosie jump off her pole while I was checking my Woodpecker photos.

Rosie flew over the park, landed on a balcony at the apartment building at Two Fifth Avenue then south out of the park again. We searched for her along West 3rd Street (a block south of the park) and spotted her flying in low circles over the buildings a few times until we lost her again.

I spotted Rosie on the Judson Church cross soon after we returned to the park:

She flew over the park square and headed right to One Fifth Avenue:

My friend pointed out Bobby flying east out of the park so I looked too but in that split second we missed where Rosie wound up.

My friend then did some amazing spotting and saw Rosie sitting on a lower level than usual on One Fifth.

Spot the Hawk:

We watched her relax and preen and digest. Her crop was full so it was clear she was up there enjoying the sun and her meal. But we were freezing cold so I left after another hour when I could no longer take the cold and the wait to see if she would move.

Evening update: A fellow Hawk-watcher reported seeing Bobby and Rosie roosting together at the Red Roost Inn this evening.

Passing juvenile Bald Eagle and Bobby on his own - November 29th, 2013

I visited Washington Square Park twice today in the hopes of finding Rosie but had no luck. But I did get to see Bobby the second time I visited the park.

A huge raptor appeared from the northeast, flew past One Fifth Avenue, over the park, then continued flying southwest. I could tell it was not Bobby or Rosie. A friend and I pored over the photos I took and we are pretty sure it was a juvenile Bald Eagle passing through.

Bobby appeared atop One Fifth Avenue almost ten minutes later:

He flew off after twelve minutes, circled above the blocks east of the park, then headed northeast.

I saw him perched on Judson Memorial Church's cross thirteen minutes later:

He flew off after eleven minutes, heading southwest:

It was getting darker out so I waited for him or Rosie to fly into the Red Roost Inn for the evening.

Bobby flew in almost half an hour after I last saw him:

I looked in all the known Rosie roosts but did not find her.

Thanksgiving Day - Part one of two. November 28th

This first post will be of my Washington Square Park visit today. My second post (which I'll try to complete and publish tomorrow) will be about the Tompkins Square Park visit I had later today when I saw and photographed three Red-tailed Hawks (none of which were Bobby and Rosie).

I spent an hour and a half this morning looking for Bobby and Rosie but did not see either of them. That was disappointing not only because I hadn't been able to visit them in days but because I saw so many new rat traps at the park and Rosie may have eaten part of a poisoned rat on Saturday the 23rd.

A fellow Hawk-watcher was in the park on the 23rd and saw Rosie standing near a dead rat that was lying beside the park's new bathroom that is still undergoing construction. My friend saw Rosie take the rat body to a tree and eat part of it before she moved on, leaving the rest of the rat on the branch.

That area undergoing renovation has rat traps with rodentice in them. And as the new Park Administrator Sarah Neilson wrote me, all the traps in the park (per her email) have the rodenticide Bromadiolone. So it's not a stretch to assume that the rat lying dead in the open was a poisoned rat. 

Other Hawk-watchers or park regulars told me they had seen a Hawk either roosting at the Red Roost Inn at night or at regular perches along the park during the daytime but were not able to identify which Hawk they saw.

I waited to mention Rosie's potentially dangerous meal so as not to create unnecessary worry, especially since I rather expected to get a chance to check on the Hawks (and see both of them) within a day or two of her eating that rat but unforeseen busyness and an illness precluded me from visiting the park until today.

During my walk I was filled with dread since I saw 27 new rat traps in the park today. I will assume all these traps contain the rodenticide Bromadiolone (per Ms. Neilson).

I left a lot of the background/surrounding area in the majority of the photos below in order to show that these traps are different traps taken at different locations. I did this mainly so I could be sure I wasn't including images of the same traps at different angles. No, these 27 traps are unique:

Trap just visible behind construction tarp:

There were plenty of garbage cans with their lids dangling to the sides with their bags wide open, easy for rats to climb into in order to get food:

A trap across from Bobst Library (where the Hawks' nest is) and an open can:

What are we to take away from this? That the Park's policy is of an all-out rat poison offensive (with no regard to the raptors or other animals and pets that may eat the poisoned rats) but to not bother with ensuring rats cannot access food in the garbage cans?

Park maintenance tools left unattended:

More abandoned park maintenance tools and bin:

Park Maintenance station. This area is usually a mess what with tools and garbage lying around:

If you too are as moved as I am about these traps and want to reach out to the WSP administrator directly, Sarah Neilson's contact info is below:

Sarah Neilson
Washington Square Park Administrator
Executive Director, Washington Square Park Conservancy
T 212.408.0297

NYC Parks
Arsenal West 
24 West 61st Street
New York, NY 10023