Saturday, January 16, 2010

Red-tail Update: Morningside Park Hawks-Isolde and Norman Plus Can Anyone Identify the Red-tail at the NYBG?

Photo by Nicola Cetorelli
Spurred on by Nara and Nicola, the hawkwatchers with the fire escape on Morningside Drive, the information about the hawks frequenting the Morningside Park/Cathedral territory, has begun rolling in!

(My apologies on the lag in posting. My computer lost its mind for a couple of days. Many thanks to computer whiz Mark Brown for his very skilled help in bringing it back to sanity.)

ISOLDE AND NORMAN! (An anterior view is coming up for those who'd like to check that angle for their personal field marks of Isolde.)
Photo by Nicoli Cetorelli

From Nara , January 13th--
When we got home tonight at 6:15, one of the hawks was back. In fact, the doorman and handyman were outside looking up at it. Actually the handyman says he's seen the hawk(s) regularly since the fall, usually at dusk, sometimes hunting. So much for our powers of observation!

Photo by Nicoli Cetorelli
Who knows how long they've been coming here. I'm certain we would have seen them if they were in front of the window (they're hard to miss...) but tonight's roosting spot is right up against the building, on the railing, rather than on the floor of the fire escape, so you can't really see him/her from inside (there must be radiant heat from the brick building).

Photo by Nicoli Cetorelli
After a while we looked out and the mate was on the far side of the fire escape. Both of them are there now.

And now, without further ado...the photos/films!:

As you will see, my husband is not quitting his day-job anytime soon to become a. a photographer or b. a cinematographer. But they are so close it's hard not to see them well. Incidentally, these were taken with a zoom so he wasn't quite in their faces as much as it seems. I imagine, however, that it isn't a great idea to take lots more photos as it could disturb them (that said, these were all taken Sunday and they obviously weren't too fazed as they've been back at least two nights since then.)


As several people were interested in scrutinizing an anterior shot, I lightened the above photograph slightly so though not as accurate as to time of day, the details are a little easier to see on a monitor. My apologies to the photographer.

In this photo you can see Isolde's trademark almond shaped "sad eyes" and part of her belly band.

Also local neighborhood hawkwatcher Winkie, who's reports many will remember from past seasons, has a wonderfully detailed update--

Hi Donna,

Greetings from Winkie. It has been a long time without much to report. Nara's sighting is welcome news, but not a total surprise to me as the last few weeks in particular activity has picked up. Let us all hope that this is good news for this year's cathedral pair's nesting.

I have seen Isolde several times lately in her early seasonal, territorial rounds. This season she is keeping much of the same routine that she had with Tristan. This area seems to be much the same: South to Central Park, West to Columbia, East seems to go vastly beyond the old Morningside park's edge and North to 125th Street. Because I have little time outside at this time of year, I have not seen Norman. But from what my husband tells me I think Norman is about. Although I have faith in sightings seen by my husband; alas, he cannot tell one hawk from another.

Shortly before Christmas, I started seeing Isolde around the edges of the park (Morningside, of course) and flying around the south end of Columbia's campus. Over the holiday, I saw from my apartment windows a territory war over the campus. It was early mid day on December 26, there was a hawk flying low over the buildings. Out of the direction of Riverside Church came a peregrine. There was no contact, but many fierce threats and lots of aerial acrobatics. The hawk took it's time to find the wind currents, totally not bothered by the peregrine. The hawk circling low and slow, more circling until the peregrine backed off. By the time the raptors were dots, the peregrine was still following the hawk, just to make sure the lesson was learned. At the time I guessed this was Isolde (not able to get a positive), but maybe it was Norman or a new juvie in the neighborhood. James [ ] does report one in the MS park and Rob [ D.B.]
sites one in the north end of Central Park.

Interestingly, I have not seen as much peregrine activity around Amsterdam and MS park as I did last year. Maybe this year our cathedral pair are more strongly established than last year.

Work on the cathedral and on the new apartment high rise is finished and so are the additions to the park.

The bad news is that the city is supposedly installing new lighting around the perimeter of the park and throughout the Morningside Heights neighborhood. Ever more work to make the area more inviting to people and less to hawks.

Over the holidays and last couple of weeks my husband has had many hawk sightings. The hawk appears to be doing the usual cathedral activities, but my husband has only ever reported one hawk - not two.

Last Saturday, we saw Isolde soon before roosting. This is my positive on her: it was not Norman. She was in the north end of the park on one of her favorite trees. As in the years past, she likes this territory during the cold months.

Now for the sighting from Nara, the cathedral hawks have used the fire escapes along Morningside Drive previously.

First, Isolde and Tristan and then Norman and Isolde have hunted and rested there. Usually, Tristan would stay south of 116th Street, only meeting Isolde in the north end at dusk. Then they would fly south together, finding other roosts.

Without Tristan, Isolde has liked to roost in the the same trees at the north end of the park. Most of the time Norman would fly though and on to another roost. Norman has in the past been more favorable to spending time in the north end of the park than Tristan was. He has frequently gone to roost on the fire escapes. Sometimes he moves on to wherever Norman goes. He has always lived up to his name of Stormin' Norman, but he does seem to prefer the northern range of his territory.

There is still the boundary divide of territory somewhere around 125th Street. Over the first of the new year, my husband and I took several walks in and around St. Nick's park. It is more like Morningside used to be. There are two hawks in this territory, possibly the same CCNY pair as before, definitely not Isolde and Norman.

I don't know of anyone who had followed this pair closely. Do you have any information about their nesting last season? We saw no activity on the CCNY campus building that had been previously used.

(Winkie I don't have any further information on the CCNY pair, but I'm hoping your question will spur whoever might have some to send it our way. D.B.)

Hopefully, this will be a good year for our NYC red tail hawks. I am, of course, rooting for our locals - the cathedral and the Riverside pairs. It would be wonderful for Lola and Pale Male to have success this year. In Manhattan, however, there is still opportunity for some of the young red tails to find success.


Chief hawkwatcher 0f Charlotte and Pale Male Jr., Brett Odom, reports he has a friend, also with a fire escape/balcony uptown in which hawks, likely Isolde and Norman, have been frequenting. He's asked his friend for further information and it should be coming our way soon.

Photo by Pat Gonzalez

Pat Gonzalez, who contributes lovely wildlife photos from the New York Botanic Gardens among other places, has a question---


Attached is a cropped image of the red-tail that flew over the twin-lakes at the NYBG earlier today, January 13, 2009.

Any ideas as to who our friend is?


Last season bonded Red-tailed Hawks, Rose and Hawkeye (since died, 7/30/09, likely of secondary rat poisoning) formally of Fordham, nested in the NYBG. There is interest regarding Rose and the likelihood of who her new mate might be plus where she and said new consort might nest.
Does anyone have any news?

Donegal Browne


Sally said...

Wow that NYBG RT has striking markings, aught to be easy to identify with those WHITE eyebrows, chin and DARK heavy belly marks. Cool...I will be anxious to read what the ID is. Thanks for the updates.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Sally,

This hawk is particularly specific isn't it? I thought the same. Amazing white eyebrows! Pat has sent another of the mystery hawk in flight and the markings stand up well even in flight.