Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Washington Square Pair Are Building a Nest

Photo by Francois Portmann- http://www.fotoportmann.com/birdblog/
The 1 Fifth Avenue Tiercel from last season. Possibly one of the pair currently building a nest on a window ledge of a building off Washington Square Park.

Myisha Priest who hosted the Wild NYC Symposium at the Galatin School at New York University sent me an email with the news that the Washington Square Red-tailed Hawk pair are working on a building nest adjacent to Washington Square Park.

I asked professional photographer and intrepid hawkwatcher Francois Portmann to nip over and take a look. This is what he had to say--

I went for a quick visit to Washington Square Park

If this pair tries nesting there [on a window ledge D.B.], my bet is: the nest may get blown off in high winds. These window sills have no anchor options. It’s the same kind of set up as last year on One 5th ave!
Time for the
Blakeman "Nest Nooks"!!

The Red-tail pair, possibly the same birds who are building the above nest, who last season may have nested on One Fifth Avenue, had no anchors for their nest and it disintegrated. They did not succeed.

That was also part of the problem for Charlotte and Pale Male Jr. for most of the years they nested on the corbel of the Trump Parc or when they attempted to nest on the bare top of air conditioners. They just could not keep their nesting materials from blowing away.

Some years ago, Red-tail specialist John Blakeman designed structures to help urban Red-tails with this problem. One model could be attached to a tree, and the other could be attached to a building.

Since then we've watched more urban nests that have had early fledges in which fledglings who had no branching opportunities to get themselves off the ground once they left the nest early, i.e. they were not flighted enough to gain elevation for flight once grounded, were found standing on the sidewalk or had fallen off nests without enough or adequate places for them to do their pre-flight exercises, they came off early, and they were injured from hitting the sidewalk or ground.

We realized that the original Nest Nook for buildings might not have enough space for hopping and flapping or enough opportunities for branching practice so John Blakeman has gone back to the drawing board.

He is working on a new improved design for the Nest Nook which includes more space for just these things. We're hoping he'll have it done very soon particularly as it looks like Manhattan has Red-tails, who are trying to nest but their options for a nest site are not the best.

Of course finding someone willing to host a trial for the Nest Nook could well be easier said than done.

Here is the link for the previous design of the Nest Nook.

As soon as Mr. Blakeman finishes the new improved design for the New Improved Nest Nook I'll post that as well.

Therefore if you, or any one you know might be in a position to help host a Nest Nook trial for a Red-tail pair please get in touch. Currently Washington Square's pair could possibly use one and/or if we put one up adjacent to Tompkins Square Park, Valkyrie/Dominatrix might be able to attract a mate and they could nest in her current territory.

Donegal Browne

P.S. As breeding season is hard upon us, perhaps the Tree Nest Nook could be installed in Washington Square Park itself as a secondary option for the birds to use if the ledge nest fails and they decide to double clutch. Or it's possible that the old stand- by option from the original 927 Fifth Avenue nest might work for the Washington Square pair's window ledge if it could be installed soon enough. Originally on 927, and it worked wonderfully for many years, was a number of rows of anti-pigeon spikes anchored to a piece of wood which was in turn anchored to the facade. In the Washington Square Park site the anti-pigeon spikes anchored to wood could be anchored to the window ledge and the twigs the hawks have already brought placed back on the contraption for them to re-work to their satisfaction. This would have to be placed before eggs were laid. Or leave well enough alone and see if the site doesn't work before we make any human "improvements" beyond that we'd need to check to make sure that the hawks weren't working on a principle site elsewhere and the window ledge is only an alternate site.

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