Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fifth Avenue Red-tail Fledgling Adventures in Central Park

 Stalwart hawkwatcher Jeff Johnson was again out on Thursday (below) and also Friday (coming soon) tracking down Pale Male and company.  Photographs and the commentary in italics are Mr. Johnson's.

 Pale Male was on his 927 Nest as I approached the Park.

 From the 5th Avenue wall along the Park I could see two fledges perched in one of their favorite trees. North end of the Model Sailboat Pond invisible in the background to give some location perspective.

The north end of the Model Boat Pond is the section that holds the Alice in Wonderland Statue with the Oreo Building and Stovepipe as a back drop.

If you are attempting to follow the action with the aid of a Central Park map, what we call the Model Boat Pond will be labeled as The Conservatory Water.  The water is there but they neglected to actually build The Conservatory.

After entering the Park I spent a half hour looking for Pale Male or Zena without success, so I returned to the Sailboat Pond area and found a fledge high in a tree (just right of center in this frame).

She's quite tiny in this shot but if you look carefully you will see a tiny pale beige oval with a belly band slightly behind a branch that veers up and right.  This is a good exercise to train your eye for the next time you're out fledgling hunting.

This fledge is shown a little closer in the same spot here.

 I searched again up to 79th Street where Pale Male was soaring, but he decided to stay too far away for my lens. On the way back to the Kerbs Cafe area there was a fledge now dining on a rat! 

The Cafe is across the water from the Hawkbench and slightly to the north.  On both sides and behind it is a non-pathed area of trees, understory, mulch and some plantings.  Few people tromp around in the plantings there,  so it is a safer place for the fledglings to go about their business than more heavily traveled areas.

Two fledges were developing their hunting skills in some low brush behind the Cafe.

Note the pedestrians and the west edge of the Model Boat Pond in the background.  This is the opposite edge of the water across from the hawkbench.

And you can bet 99% of the people walking by have no idea the fledglings are even there. 

If you were standing at the camera's POV, your back would be roughly over Central Park's stone wall perimeter, directly across the street from the 927 Fifth Avenue  nest.
 One fledge was particularly taken with attacking an orange capped plastic bottle.

One of the most endearing and I have to say hilarious behaviors of fledgling Red-tails, as some of you know,  is their practice "killing" of various objects which include but are not limited to plastic bottles, rocks, chunks of wood, thick twigs, and in one case I know of, a rather large athletic shoe.  

The Fledgling leaps on the object with both feet, "the strike", then bangs it soundly and repeatedly on the ground with both feet while hop flapping.  I assume that's "the kill" though adult Red-tails don't bang their prey, they neatly puncture it with their talons to kill it. 

I surmise the innate urge to whack prey on a hard surface gets the job done initially until they figure out that squeezing with their talons is really what it is all about.

Mr. Johnson's Friday adventures with the Fifth Avenue Hawks are coming very soon!

Happy Hawking--
Donegal Browne

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