Nearly all the hawkwatchers have gone home. wending their way on buses, subways, and even cabs for those who are running late for a friday dinner, to apartments all over the city.
Octavia will have finished helping the remaining eyass on the nest with her dinner. Dozing, the eyass slumps. Octavia will preen and compose herself for sleep. But her eyes will open every few minutes in the night and survey her surroundings.
The eyass may be restless sporadically in the night, new pin feathers poking her skin. If so Octavia will preen her until she rests quietly again. Then back to momentary sleeping and waking. Only half of Octavia's brain will sleep at a time, the other will be aware and ready.
The Oriole who has been going through the motions of attacking Fledge 2 will have gone to his own rest by now after checking in with his family.
The Central Park Raccoons will be coming out of their sleeping places to peruse any possible eatable goodies that have been left behind. Perhaps the prize of a forgotten bag of cotton candy still wrapped in plastic which will be laboriously pulled up a tree with the climb to privacy and enjoyed at leisure.
Pale Male will have chosen a spot to roost where he can see both fledglings in their trees and Octavia and the eyass on the nest. From the sounds of the fledglings locations he could well pick an old favorite, a tall London Plane with a branch directly above his head to protect him from Great Horned Owl attack in the night only a stones throw from the Hawk Bench.
He will not fall immediately asleep. He will carefully preen every feather just so. He must be ready for anything day or night.
The night breeze will come up. The moon will shine on the Model Boat Pond as it has for a hundred and more years. Perhaps there are one or two watchers who have decided to keep a vigil on the Hawk Bench, though I hear that that is very rare these days. In fact the Bench in daytime is often empty with no Rick to mark it's identity.
The lights of Fifth Avenue are there to the East, sifting through the trees, as is the commotion of the cabs and buses on Fifth Avenue. Close, but far away in the dark of Central Park. The small night creatures rustle in the flower beds and the little wind sighs in the leaves.
And perhaps the spirits of former watchers meet on the bench for yet another vigil through the night to keep Pale Male's vigil company. Just perhaps. So many who have come and gone...drifting into the night forever.
And still Pale Male remains.
With a last long look around him, he will settle himself into yet another sleep, protecting his family, ears aware, his eyes close. Ready to open and he'll fly out yet again at a moments need.
Good night Pale Male. Sleep well.
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