Saturday, May 06, 2006

Little, one of the eyasses of Palemale Jr. and Charlotte's second clutch, shortly after fledging ,
July, 2005

Yes, Red-tailed Hawks do lay second clutches of eggs and they can be successful. But experts say they do so only if there are no longer eggs from the previous clutch in the nest.
In the last few days both courtship and egg tending behaviors have been displayed by the Trump Parc hawks.

(See photo for an example of of a midwestern Red-tail tree nest. Unless disturbed, these Red-tailed Hawk pairs use the same nest with seasonal additons, year after year. D.B.)

Inwood Park RT Nest Update from Urban Hawk Observer Mitch Nusbaum

5/05 Friday,

Still one Hawklet at Tuliptree. The entire time there, the mom stood up in the bowl. The nest is an eye level view East of the observation point.

For the time I was there, 1:30-3:30pm, the mom stood up. I got a solid eyeball of the Hawklet at 2:58p, he poked his head up like a jack-in-the-box. 3:05p mom feeding bill-bill.

With each passing day foliage is filling out making sighting more difficult. This warm day brought many foraging warblers, sometimes in the foreground where the baby was. Still just 1 hawklet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

View of the nest from Little Hill

The Trump Parc, the gold and peach building on Central Park South, just west of Fifth Avenue, hosts the nest of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte on its west face. Go down from the gold crown on the top, further down past the peach section with it's row of corbels and at the top of the yellow see the second row of corbels. The nest is located on the third corbel from the left.

Little Hill, one of the few places in Central Park where the nest may be viewed, particularly at this time of year with the trees in full leaf, is a knob of rock located just inside the southern wall of the park and across the street from The Hampshire House and The Essex House on Central Park South.

Field Notes 04 May 2006

Sunset- 7:56PM
Temperature- 79 F.
Wind 5-10MPH
Humidity- 27%
Moon-1st quarter

All times PM unless otherwise noted.

Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.

4:30 Columbus Circle, the pigeons are agitated. They bank and wheel but I don't see any hawks.

4:34 Still a distance away on Central Park South, I see Charlotte and Jr. circle over The Hampshire House, one RT dives between the Trump Parc and The Hampshire House. The other flies up, there is a member of the genus Falco in the mix, sharp wings and tail, fluid wingbeats, it follows the rising RT.

4:36 Standing on the sidewalk in front of Little Hill, both RTs back in view, one swoops again, wings folded into the same area, between Trump and H.H. Falcon appears. RT above it. Falcon to NE into Central Park. RT follows. Several pigeons sit watching the drama on the railing of Art's roof. Jr.'s pale head flashes in the sun flying S over trees, Charlotte comes from direction of nest.

4:42 Charlotte and Junior begin to circle in front of Trump. One clockwise the other counter clockwise, nearly meeting with each circle. Courtship dance, they continue circling, over CPS, over the Artist's Gate of Central Park, then the trees. One RT folds wings to body, swoops over nest, pulls up.

4:44 Both RTs back to near meeting circles

4:45 One RT lands on metal rod protruding from Hampshire House chimney , NW corner, just below the molding. Charlotte?

4:47 Other RT above chimney flies toward Trump. I can't see and need to get inside the park and to Little Hill, get the scope set up. I run toward the Artist's gate. No RTs apparent from that angle. I turn the corner and start W. Lawn east of Little Hill is fenced off. Both ends of the sidewalk that pass Little Hill are gated off but Little Hill has a large group of people having a picnic on top of it. How did they get there? I can't see the hawks. I can't see anything but trees. I finally find a 20 foot gap in the fence adjacent to the jogging path.

5:05 Junior folds wings dives towards Central Park. Charlotte circles the nest then goes behind The HH then The Essex, continues W.

5:10 Jr. buzzes the nest. Jr. swoops over nest and circles, then continues with several more swoops over nest, goes N to S disappears behind HH. Reappears, circles HH, reappears again, looks to be landing on nest, veers off to the the S. Jr appears circling with talons down.

5:16 Jr. is back swooping over the nest repeatedly, then HH.

5:19 Both Red-tails in near meeting circles, over nest, over street, over Little Hill, then Jr. to HH Chimney rod, alert, preens mid-back, alert to Gapstow Bridge area.

5:22 Jr. is off and up, folds wings, swoops over top of Trump, then to 58th, Charlotte follows.

5:26 Jr. to front edge of nest, facing S, right wing out, "mantles" edge of nest. Wind lifts wing, up, down, alert, facing out, then looks at nest bowl, wing gets higher, higher, focusing on bowl of nest, wing down but still spread, looks out.

5:30 Jr. looks into bowl, walks center, half sits, fluffs, tail to HH, head to wall, head still completely visible. Keeps looking over right shoulder, settles, wing tips and tail tip visible.

5:32 The Cooper Union student picnic is over and they've disappeared as has Jr.

5:45 Art's railing is bare. Aha, two pigeons copulate on top HH railing. House Sparrows attempt to crunch and eat the egg shells left by the students. Calcium supplement? Chipping Sparrow appears on the lawn a few feet away, knoshing on grass that's gone to seed.

6:00 Flock of Starlings begins it's through foraging march across the lawn. Jr. still on the nest. Charlotte?

6:25 The same.

Time to check on Ben Cacace and the GM Peregrines.
(I'm told I've been remiss in not introducing Ben a bit better. So here goes. Not only has Ben watched the peregrines for 10 years, he's one of the original 5th Ave. Hawkwatchers, one of the most respected observers in Central Park, an utter computer whiz, and lest we forget, a great guy who is generous with his hard won knowledge of raptors, his expertise in myriad other areas, and with his photographs. Besides he ALWAYS has the absolute correct time.)

6:50 The female Peregrine, Mrs. P. is perched on the GM building, three windows east of the NW corner...GM NW 3, posterior to viewers.

6:55 She preens.

6:56 She stretches wings, preens back, toes curled around railing.

7:03 Preens left wing. (The edges of the first few GM windows from the W corner, do a little "Stonehenge" effect each evening. Lighting and darkening with the angle of the sun.) The light begins to touch GM NW 3.

7:05 Mrs. P is very still, looking down.

7:38 Mrs P does a full body stretch, first on one leg and then the other. She's up flies east and then lands GM NW 5. (nest switch area) She faces in, listening, looking. She jumps down from railing out of sight. Mr's P's head appears between far left railing upright in 5, and the E wall of 5. He drops out of sight. He flies to GM NE 5 , facing wall.

7:43 Turned out, he defecates.

7:44 Mr. P one foot up.

7:48 He preens.

8:10 Still there, foot up.

8:18 Still there.

8:24 Gone!

8:25 Civil Twilight. Ben spots him. Mr. P is perched on the top edge of furthest E top window on the north face of Nine West.

8:30 Difficult to see but there.

8:37 Still there.


(I'm also remiss in not noting the addresses of the buildings mentioned. They're coming.)


The charismatic Raccoon who lives just north of the Model Boat Pond first charmed the Hawk Watchers while they waited for Pale Male and Lola. She's now begun to draw crowds of passers-by everytime so much as her nose appears in the opening of her cavity.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Frayed harness?

Is it possible that the piece of red stuff coming through the breast feathers of The Point Screech Owl is a bit of frayed harness left over from the radiotelemetry backpacks that were placed on some of the Eastern Screech Owls before their release into Central Park?

The harnasses of course may have been of slightly different material and almost definitely of a different configuration. No leash or little silver hooks for easy in and out access, for instance. But interesting to consider none the less.

To take a look at strange tuft on the owl go to-

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


29 Apr 2006

After watching the Trump Parc nest, I decided to go find Ben Cacace in hopes of getting a look at his Peregrines.

I know they aren't really "his Peregrines", and he'd take me to task for saying it, scrupulous observer and fact finder that he is, but as he's been watching the Peregrines, whose territory includes the southeast corner of Central Park and the adjacent buildings for ten years, I do think of them that way.

I arrived late in the day, 5:55 PM and Ben had one of the Peregrines in his sights on the GM building. The first level down from the roof, the third railing going east from the northwest corner. Hereafter to be called GM NW 3. Though at the time her sex is not identified for the evening, Ben suspects it is the female and she is beautiful.

Sitting her perch, looking about with quick focus, black sideburns against a white neck, and preening each selected area with complete thoroughness. She is striking and I must say, much bigger than I expected.

The field guides say Peregrines are anywhere from 15 to 21inches in length and from 1 lb. 2 oz to over weight. With a spread of 3 1/4 to 3 3/4 feet. (A Red-tail's spread is considered to be around 4 feet.) She does look to be towards the top end of the range. Like most raptors, female Peregrines are bigger than the males. Ben explains that in this pair the difference in size is quite large, but unless one sees them perched together, it's tough to identify which is which when they are sitting. In flight he's got who's who down by a temporary difference in their primaries.

Ben tells me that over all the years he's watched, he's never been sure exactly where the Peregrines have nested. But this year he may have it nearly pinned down. The falcons seem to be doing some kind of nest switch out of sight, that occurs using GM NW 5 and GM NW 6.

6:30PM, Mrs. Peregrine continues to sit the railing, preening in her measured way. Still alert, dark eyes flashing, she looks straight up like a shot. As do we, but we don't have her eyesight so see nothing. Ben explains that it's quite unusual for the falcons to stay in one place for so long. I realize I'm getting a treat. Suddenly she triangulates, but it doesn't look at all like what happens when the Red-tails triangulate.

Triangulation is a series of quick moves of the head and hence the eyes which give birds a more precise take on how far away the focused upon object is. When an RT triangulates it's similar to a series of small head cocks. When a Peregrine triangulates it's more of a front to back move of the head and neck. Fascinating.

It's 6:43 and she's still there. It's quite a show. Ben says,"Very unusual." She stretches, scratches her head, rouses her feathers. Ben asks, "Do you see that little white spot on her head?" Hmmm, I do. Just what is that?

Then Ben does something I didn't think to do. The backdrop of the railing is a series of uniformly sized horizontal slats. Vents for air conditioners perhaps? He counts the slats behind Mrs. P. The falcon is just shy of 5 slats tall. Now if the other Peregrine would just perch in the same spot and we were in the same place, we would know which sitting falcon it was in the future.

6:52, Mrs. Peregrine is off her railing. I miss where she goes and Ben points me to the NE corner of the roof of the GM building. There she is, sitting in the sun. She preens. Ben says with some excitement, "Did you catch sight of a band?" I look hard. I see something. It could be a band but then again it could just be some light feathers on her ankle. We both stare fixedly through the scopes. She goes to preen her foot. She lifts it. There is a flash--sun on silver. She scratches. The band is clearly defined on her leg, though at this distance we won't be reading the numbers anytime soon. "Absolutely Ben, she has a band."

He carefully takes out his notebook and writes. He closes it with a smile and says, "Thank you for the confirmation."

AT 7:03, she's off the roof and takes to the sky in amazing flight, up, down, and around the corner of the park. Used to the soaring and measured circles of the Red-tails, I can't keep up with her in my binoculars. It doesn't matter, the naked eye is enough. Ben checks the feathers. Indeed it is the female of the pair.

After taking several other positions around the roof, at 7:38 Mrs. Peregrine flies down and perches on the left side of the railing of GM NW 5. Alright! This is one of the places involved with the mysterious and possible nest switching. Interestingly the "slats" behind this railing are not like the slats behind all the other railings. These are diagonal and there looks to be larger spaces between them. She is facing in towards the building and posed as if listening. And it certainly appears like she is looking at something fixedly as well. We don't dare take our eyes off her. Staring hard and trying not to get distracted at 7:42, I suddenly notice that her toes aren't curling around the railing to hold on. How odd. Her front toes are just sticking straight out. Why? How does she stay on the perch like that?

7:45 Mrs. Peregrine drops off the railing on the building side and disappears. Going in? Mr. Peregrine appears at the bottom of the area in between the uprights of the railing she'd been sitting on, and drops off the ledge into the air, out of the scopes line of sight. Wow, that was quick. Very efficient.

Soon Mr. P. is back on the rail of GM NW 5. Ben says, that he's never discovered where they roost. The off-nest bird usually flies to parts unknown around now. We wait for him to leave..

Mr. Peregrine begins to preen and he is quick. Quick on each spot, quick to move spots. Quick, quick, quick. His head is fast, his beak is fast. He preens at nearly warbler speed. Very different form the measured preening pace of his mate. A possible behavioral trait for differentiating the birds? Something to look at in the future for sure.

8:12, the Robins are singing their goodnight songs. It is well past official sunset and we're nearly at the civil one. The falcon has turned his back. Where is his head? Is he preening his front? It really is getting dark. Details can't be made out but he is still there.

8:20PM. No movement. He still looks like he has no head. He has to have tucked in for the night, by now. Hasn't he? We wait. He's become the faintest of smudges on the railing near the entrance. The entrance to what behavior tells us must be the nest.

The city lights are on. The sky is dark. Nothing flies in this dimness but bats and the mallards going to graze on The Great Lawn. The Peregrine is not leaving. In fact I'm sure now that he's been asleep for sometime. The band, the nest, and a Peregrine's night roost, a three discovery day. Amazing.

It's 8:28 with Peregrines in place, we leave for home.


Central Park Red-tail Notes

Field Notes 24 April 2006

Sunset: 7:42
Temperature: 65F
Intermittent rain
Wind: Gusting to 12MPH

All times PM unless otherwise noted.

Fifth Ave. Nest

3:40 Pale Male to nest left, Lola off. Pale Male turns, moves twigs, scratches, sits.

4:20 Lola discovered on the Oreo Antenna, she leans over into copulation position momentarily. Pale Male remains on th nest out of sight.

Trump Parc Nest

5:20 Jr. perched on the west upper prong of the X in the ESSEX sign. No sight of Charlotte on the nest.

5:45 My cell phone rings, it's Stella over at The Hawk Bench, she says that Lola is still on the Oreo Antenna, and just leaned over into copulation position again.

6:06 Many clouds in the sky and The Central Park Path Lights come on. Still no sight of Charlotte yet.

6:09 A new person, Jerry, climbs the hill to ask what I'm looking at. Turns out he's a birder and is very excited about the hawks nest.

6:17 A young healthy raccoon is at the base of a tree down Little Hill and near the path. He climbs up the tree with something in his mouth. Gets to the first large branch and eats it. He's started drawing a crowd of people photographing him with their cell phones. He continues to climb the tree in a completely unhurried fashion.

6:30 Jean D. arrives and says that Jr. has just left the ESSEX sign and gone into the park.

6:39 Jr. sighted above treeline circling, to the west, circling slowing gaining altitude.

6:40 Jr. flies over little hill with prey (?). Lands on the nest, prey in talons. It's a large squirrel. Charlotte finally appears beaks the squirrel, then grabs it in her beak and flies west with it. (She often flies off nest with prey in beak as opposed to 5th Ave hawks habit of flying off with prey in talons.) Jr. heads for the bowl, moves a twig, settles in.

6:58 Charlotte comes from the west, flying east on Central Park South, lands on the southeast corner of east Hampshire House Chimney, tail to north. Then is up and perches on first E in Essex House Sign.

7:01 Charlotte disappears behind Essex House.

7:15 Exit. Clouds extremely threatening. Charlotte is now perched on the same spot Jr. was previously. The upper west corner of the X in the ESSEX sign.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

So many turtles, so little time.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

First Eyass of the Season in Manhattan.

Mitch Nusbaum sights a very young Red-tail in the Inwood nest, his report below.

Sunday 4/30 At 5:06p positive ID of a single hawklet spotted in Inwood Hill's Clove, 60 ft. near the top ofa Tuliptree. 1 Hawklet moving about as the adult stood in the nest. From 6:00-15 I observed the one chick being fed bill to bill; a flurry of feathers means a Pigeon. 6:27 Mom is now down as if possibly incubating another egg. If this happened here it can also happen at 105 CPS.