Saturday, December 06, 2008

Harlem Hawk Walk

After many weather delays, and some sloth, I finally managed to get the lead out for my annual Hawk Walk tour of Harlem raptors. The morning was crisp, and Robert and I were rewarded with the Cathedral pair, making a pass on the Dwyer, then landing across the street!

The male,

who then flew out,

he and the female then and joined up over Morningside.

After they both flew off south, I noticed a peregrine on top of Riverside Church. I watched through my spotting scope as it dove off the antenna and quickly returned with a pigeon. It then de-feathered the bird, high above Columbia! So far we were off to a great start. We then wended over to the Hudson and walked North to Riverbank State Park. In the past few weeks I had seen both peregrines perched over the Manhattan Waste Transfer Station,

but they werent there today.
As we came to 145th, I noticed a huge flock of about 200 starlings rise from the trees. Pigeons were also darting about. Amongst the flock was a large juvenile Cooper's Hawk, trying to snag breakfast! It dove down towards us and broke at a pigeon under the walkway. We ran to the Park and saw it perched above, but were unable to immediately locate it. While scanning the rooftops for it, I noticed an adult male kestrel diving on something. Soon a large juvenile redtailed hawk emerged!

After loosing the redtaill, the Cooper's broke over the trees and just missed a pigeon about 20 feet from me. I was able to finally get a pic as it was perched.

The underside,

Video of it hunting!

After it flew hither and yon for a few minutes it dove into the Park. We were not able to relocate it, but we did come across another adult Redtailed Hawk at about 152nd St., perched on another watertower.
Continuing North, there was this strange construction...which I originally thought was a hawk nest!

Looking under it, I found droppings, a few sticks, and a pierced pigeon egg, with the yolk sucked out. Very curious. Leaving the Park at 155th soon brought the answer. Listen for the distinctive squawk as Robert goes up the stair!

It was a pair of Monk Parakeets!

So cute as they huddled above the Henry Hudson!

The next bird encountered was yet another adult Redtailed Hawk at 157th St., across from Boricua College!

Finally, we scoured Highbridge Park for birds, and saw 1 adult at 181st St. and as we were packing up to leave, Robert spotted this juvenile with a freshly caught rat!

It allowed us to get quite close.

Upon further examination, it appears to be a very young redtail, with the orangey breast and tolerance of human presence, characteristic of Urban Hawks. Without being able to prove it, it still appears very likely that this is a fledgling from a second Highbridge nesting attempt this year. We found a nest structure in the original tree from years past. will be fascinating in Spring to test this hypothesis! Strangely (and believe me, Highbridge attracts strange), we also encountered these religous slogans tacked to various trees throughout the Park!

Final tally:
116th and Madison Ave--1 juvy RTH
123rd and St. Nicholas--2 adult RTH
123rd and Riverside--1 adult peregrine
145th and Riverside--1 juvy RTH, 1 juvy Cooper's Hawk, 1 adult male kestrel
152nd and Riverside--1 adult RTH
158th and Broadway--1 adult RTH
181st and Harlem River--1 adult RTH
Dykman St.--1 juvy RTH

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great photos. Should have come a bit farther north. What I thought was a peregrine took two swipes at me earlier this year as I walked a dog across the Broadway Bridge (above 218th St.) A check with the Park Rangers at Inwood Hill Park confirmed a nesting pair on the bridge. The young ventured into the surounding neighhborhoods of Marble Hill and Kingsbridge (Bronx). Very exciting.