Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Headless Squirrel

Only the severest case of cabin fever could drive me out in this weather. But sure enough, there I was, in St. Nicholas Park, scanning the bleak terrain for any signs of life. It was so cold, even the trash couldnt blow around, so it sat there, mutely fluttering. It was around that point that a hawk flew down to a tree stump just up ahead of me. I could tell right away it was the large juvenile I'd photographed all Winter. Steadily, I drew closer and tried to stop the camera from shaking as a I shivered violently. (note to self, carry tripod on really cold days)

It rose up for a kill shot!

It was at this point that I realized the hawk hadnt actually killed that squirrel, but rather discovered it there, frozen stiff. I surmise an adult rth may have killed it and left it for the youngster although what happened next surprised me more. It seems that in the act of re-killing this squirrel it had landed on top of it and now both were slipping off the tree!

And so that leads to The Mystery of the Headless Squirrel: Who killed this squirrel and why? I later climbed the tree and found the main incisors of the rodent and some more bone and blood. The hawk that made this kill carefully decapitated the squirrel and left it in a nook of a tree, where this youngster found it. As the squirrel jerky lay there, I fully expected the juvy to jump down and reclaim its quarry, but in fact it just hopped over to another branch and fluffed out its down. From the pigeon feather on its beak, it seems likely that it had recently fed. It looks as if, despite the cold, this is one well taken care of hawk.

So I left the hawk and the headless squirrel to each other and headed off towards home, herbal tea and pix of squirrel-icide.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Great Hill

I had great luck on the Great Hill today. By following some agitated crow sounds, I found an adult redtailed hawk skulking in a tree. After some time, it silently lit out, crows flowing around it like soda pop.

It landed in a tree on the farside of the Hill. As I approached it, it noticed its hackles began to raise up and I looked to see where it was looking,

just in time to see this large, dark adult fly in!

I couldnt tell if they are the mated pair I saw on top of Douglass Houses on Amsterdam Ave. But it seems likely. After some time, the late arriving hawk flew off directly over me and out over the Hill.

As she did so, the remaining hawk made an almost crowing sound that I've never heard before. Watching it, I saw its hackles go up again, but coming in low from the north were 2 peregrine falcons! I stood amazed as they skimmed above the tree line, threatening the hawks. As they broke over the Hill I managed to get a pic of one of them streaking over the woods!

No doubt the Riverside family is letting their neighbors know who's in charge!
The peregrines flew off, as eventually the first hawk did, the falcons to the North, the hawks towards the Loch. Walking home, I also saw a Cooper's Hawk above Morningside and this guy on again on my roof!

5th Annual Harlem Hawk Walk

What's a Harlem hawk and where do they live? Come find well as learn some Harlem lore and survival tips. Right now Im looking at the weekend of 2/14. So if there's but a shred of human curiosity within you, summon it forth for our Hawk Walk and email me at yojimbotatgmaildotcom!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dywer Kestrel

I was finally able to catch the resident male kestrel on my building today. He showed up in perfect light and eyed the starlings in Hancock Park below. I am thankful for his visit and the beautiful pictures I was granted!

What a gorgeous bird!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Redtailed Hawk on Harlem Church

Cold and windy as it may be, the hawks are using the inclement weather to full advantage. Here a large adult female lays in wait above Lenox Ave. Google Earth puts it at 2/5 of a mile.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Morningside Redtailed Hawks

Found a juvy and adult RTH hunting the northern parts of Morningside Park. Here's some of the action as they hunted squirrels.