Elemen-tree, my dear Watson

Since the young hawks have fledged, we’ve seen them hanging out on rooftops, fire escapes, and other structures around the church, usually at dawn and dusk.  But there are days when the cross is empty and we don’t see any young hawk activity all day long…so a mystery presented itself: Where are they going? 

“How often have I said that when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes (The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle)

After we ruled out the possibility that they were summering in the Hamptons with Leonardo DiCaprio or flying by Pluto with New Horizons, we started to hunt for clues that might help us.

The first real clue came at dawn one morning when we saw one of the birds fly towards a grove of trees near the church. 

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The hawk didn’t emerge so we began a long, pain-staking camera pan of the trees nearby.  After almost giving up, like a 49er in the Truckee river, we struck gold! See if you can find the barred tail…

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So…we knew at least one hawk was perched in a tree. Then, later that afternoon, the hawks were flying/crying around hoping for a feeding. One of them flew right into the trees…

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…then flew right back out!

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Aha! So we now we knew we should check that area more thoroughly. No luck for the first hour or so, until we happened upon the second fledgling perched in a low branch!

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It seemed quite comfortable in the tree, conducting its own detective work on a tiny leaf.

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A group of pigeons sat just under the tree totally unfazed…a hint that the young hawks still aren’t hunting yet.  The fledgling took off soon after.  

We found nothing the next day.  And we searched a lot.

‘Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!’ – Sherlock Holmes (from The Adventure of the The Abbey Grange)

Not to be deterred, we continued the search the next day.  And, this time, the good old-fashioned footwork paid off.  We spotted another fledgling!

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It was quietly perched in a tree…investigating the intricacies of a branch. 

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The young hawk sat there for at least an hour, totally unnoticed by humans and animals alike. 

And finally, just yesterday morning in a different area on 3rd Street, we could hear the loud cries of a hungry young hawk. Sure enough, there we found one. 

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It cried and cried nonstop, attracting a small group of human observers. It moved in the tree a bit.

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Mom was on the church with food and Dad arrived and started calling, perhaps hoping to lure the young hawk closer with some food.

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The fledgling flew to a fire escape closer to the church and began a back and forth calling session with Christo that lasted a good 30 minutes.

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The young hawk argued and argued…

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…but Dad won out in the end. The young hawk flew to a nearby rooftop to await a feeding.  

And so the search continues…but we are reasonably sure that if the hawks don’t make it to Tompkins Square Park, they’ll start practice-hunting a bit closer to home.

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.” – Sherlock Holmes (The Red Circle by Arthur Conan Doyle)

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