We heard an odd sound in the park the other day…it sounded like fast morse code clicking. Turned out, it was none other than a gorgeous European Starling. Who knew they make over 10 different calls and can mimic other birds’ songs/calls…including the Red-tailed Hawk Keer?
It’s been harder and harder to locate Christo and Dora’s young lately. While it’s common at this time of year for young hawks to start exploring on their own, we keep looking for them to see how they’re doing.
So, in addition to hitting the streets of the East Village and scanning the area like the NSA going through AT&T’s data, we’ve been keeping an eye on Christo and Dora. On a recent afternoon, we found them together on the dome of the Most Holy Redeemer Church on 3rd St. They look quite haggard as they are molting but they are still quite active even in the summer heat.
On this day, they were monitoring their territory and perhaps checking in on a baby, although it’s hard to tell. First, they “chatted” on the Church…
…then Dora took off, swooping East a bit and eventually circling West.
Christo watched her fly for a moment…
…then took off himself on the same East-then-West path.
They regrouped on top of the Village View tower where we’ve been seeing at least one of them almost every day lately.
One of them started hovering, looking directly down just in front of the building they were perched on.
It’s not clear what it was looking for, we were hoping a baby was nearby. We scanned the entire area to no avail. There was a report a few weeks ago of a baby stuck in the construction netting on the school nearby but it apparently freed itself, thankfully.
Christo continued to stand on different parts of the same tower to look around (this is behavior we haven’t seen before on Village View)…
After a bit, Dora took off and a few minutes later Christo took off uptown.
Half an hour later, Dora was back on the Church dome and Christo on Village View.
She noticed something and headed off quickly – in the direction of…take a guess!
She landed there gracefully, meeting up with Christo again.
We’re hoping that the babies are still doing well on their own and that they’re avoiding the tragedies we’ve seen in Central Park as of late. We’d like to see them to confirm they’re ok, but for now we’ll just have to hope. After all…
“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
A Public Service Announcement from a conscientious Kestrel on an East Village water tower: It’s important to hydrate!
Excited to be mentioned by the best local museum! A must-see in NYC.
One of the best things about New York City is that every place you step has a rich and storied history. The East Village is rife with such tales and the New York City Marble Cemetery, where one of the young hawks recently spent an afternoon frolicking around, is no different.
At its heyday in the 1830s, the cemetery was a fashionable place to be buried. Underground marble vaults were thought to prevent the spread of yellow fever that had plagued the city since the 1790s. President James Monroe was buried there in 1831 (and later moved) and there is even a prominent shipping merchant buried there…his name is, we kid you not, Preserved Fish.
According to Ephemeral New York, in the 1890s, Jacob Riis wanted to turn a nearby marble cemetery (the New York Marble Cemetery, which was started by the same people) into a playground for street kids who had no other place to play. It didn’t happen quite how he intended, but a young hawk certainly had some fun there last week…
The young hawks are now 3 months old and they are learning to hunt. Their parents are still making sure they are well fed in the meantime. The cemetery is a perfect place for the hawk to practice: abundant squirrels and pigeons to go after and no people to get in the way!
And this hawk was all over the place! It was very inquisitive. Here it jumped on a bench…
And examined some greenery…
Here it is peeking behind a gravestone at a hidden squirrel…
“I’ll get you!!”
“Where’d you go?”
Later, it had a face off in a tree with a brazen squirrel…
Then the hawk lunged at it…
…but it was just posturing. Maybe practicing its menacing looks.
It spotted something on the ground…
…a squirrel out in the open…
…it dove after it!
…to no avail.
At one point, the hawk was on a fire escape at the back of the cemetery for a while and some of the animals became braver, coming closer to us to see if we were offering any food (we weren’t)…
Later the hawk was exploring the ivy-covered wall on the western edge of the cemetery…
…and a squirrel was on the corner of the fence in a conundrum: it was exposed with a peanut in its mouth.
So its options were to drop the nut and make a run for it or stay still and hope it wasn’t found out. It took option B and quietly cried in fear – but thankfully it wasn’t discovered as its cries were muted by the peanut (the same mechanics as a trumpet mute!).
While the hawk flew around a lot, even above the fence once, surprising the humans on the sidewalk nearby…
…the funniest moments were when the hawk was stalking prey on the ground. Here, the hawk sees something in the shrub…
After hours of exploration, the hawk flew up out of the cemetery and over 1st Avenue…
…circling higher and higher and eventually out of view into the summer sunset.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you cannot change.
– Lynyrd Skynyrd
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)
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.
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…
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…
…then flew right back out!
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!
It seemed quite comfortable in the tree, conducting its own detective work on a tiny leaf.
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!
It was quietly perched in a tree…investigating the intricacies of a branch.
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.
It cried and cried nonstop, attracting a small group of human observers. It moved in the tree a bit.
Mom was on the church with food and Dad arrived and started calling, perhaps hoping to lure the young hawk closer with some food.
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.
The young hawk argued and argued…
…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)