It’s been a while since we posted anything significant about Christo and Dora and there’s a reason: we were waiting for them to settle down for the nesting season. And it’s now official, the East Village Red-tailed Hawks have had 3 different nest locations in 3 years. Red-tailed hawks usually nest in the same spot, reinforcing the nest each year, but they face more of a challenge in an urban environment.
Let’s start with some background on the 3 nests/locations. Here’s a map to get you oriented:
(No photo but it was a bigger air conditioner than Year 2)
Location: Southward-facing nest on a 7th floor air conditioner in the Christadora building (their namesake).
Pros: Lots of sun from the south. Proximity to park is great for hunting and decent for fledging.
Location: Eastward-facing nest on a 12th floor air conditioner in the Ageloff building.
Pros: Decent sun and some wind protection. Height provides safety. Proximity to the 3rd St. Church cross, the tallest in the neighborhood, where the parents can survey their territory while keeping an eye on the nest.
Cons: The nest was small and crowded. It was also a haphazard fledging location. And there were some overzealous people who leaned over the roof to take photos directly over the nest. They didn’t mean harm but most likely didn’t understand the danger this posed to the young hawks, who couldn’t fly yet. Despite this, the majority of residents here (especially those who had their air conditioner taken over by hawks) were amazing and kind. Thank you Ageloff residents!
Location: Tall gingko tree in Tompkins Square Park.
Pros: Ample food. Should be great for fledglings’ first flight and subsequent learning.
Cons: Nest is open on all sides so it is more prone to predation, destruction (we’ve heard that squirrels have dismantled nests in the park before), and the elements. And the selfish con is that they are harder for the humans to see!
So why have they moved so much?
After year 1, as we mentioned above, the hawks actually tried to return to the AC nest on Christadora but they were blocked by the building, which was about to start a large, 2-year construction project. Then the hawks scoped out a few new places and ended up on Ageloff. After year 2, although the Ageloff nest stayed in tact and the hawks had the option to nest there, in October they built a nest in the park. It’s common for Red-tailed hawks to store sticks and to build back up or decoy nests but it’s highly uncommon for them to create a new nest in the fall (bird experts we spoke with hadn’t witnessed this behavior before).
Then, just to keep things interesting, on Jan 24 of this year, they stopped in to their Year 2 nest for a short date. They shared a rat snack and tended to some sticks…
..but they haven’t been seen there since. Perhaps they were ensuring that this was a viable backup if the newer nest in the park didn’t work out.
Now, they seem to be brooding on at least one egg (maybe more) in the park. We caught up with them on Easter Sunday right when Christo came to tap in and share the incubation responsibilities.
Christo had left a rat in another tree for hard-working Dora. He landed on the nest and she happily flew over and chomped the rat down.
She even tried it on as a disguise…
She cleaned her beak off on the tree bark and looked around before flying to the nearby 8th St. church cross. This will probably be their hangout spot once the little ones need more space in the nest.
She then flew back to the nest and Christo emerged…
…he looked around for a moment…
…and took off to circle around the park and eventually out of sight.
Only time will tell if the Year 3 nest turns out to be the best. So far, so good!
While the Peregrine sat on the 3rd st. church cross, we ventured into Tompkins Square Park to see if Christo or Dora were around. Lo and behold, we found Christo chilling out in a low tree branch near the Ave. A playground.
When we asked him why he wasn’t attacking the Peregrine, he just gave us this look:
He must have something up his…wing. We’ll have to wait and see but, as of now, it’s a silent stalemate.
A Peregrine falcon has been hanging out on Christo & Dora’s cross on the 3rd street church for the past couple of days. It has been calling loudly each morning. There have been some battles between the hawks and other birds of prey lately. Christo and Dora have their work cut out for them. They surely wouldn’t be pleased with this.
Hawk-tivity in the East Village has come to a near standstill as Gog pointed out earlier this week. So we ventured back up to Central Park this week to follow up on Pale Male and Octavia’s recently rehabbed and released fledgling (see WINORR releasing the bird, photos by Jean Shum, video by Cathy Weiner).
According to hawk watchers in Central Park, the bird has been on a bit of a cultural tour of 5th Avenue this week. She spent time outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, waited in line to see the Woman in Gold at the Neue, and even checked out the Kandinsky’s at the Guggenheim.
After a couple of days with no sightings, we got word that the hawk was back along the northern edge of the Met at 86th St. and 5th Ave. For hours, the hawk put on a live show for spectators, joggers, and dogs alike.
While visitors were dazzled just to see the hawk so closely, it turned out that she was doing a one-time-only, live, interpretive performance of pieces in the Met’s collection.
We are proud to bring you the highlights of her show.
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
You could tell there was something special in the air this morning when even the ConEd plant looked beautiful.
Birds of a different feather circled above…
…and Christo was perched on the church, ready to begin another day.
He let out a rousing call as he took off from the church, effortlessly gliding around the neighborhood.
Then, as has become routine over the last week, from every direction, the young hawks flew in…
…circling above the rooftops of 3rd St. and Ave A…
…flying beautifully, higher and smoother than ever before.
They eventually landed near the church, calling back to their father that they were here and ready to eat.
As Dad went off to hunt, our hearts were warmed with the thought that all three young hawks are thriving. So far, they have overcome very tough odds (hawks have about a 20% chance of survival in their first year), but these young hawks are growing stronger every day.
A few hours later, just 2 miles down the isle of Manhattan as the crow flies, New York City celebrated another group that defeated all odds, and broke records! The “Canyon of Heroines” erupted with sheer joy honoring the amazing 2015 World Cup Champion US Women’s Soccer team (with an historic, first-ever NYC ticker-tape parade for a women’s team).
We have been so happy to receive lots of photos, videos, and questions from readers all around the neighborhood (and the world!). And then local businesses Downtown Yarns and Exit9 got into the hawk-spirit during #fledgewatch. But what we are about to show you is by far the BEST hawk-inspired work of art that we’ve received.
Alexi, a 5 year old recent Kindergarten graduate, lives very close to the hawks’ home base in the East Village. She has been able to watch them eat, fly, and explore their surroundings. The fledglings have even hung out on her family’s balcony!
Her whole family has been following their development. As Mom put it, “We are enjoying the experience of being near the Hawks.” We couldn’t say it better. But Alexi found a way to…she made a whole book!!
We urge you to go back and examine the detailed illustrations again, you’ll be delighted. Thank you so much, Alexi, for sharing your beautiful book with us. We look forward to keeping up with the hawks with you!