Posted tagged ‘Harlem Hawk Walk’

Red-tail Eats Lunch in Riverside Park

January 19, 2011

Regular encounters with Riverside’s red-tailed hawks have rung out the old year and are ringing in the new.

Winter’s bare branches make the birds easier to spot. And the truth is, Morningside Heights and Harlem teem with raptors. Look up and out as you stroll neighborhood parks and streets or along the river, and you may see red-tails, kestrels, peregrine falcons or even a bald eagle.

One morning in late December, I scanned the skies and building tops from my window for avian activity.  Seagulls soared to and from the river, a flock of pigeons wheeled in and out of sight to the east, and a lone starling perched atop the school.

On last year’s Harlem Hawk Walk with James of The Origin of Species, I learned to pay attention to unusual bumps on water towers, antennae and chimneys.

Binoculars revealed a large hawk on the right tower. After about 15 minutes, the bird opened its wings and soared east down a side street. It was probably a red-tail, but I couldn’t be sure. I still need up close and personal encounters to identify what I’m looking at.

Later in Riverside Park, a juvenile red-tail obliged.

I almost walked right by, but a raspy cry drew my attention to a tree branch by the path, where a perching hawk sat and watched … something..

I followed its gaze up the slope towards the retaining wall.

Aha.

I tied Esau to a garbage can

and made my way slowly up the slope. The hawk did not seem to mind my presence.

It was intent on devouring a squirrel. The head was pretty much off the little mammal, but much of the body – and the beautiful bushy tail – remained intact.

I watched from a few yards away, while the first hawk watched from the tree branch.

The meal required a remarkable amount of effort. The hawk stood on the carcass to hold it down.

Then the bird tore and pulled with its powerful beak.

The next day, I returned to the spot to see if any signs of the meal remained. I once found a squirrel tail on the upper path and wondered how it came to be there. Now I think I know the answer. I expected to find bits of fur caught in the fallen leaves.

I did not expect to find … utensils.

Ah, the mysteries of the city.

Harlem Hawk Walk (with inevitable coyote update)

March 4, 2010

(New York City coyote and raccoon news (see earlier posts) has been developing with such rapidity that I have been delaying other stories, including the one below. But the news just keeps on coming: The coyote visited Chelsea at around 3:30 AM on March 3rd, prompting a call to 911 and a response by police. The animal narrowly eluded capture, and ran north along the West Side Highway where the last report placed it around 57th Street. Did it head east from the river to return to Central Park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary at 59th Street? We don’t know. I hung out at Hallett yesterday evening, but saw no coyote.)

Harlem Hawk Walk

On February 14th, I headed north to join James, Harlem hawk watcher par excellence, for his annual Harlem Hawk Walk. We had many red-tailed hawk sightings in many different locations, watched a peregrine attack a red-tail, admired a lovely male Canvasback in the Hudson and saw turkey vultures gliding low near upper Broadway.

James and the youngest member of our group head towards the Hudson

Another member of the group, an experienced hawk watcher and photographer, has written a fine description of our day, complete with lovely hawk photos. Read it at Bloomingdale Village.

I’m sorry to report that I was one of the group who did not return to James’s roof at the end of the day, and so missed the Cooper’s Hawk circling overhead. On the other hand, I’m quite sure I saw two turkey vultures cruising Hamilton Heights.

To those of you reading this from outside Manhattan: hard as it may be to believe, turkey vultures are actually rare here in the city. In Texas, I saw them everywhere, although usually circling high above. But here it’s wonderfully strange to see a vulture over city streets.

James's ice floe- unlike mine - has EAGLES! Go see his photos.

Be sure to visit James at The Origin of Species and take a look at his photos of bald eagles fishing off ice floes in the Hudson River. He has hawk photos as well, and will eventually post wonderful pictures of our hawk walk.

Looking north over Hawk Island (aka Manhattan) from 123rd Street rooftop


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,247 other followers

%d bloggers like this: