Monday, June 12, 2006

Hawks Fledge in New York

Both Washington, D.C., and New York City have active and skilled communities of birders within and around their borders. But somehow the birds in New York get more press. As a recent example, Pale Male and Lola's use of a perch on Central Park West gained major media coverage.

What goes for that famous pair goes for other red-tailed hawk pairs that nest in New York on a smaller scale. The other pairs may not get major media coverage, but each has a devoted following and gets blog coverage. Two pairs in Brooklyn - at Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery - are regularly monitored by the City Birder, who also receives and publishes reports on a pair at Fordham University in the Bronx. Several blogs (Urban Hawks, The Origin of Species, Palemaleirregulars, Marie Winn, and probably others) have reported on a pair of red-tails who nested high on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan. Unlike their more famous counterparts in Central Park, the Cathedral pair has successfully fledged at least one chick, with another still in the nest.

Why DC has not had similar coverage of a pair, I am not sure. There must be red-tailed hawk nests somewhere in DC, either on buildings or in other places that allow for careful monitoring by the public. Personally I do not know of any, but I am sure there are some who do know of them, especially since DC has been carefully surveyed for breeding birds over the past four years as part of a larger atlas project. Perhaps it is just a matter of the information not getting out, or perhaps it is a case of not having enough birders who blog. In New York there are at least a dozen bird bloggers, but here in DC I know of only three.

In any case, best of luck to the newly fledged hawks. For a report on the Cathedral fledgling (with pictures), see Urban Hawks. City Birder has the dirt on the Fordham pair. One interesting bit on the Cathedral pair is that the breasts of the hatchlings are bright orange, as opposed to the more usual red-tailed white. I do not have an answer for why that might be, but you can find speculation on it at Marie Winn's blog.