Monday, July 25, 2005

A sleep-deprived hawkwatcher


Dear Marie:

I was at the Columbus Circle Fountains last night and
was delighted to see three red-tails over the SW
corner of the park. Around 8:15 a fledgling was
perched on a balcony railing on the ugly Central Park
South apartment building (the last one on the block).
The fledgling flew into the park and stayed but Jr.
and Charlotte flew to Columbus Circle and were
swirling around the Trump Hotel for several minutes,
several times their wing tip would brush the building.
Then they perfomed an aerial display over Broadway at
60th Street, swirling around each other for another
two or three minutes. Jr. and Charlotte then perched
on the terrace over the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental
Hotel, I think this is the 36th floor (they get to
enjoy the view without paying for the pricey drinks).
They landed about three feet away from each other and
Jr. "scooted" across the terrace ledge to be closer to
Charlotte. They spent several minutes together and
then Jr. perched on several of the lower terraces of
both the North and South Towers of the Time Warner
Building. Then Jr. and Charlotte both flew to Jr.'s
perch on Seventh Avenue around 8:40. She perched on
an antenna just above his roost of the vertical
support and stayed for about ten minutes and then she
flew east. I wanted to find out what time Jr. would
fly out for a day of hunting. I went back to the
roost at 4:50 a.m. and he was gone. Do you have any
idea what time red-tails "start their day"?

A very sleepy hawk-lover,
Kelley Harrison

My answer: Well, according to the US Naval Observatory Civil Twilight is 5:14 a.m. It should be completely dark at 4:50am. Even with city lights I'd say that's too early for the biological clock of a RTH to be going a'hunting.