Saturday, July 23, 2005

What's next?

Carla McDonough, a website correspondent, writes:

What to expect now?  Do the fledgings go back to the nest and hang out or do
they just go from building to building then eventually venture out to the
park? How do PM Jr. and Charlotte feed they drop the prey off at
the buildings, or at the nest or what?

My answer: Here's the way it usually worked with the Fifth Avenue Fledglings:

The young almost always fledged to nearby buildings, using balconies, railings, roof walls, window ledges etc, as if they were branches on a tree. They almost never went back to the nest. On one or two occasions a fledgling took his first flight directly into the park. But without exception the bird went back to the safety of the Fifth Avenue buildings across the street. Safety from what? Safety from angry Central Park birds defending their territories from these dangerous new predators. Five angry bluejays divebombing a baby hawk's head ain't pleasant, especially if that baby can barely manage to stay upright on the swaying branch.

While the fledglings are on buildings the parents make food drops at each fledgling location. The kids no longer need to be fed. They tear at the food on their own. They also spend quite a bit of their first week sleeping. In Red-tails in Love I describe the many experiences hawkwatchers had thinking dire thoughts when they saw a fledgling stretched out on a rooftop having a little snooze. "He's dead!" was the cry at such a sight.

After about a week, or a bit longer, the hawk family moves permanently into the park. In the past they settled in the area just north of the model-boat pond with the Metropolitan Museum of Art as the northern boundary.
There commenced Hawk Nursery School and then higher education. During the next month or so the parents feed the kids, full meals at the beginning and then, as the month wears on, a bit less; the young must learn to hunt for themselves.

During the daytime, in "olden days" the kids mainly sat on branches and loudly begged for food: Kleeek kleeeek kleeek. Consequently they were always easy to locate. We also saw flying lessons and hunting lessons. Like all young creatures the hawk fledglings also spend time playing, together or each by himself. We've seen tugs-of-war over a picked-up glove, or mock pouncing on twigs or insects. As with human young, the hawks' play activities were mainly directed towards acquiring necessary skills.

We'll see where the Trump Parc family decides to setle down. It will definitely not be hard to find them, thanks to the fledglings' noisy begging.