Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Riverside hawks: Blakeman

Photo by Bruce Yolton


A pair of photos of an adult Red-tail, perhaps one of the new Riverside Park pair, shows the bird with a yellowish iris, a definitive indicator of the bird's age. Fully mature birds have entirely dark brown eyes. This bird got its first red tail feathers in last summer's molt. It's now entering (in March or so) it's third year.
This is almost surely its first nesting attempt. These young, inexperienced birds are well-known for coming up short in some nesting or eyass-raising capacity. As I described before, the nest often isn't well-constructed and eggs cool. There can be incubation and eyass feeding difficulties.
I mention all of this to forestall the lamentations that would naturally arise upon the nest's failure this year. Hawkwatchers, in this case, should not be discouraged if the nest fails. Rather, this is a normal learning experience for the young pair, setting them up for future successes.
Of course, the nest may be a complete success, too. I hope so. A good number of first-time nestings do succeed.
No matter this year's results, it's so good to learn of yet another Red-tail pair taking a territory, building a nest, and so completely residing in New York City. It's a testament to the both quality of the natural environment in The City, and to the adaptive majesty of this regal species.
I hope more and more New York City residents can come to regard these great hawks as iconic symbols of nature in the city. I especially thank you, more than anyone else, for bringing all of this so clearing into public recognition and understanding. We all live better lives because of your efforts.
--John A. Blakeman