Friday, March 31, 2006

If only we had DNA evidence

Though I try to limit postings on this site to Central Park nature news [and subjects relevant to CP stories I've been following], and though the following story focuses on a redtail in a different NYC park, I have a hunch that the bird Bob Levy writes about below is part of the Pale Male dynasty. What could be more Central Park related than that?

Date: March 29, 2006
Location: Carl Schurz Park (Yorkville)
Subject: Red-tailed Hawk
Reporter: Bob Levy

For months I have noticed a Red-tailed Hawk hunting
pigeons over 2nd and 3rd Avenues in the east 80’s.
However, most often I saw it at a distance soaring
over what I assumed to be Carl Schurz Park although
from my vantage point I could not be certain of it.
Last evening I decided to find out if that was the
hawks headquarters. It is.

I found the Red-tailed Hawk within minutes of arriving
in the park. It was perched in the open about fifteen
feet above a number of dog walkers who were utterly
unaware of the bird’s presence. I was able to follow
it to several spots as it actively but unsuccessfully
hunted. Several times it went over the wall
surrounding Gracie Mansion, the “official” residence
of the Mayor of New York, and each time it was noisily
heckled by several American Robins, four House Finches
(a species I never noticed in this park before) and a
male and female Northern Cardinal.

On one perch, the hawk picked at strands of ivy
clinging to the bark. It got increasingly involved in
this activity until it ripped off a section of the
vine. Then it moved to another spot where it snapped
off a branch of a tree. This is an immature bird,
guessing by its size it might be a female but seeing
it take that branch made me hopeful that it was taking
it to a nest site. But it wasn’t. The hawk dropped the
branch on the way to its next stop. That was where the
hawk remained. Near the top of large oak it engaged in
vigorous grooming and then hunkered down to roost for
the night.

This is a great opportunity for birders to observe a
Red-tailed Hawk because Carl Schurz is only eleven
acres. There are lots of ideal perches, including the
surrounding high rises on East End Avenue that the
bird uses. I hope you get a chance to see it.

I would like to take this opportunity to answer two
questions I have been asked. The answers are “yes” and
“yes”. I was interviewed on the Brian Lehrer show on
WNYC on March 28th and I am doing a reading from my
book, Club George: the Diary of a Central Park
Bird-watcher, at Barnes & Noble on 82nd Street and
Broadway, Friday March 31st at 7:00 PM.