Saturday, April 22, 2006

Raptors At Sunset: 21-April-2006

Central Park South: Red-tailed Hawk
& Peregrine Falcon
Portion of ‘ESSEX HOUSE’ Sign
RT-SE_esSEX_w350p.jpg

(click image to view uncropped)

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The image above shows the adult male Red-tailed Hawk, from the Trump Parc nest, perching on the ‘X’ on the Essex House sign tonight (Fri., 21-Apr). When I arrived at 6:55pm he was already there.

Around 7:32pm I happened to be looking at the hawk in the binoculars as it headed off to roost for the night. Sunset was at 7:41pm.

Before it disappeared from view it pulled off one of coolest moves I've seen in awhile. As it left its perch it dove, then rose a bit losing quite a bit of speed. I thought it was going to stall or veer off in another direction.

Instead, after it reached the top of the stall, it proceeded in the same direction and dove steeply. A few seconds into the drop it started to pull up again. This is when I lost it behind some trees.

This undulating flight is one of the more deliberate bits of ‘fun’ I've seen in quite some time. This was observed from Gapstow Bridge (south of Wollman Rink) while I was keeping one eye on a Peregrine Falcon and the other on this Red-tailed Hawk.

‘Birds of North America’ on-line refers to this as a ‘Sky-dance’ used in both agonistic behavior and courtship displays. Quite a versatile tool.

At Bruce Yolton's blog you can see an image of this male Red-tailed Hawk taken at around the same time. This hawk is referred to as ‘Junior’. The photo above was taken at 7:06pm. Check out the second image down in ‘Watching Paint Dry’ for a nearly simultaneous close-up.

Central Park South: Peregrine Falcon

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(click image to view uncropped)

PF-GM_h084p.jpg

The first raptor spotted from the park was this Peregrine Falcon perched on the G.M. Building's roof. It stood on the north-west corner of the building from at least 6:55pm.

There was little activity until the falcon flew to a fence on the north face below the building's roof. From here it took a flight close to a place where the pair might be nesting. I'm looking for a few more views to confirm this suspicion.

The reason I think this is a nest site is due to the falcon's disappearing to this spot only to emerge from the floor of this space. This is exciting to see after watching Peregrines in the area for nearly 10 years.

From 7:48pm to 7:54pm the Peregrine perched on various fences below the G.M.'s roof. By 7:56pm I wasn't able to relocate it again. The end of Civil Twilight, when it becomes nearly impossible to see the Peregrines with binoculars, was 8:10pm.

The images above were taken around 7:00pm.


Related items:
• Peregrine Falcon updates — 2006: 13-Apr, 21-Apr, 24-Apr, 26-Apr, 28-Apr, 30-Apr, 4-May, 5-May, 6-May, 7-May, 9-May, 11-May, 12-May, 13-May, 14-May, 16-May, 17-May, 18-May, 19-May, 21-May, 22-May, 23-May, 31-May
Earliest Peregrine Falcon Nest in N.Y.C.?
Behavior of Peregrine Falcons in the N.Y.C. Region
      by Richard A. Herbert & Kathleen Green Skelton Herbert
Obs. of Duck Hawks Nesting on Man-made Structures
      by Horace Groskin

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