Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Red Tailed Hawk Goes to Roost Without Dinner ...

A hungry Red Tailed hawk hunted throughout the latter part of St Patrick's Day afternoon and into the early evening in Tompkins Square Park . Red Tails do not normally hunt in the latter part of the day and certainly not in the evening ; they do not see especially well in low light . It could be seen though that the hawks crop was empty . The desperate hunt went on well past sundown .
Red Tails seem to prefer to hunt from perches . A tree limb , a building ledge , a fence , any place from which prey can be spotted and descended upon . This day though after diving and dropping again and again from a perch no prey was taken .
In one instance the hawk dropped like a rock from a tree limb onto a rat . When the hawk attempted to ferry the rat to a favorite broad and flat tree limb for dismemberment and consumption it dropped the rat into a shrub . It dived into the shrub in pursuit of the rat but could not recapture its lost dinner .
The red Tail winged its way around TSP flying from perch to perch , hunting in the red light of a setting sun until it was just too dark to see its prey . The Red Tail went to sleep without dinner this day roosting in a tree on 10th street .
We note that though the images above may not appear so very dark the actual scene when photographed was much darker . For instance the scene of the hawk taking to air with rat in talons was dark enough to make it difficult to see and focus the lens correctly . There is blur and grain because the shutter speed was relatively slow , the ISO was high and the lens was set wide open at f 1 giving little depth of Field .

I saw this hawk in the park around 3pm, pulling out the entrails from a squirrel from his perch along East Seventh Street. At one point, he dropped his meal, looked down to consider whether or not to retrieve it, but decided instead to climb to higher perch, from where he preened and sunned him/herself.
Yes that squirrel was a part of a day or so old stash that was a bit too far beyond being appealing even to a hungry hawk
We've seen these Red Tailed Hawks in Stuyvesant Town, where they are harrassed and chased by Crows and Blue Jays, but still feed on pigeons and squirrels anyway. I saw a Hawk circling above East 14th Street and Avenue A on Monday, 3/16 at 5pm, before it turned towards downtown, no doubt heading to Tompkins Square Park.
What sort are those strange blue-feathered birds in your fifth photo, feeding on a group of St. Paddy Day revelers?
Oops, sorry....posted this comment earlier on the wrong thread!

Fantastic shots, Bob! As JohnB points out, I witness a red-tailed hawk flying around the Stuy Town 14th St. Oval almost every morning.
I say the same a hawk this morning on the fence of the basketball court by the Ave C loop. He had a squirrel in his sights, and the squirrel was clearly, and audibly, not happy about it. A concerned citizen didn't want to see the squirrel perish, so she shoo'd the hawk off.
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