They have been spotted at the Met, the Carlyle Hotel, the Rambles, Washington Square Park and the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park,Queens. Will they be nesting in your neighborhood this April?
According to the City of New York, the Redtail hawk population is up by 150% since 2010, with more than 20 nests scattered about the five boroughs of NYC as of November 2016.
The city’s most popular Redtail, Pale Male, was first seen in the early 90’s. Pale Male, continues to be spotted on 79th street, in Central Park, and on Cedar Hill, but the specimen is likely an imposter. Pale Male would be 28 years old by now, making him one of the oldest Redtails on record. While the dining and living in NYC is pretty darned good, it is unlikely that it is good enough to have sustained this fellow for that length of time. Still, Pale Male is thought to have fathered more than 30 chicks in his lifetime. His sons, daughters and even grandchildren are undoubtedly soaring the cityscape to this day.
Male Redtails court females by soaring high in the sky and then dive bombing towards earth. Occassionally the pair will lock talons during this display and tumble down together before breaking apart and flying away, just before they hit the pavement. (In an odd way, it’s a little like a date I went on about week ago J
In April, find out where the latest nests are located by going to this this website by a New Yorker who regularly blogs about our resident Redtails. Redtails spend about 4 days constructing a sizeable next of twigs lined with bark and dry leaves. In NYC, these nests have been found on building ledges, on top of air conditioners, in stadium lighting in the Bronx, and trees. Most famously, a pair nested on a ledge of the late Mary Tyler Moore’s home on 5th avenue. When the building’s board had the nest removed due to the mess that the birds were creating, Moore took a vigorous stand on behalf of the birds and forced the board to allow the birds to rebuild.
Redtails lay 1-5 eggs and both the male and female take turns doing the incubating. Chicks hatch in 28-35 days and are fed in the nest by both parents for 6 weeks before taking wing and circling the skies.
City Redtails feed mostly on rats and mice, a different diet from their country counterparts who more frequently enjoy the taste of squirrel and rabbit. There is concern that the use of anti-coagulant rodenticides may be killing some of our resident Redhawks, but firm evidence remains illusive. Still, to protect these natural rodent predators, the city of New York, will not use rodenticides in areas of New York where Redtails are known to be nesting.
Bio-diversity in New York City
The rising population of Redtails, of honey bees, and even of coyotes in the city is an excellent starting point for a discussion on the value of cohabitating peacefully with the other creatures of this earth. It may be that these redtail hawks teach us to look up and realize that the diversity of our city, on all kinds of levels, is a great strength, a source of inspiration, and another confirmation that we live in greatest city on earth.