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Baby Red-Tailed Hawks Prepare to Leave East Village Nest

By Lisha Arino | June 23, 2014 12:09pm
 Three red-tailed hawk chicks are getting ready to leave a nest built on a seventh-floor air conditioner at the Christodora House near Tompkins Square Park.
Baby Hawks at Christodora House
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EAST VILLAGE — Three young red-tailed hawks born on an East Village air conditioner are preparing to leave their nest for the first time.

The baby hawks, hatched in early May, have recently been spotted testing their wings in their nest on a seventh-floor window at the Christodora House, at East Ninth Street and Avenue B. They could fly away any day now, said Dennis Edge, a nearby resident who has been birding for the past 10 years.

"They were jumping all over the place and the parents were coming with food," Edge said, describing the scene in the nest on Sunday.

Birders have been keeping a close eye on the nest since the parent hawks — nicknamed “Christo” and “Dora,” after the building — made their home on top of an air conditioning unit a few months ago.

"They've become community celebrities," Edge said.

Michael Natale, another hawk observer, recently stood next to the Christodora House by Tompkins Square Park, his camera mounted on a tripod and pointed up at the nest. He said he has been stopping by at least once a day over the past week, in the hopes of catching the birds take their first flight.

He hasn't spotted them leaving the nest yet, but he has been posting videos and photos of the chicks on his neighborhood nature blog, Tompkins Trees.

“They do a lot of flapping up and down with their wings and hopping up and down. They like to get a couple inches of air over the nest,” Natale said, adding that he’s also seen the young hawks peek over the edge of the nest, as if to plan out where they’ll land.

Curious passerby have also been stopping to look at the nest. On Friday afternoon, some pulled out their phones to take photos, while others borrowed Natale’s binoculars.

Jennifer Saftler, who has lived in the neighborhood since the early 1990s, was awed by the hawks.

“I think the hawk in the middle of the city is a pretty cool idea,” she said. “It’s nice that nature can take over wherever it is.”