Pat Gonzalez is a wildlife photographer and Office Aide at the New York Botanical Garden.
For the last seven years, Nate and Liz, our resident pair of red-tailed hawks, have called the Garden their home. They set up house back in 2017 when they first nested in a hidden corner of the Garden, where they remained there for three years. Then, in 2020, they settled into a sweetgum tree in an area in full view of the public.
This year’s drama unfolded on February 8, when Frances Hall, our intrepid Director of Ticketing, was leading a staff bird walk. Among the group were eagle-eyed members of the Horticulture Department who spotted a hawk fly into an eastern white pine carrying a branch. A few days later I went to investigate, and within two minutes a red-tail landed in the tree, then took off. He came back a few minutes later with a branch in his beak. Yes! The wait began.
I would check in on them every few weeks, observing the nest-building activity as they prepared a new home for their future family.
Finally, May brought the moment of truth. One morning, I spotted two fluffy little heads peering out into the world. Mazel tov!
Sadly, the celebration was short-lived. One of the hatchlings didn’t make it, dying of unknown causes before it could fledge. Weeks later, I noticed the surviving hawk was no longer in the nest. At this point, I couldn’t help but worryI
I found him a few days later near the Rock Garden.
It’s wonderful to see a young fledgling going out and about trying to figure out what is alive and what isn’t. And this one is no exception to the rule. I saw him attempting to eat tree bark. Another time, he attacked a branch.
Eventually, he’ll figure it out.
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