Plant Talk

A New Red-Tailed Hawk Joins the NYBG Family

Posted in Environment & Conservation , What's On at NYBG on July 13, 2023, by Pat Gonzalez

Pat Gonzalez is a wildlife photographer and Office Aide at the New York Botanical Garden.

Two brown and white birds of prey perch on bare branches under a blue sky

NYBG’s resident pair of breeding red-tailed hawks, Nate and Liz, named for the Garden’s founders—Nathaniel Lord Britton and Elizabeth Knight Britton.

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.

A distant view of a large bird's nest tucked between the winding branches of a tall tree

The hawks’ nest visible in an eastern white pine tree on grounds.

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.

A brown and white bird of pray walks on a bright green lawn

The young hawk, newly fledged, explores the 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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