Pat Gonzalez is a Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer at The New York Botanical Garden.
Since 2009, I’ve been writing about the Garden’s red-tailed hawks here on Plant Talk, and I’m happy to report that 2022 marks their sixth consecutive breeding year. From 2017 to 2020 our resident pair has nested in a conifer deep within the Garden, hidden from prying eyes. All that changed in 2021 when they decided to set up shop in a sweetgum tree located in a much more open area, in full view of staff and Garden visitors.
Amazingly, this nest produced four hatchlings this year. But, sadly, three would not make it—two fell from the nest early on, and another passed soon after fledging. The fledged hawk contracted trichomoniasis, a disease carried by pigeons which can be fatal if the hawk preys on an infected bird.
On the opposite side of the Garden, however, another pair of red-tails has successfully nested in an old oak tree. Both of the fledglings from that nest have survived, and like their lone counterpart at the sweetgum nest, are now hunting on their own.
With four adults and three fledglings calling the Garden their home, sightings by NYBG staff have been reported all over these 250 acres! I want to encourage visitors to the Garden, as well as my colleagues, to get out on grounds to spot these magnificent raptors for yourselves. Take binoculars, or better yet, take a camera.
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