Plant Talk

NYBG Hawk Nest: Year Four

Posted in Environment & Conservation on December 10, 2020, by Patricia Gonzalez

Patricia Gonzalez is a Visitor Services Attendant at The New York Botanical Garden and an avid wildlife photographer.

Photo of a red-tailed hawk in a tree

A red-tailed hawk perched in a tree at NYBG this past summer (Photo: Patricia Gonzalez)

On March 6 of this year, I observed the Garden’s resident red-tailed hawk pair gathering branches and tree bark which they then used to reinforce their nest. Yes—this was huge! If all went well, this would be the fourth year in a row that they chose to extend their family at The New York Botanical Garden.

Soon after, on March 15, I had some of the best wildlife encounters of the year to that point. Before my shift and during my lunch break, I was able to film Canada geese, robins, cardinals, mallards, a wood duck pair, and even sunbathing red-eared sliders at Twin Lakes. I edited all this footage into a video titled Sights and Sounds of Bronx Wildlife.

Sadly, the very next day, we all got the email about the Garden temporarily closing for the COVID-19 shutdown. For months, like so many of my colleagues, I had to go without access to our sprawling 250 acres. It wasn’t easy being away from the wild residents that I’ve been photographing and filming there since 2008, and I eagerly awaited my first trip back.

After what seemed like an eternity, I returned to the Garden in July to lush, green lawns and beautiful summer flowers. Naturally, I was curious to see what the hawk pair I’d photographed in March had gotten up to since I’d last seen them. I got my answer on July 11, when I spotted not one but two young red-tails along the forest edge. One was attempting to kill a sweetgum ball, one of the spiky seed clusters dropped by Liquidambar styraciflua. It was soon joined by its sibling as they practiced their novice hunting skills.

The year four NYBG hawk nest is something to celebrate! Social distancing bubbly, anyone?

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