The Nature of the Square newsletterSign up!

The Covid-19 situation in New York and elsewhere remains grim. We hope you and all your loved ones are well and safe. Our in-person public programs are still on hold, but we have resumed our bird survey and plant phenology monitoring programs with appropriate physical distancing protocols. For official park status updates, please visit the NYC Parks Department Service Announcements page.

Have you heard? The park has a pair of adult red-tailed hawks again! Here’s the nest history of the last two years in a nutshell: In 2019, the male (“Bobby”) went missing after the three eyasses hatched, and was presumed dead. A new male (“Juno”) entered the territory and was naturally aggressive towards the chicks. The chicks’ fledging process was equally dramatic. This year, the female (“Sadie”) laid three eggs, but then went missing. She was presumed dead. Juno covered the eggs with natural materials. A new female entered the territory and was courted by Juno. However, before the pair could establish a nest, “Juno” disappeared. A dead hawk was found nearby but it hasn’t been confirmed if the dead hawk was “Juno”. A new male is in the territory. I observed both new hawks in the park on May 5th. A fellow birdwatcher spotted the hawks mating and saw the male hawk bring half of a pigeon to the female.

One more tidbit: a juvenile redtail has also been spending time in the park. This young hawk is banded; the bird has a federal band on one leg and a colored band on the other.

In the floral realm, the flash of the saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangea) and the cherries (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ and Prunus x yedoensis) blossoms have faded. But, the showy bracts of the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) are delighting us now. Peer closely and you will see the true flowers of this plant starting to open in the center of the white bracts (above). A couple of other botanical features to look for are the fruits of the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and the Yoshino cherry (below). Visit our Plant Phenology story map for more information.

Finally, since we can’t exhibit our bird specimens in public, we’ll bring them to New Yorkers on social media. Click over to our Instagram feed to watch Specimen Stories: Red-tailed hawk in our Story, or watch the hawk segment or the previous one about the Northern flicker in our Highlights (“Collection”). Plus, for our young followers, we will host read-alouds of nature picture books. We will post details via Twitter and Instagram.

Please reach out to us with any natural history questions about the park. Our email is We are happy to answer them if we can.

Stay well.