Friday, July 07, 2006

Red-tail and Lily Night, 7 Jul 2006

Things to do while hanging out in the foliage...


Watch dogs.


Suck bark.

Look for the pigeon you just knocked off the branch.

See who can go without a head the longest.

Hawk photos by D. B.

Michigan Lily, Lilium michiganense

Referred to in John Blakeman's email below. A rare prairie plant, five of which he found, and will use to propagate many more for use in the restoration of a large prairie for NASA.

Photo of Lily in Central Park by Eleanor Tauber

The Lilies are in bloom all over the place. Photos in today from New York and Ohio.


Frankly, I don't know how you folks in NYC can take the time and effort to be jaunting all over Manhattan with your cameras, etc. to find a few, often hidden red-tails. Out here, I can get in my car (now at elevated gas prices that may soon approach roundtrip NYC subway fare) and leisurely travel down back roads that I think have red-tails. Still, finding the birds this time of the year is very, very difficult.

Yesterday I was talking with one of my falconer friends, a fellow who also does a lot of raptor rehabbing. We both lamented the virtual loss of the red-tail in July. For vacation, my wife and I traveled some 350 miles down to Louisville, KY. On the seven hour trip I saw a mere three red-tails. When I do this at Christmas I see 25 to 35 or more. The hawks are still here and alive. But they really prefer to sit in the foliage of trees instead of out on open poles or dead trees. Why they do this is still a mystery after 40 years of observations. It's not an attempt to get out of the sun or heat. They birds park themselves in the foliage even in cool morning.

In August, when the eyasses are no longer being fed and are being driven from the territories, things open up dramatically, with red-tails perched all over the landscape once again. But for July and much of August, the birds seem to almost disappear.

Yesterday when I stepped out into the prairie in my back yard I was struck again with the opening of my Lilium canadense, a close prairie relative of the even more elegant L. michiganense. Both species are just stunningly elegant. They are a bit smaller than horticultural lilies, but this diminutive size conveys a marked natural elegance. Nothing like in all the world, for me. (I've attached a pair of JPEGs -- reduced in resolution so as to pass through my whisker-sized phone line.)

--John Blakeman

Canada Lily in Ohio

Lillium canadense

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