Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pale Male and Lola sit on Linda

Pale Male on the 927 nest

Pale Male and Lola on Linda 2 in one of their typical pair positions, one facing in and one facing out.
Now there has been some talk that Lola just wants to watch her Soaps through the window, but I've always thought that perhaps it was a mechanism for keeping an eye out for each other's backs while perched so closely together. There is the constant observation of territory that is a matter of course and people do live in the apartments behind those windows.
Sometimes Pale Male or Lola are there alone facing the window and truly do look like they are watching what is going on inside. Which may be the case. When in non-breeding season and the light is at the correct angle they might well be watching not only what is happening inside the apartment but also by a shift in head position looking at the reflection of what is behind them as well.
During breeding season when the testosterone is running high, Pale Male has been known to "bump" a Linda window at which point sometimes a resident comes gently and slowly to the window and softly pulls a shade or curtain. I don't know if the bump is a response to his reflection or a protective move because there is someone close by on the other side of the glass.
Pale Male Jr. has been known to downright menace on the wing what looks to be his reflection in the glass towers in Columbus Circle.

Next, a November 13th sighting from hawk watcher Katherine Herzog-

It was drizzling lightly as I sat on the Hawk Bench, the park almost empty of people at dusk and Lola flew to PM's perch on #4 Linda....they seemed to be communicating vocally as PM faced toward 5th Ave and Lola faced the window....they touched beaks (a goodnight kiss?)

Lola left first & PM followed a minute later toward the Turtle Pond....very sweet but nothing they haven't done before. Just a reminder of what a loving couple they still are. Ric says both PM and L have been visiting the nest almost on a daily basis....single sometimes, other times together. Making sure no one messes with their turf.



Anonymous said...

I thought that hawks kept to themselves for most of the year. Why are Pale Male and Lola different?

Donegal Browne said...

Why are Pale Male and Lola different? To tell you the truth, I'm afraid we'd have to ask them for the best answer and as far as I know they aren't much for talking to humans.

Actually we're not even sure if they are that completely and utterly different. We do know that some of Pale Male's previous mates did seem to become scarce in the off breeding season. One may even have taken a vacation to New Jersey and been hit by a car.

But in reality, as it's so difficult to observe many Red-tail pairs in their usual territories, we don't really know exactly how rare Pale Male and Lola's penchant for hanging out together in the non-breeding season actually is. Though the common wisdom concerning "normal" Red-tail behavior would lead us to believe that it is very rare.

Just theorizing here, but it might have something to do with the high prey availibility in Central Park. There is plenty of food so why venture further afield, bringing us back to the Raisin Bread Theory.

Then one might ask why the other mates weren't observed more doing the same, if it had to do with prey?

Well, here's a little secret, there is very little to do with wildlife behavior that stems from only one "cause", in my opinion, unless it has to do with innate "wiring".

Red-tails, once again in my opinion, have to come up with solutions to various environmental needs either through observation of other hawks or experimentation to find the solution on their own. They are generalists and don't have an innate solution to everything wired in.

For instance, Pale Male discovered how to take pigeons as prey. Not something that his ancestors seem to have been doing or one would think that the ancestors of the pigeons would have evolved some kind of wired-in response to help them from being so easily nabbed.

Now from what I've been told Lola was young when she appeared on the scene and turned Pale Male's head. Her eyes had not completely darkened yet from report. She is unlikely to have had a previous mate who kept his distance in the off season.

Also from report, some of Pale Male's earlier mates were more experienced females who may have passed breeding seasons with other mates and the pairs may have done the "usual" branching out to other hunting grounds due to prey availibility during the off season. They may even have been from territories from which Red-tails migrate. Once learned a behavior that works tends to be kept.

As far as I know, Pale Male has tended to winter in Central Park keeping an eye on things. Perhaps Lola, not having had any other experience to the contrary just took his cue and stayed around too.

Though that doesn't really account for their sitting around in the same tree together as there are plenty of other spots to companionably sit apart if that's the urge and pass the winter with full crops.

Without question these two birds are very deeply bonded.

And....there is also the fact that they are Sovereigns of Central Park.

What is it Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth says to Katherine of France when she says it isn't the custom for certain behaviors to take place between them?

"...nice customs courtesy to great kings. You and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion: we are the makers of manners."