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.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Eldest and Chromatic Aberration

Eldest, in a photo with examples of chromatic aberration.

I told you we'd get back to that. It's the purplish "glare" on some of the edges. A peculiar problem with digiscoping especially when the star of the shot is backlit.

Yes, this is Eldest again as per the photo in the previous entry. The first eyass to fledge from the St. John the Divine Cathedral Church nest in the 2006 season.

Rescued Hawk Treated and Released!

One of the Divines from the Cathedral nest last season sporting an example of a young Red-tailed Hawk's brown tail. We don't know the identity of the Brown-tail rescued near the 59th St. bridge in Queens.
Katherine Herzog, hawkwatcher and researcher, has unearthed some information on the Brown-tail mentioned in The New York Post's article of November 2nd. (See entry of November 13th, Not Pale Male's daughter but...?)
Kat got in touch with Mike Pastore, Director of Operations at Animal Care and Control, and he very nicely emailed her back with the information that the young hawk was found dazed and weak, and therefore was able to be approached and captured by a caring individual.
The Post article relates that after being rescued the brown-tail went first to The Animal Medical Center and then was given into the care of Animal Care and Control (ACC).
Mr. Pastore of ACC, told Katherine that the hawk was then rehabilitated by Bobby Horvath of Long Island. (Thanks, B. H.) And when fit, she was released where she had been found, in Queens near the 59th St. Bridge.
No information yet on exactly what might have been wrong with her; never fear we're still digging.
But don't you just love having a successful ending to a rescue?
Donegal Browne
P.S. The new system still has some interesting aspects, like the yellow highlighting from Spellcheck that sometimes won't go away and the fact that it tends to eliminate all the blank lines between paragraphs.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Attack of the Downy

Downy Woodpecker forages on twigs at super speed with what looks like both beak and tongue.
(His expression is similar to that given to attacking bees in cartoons.) This is a bird with purpose.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pale Male Looks and John Blakeman Responds

Pale Male Looks...

At the Hawk Bench

Towards Oreo

At the nest

Towards one of Lola's favorite trees.


To The Ramble

And UP.

John Blakeman, an Ohioan, who has spent many years watching and working with Red-tailed Hawks, responds to the photo of Pale Male looking directly up at the sky.


The photo of Pale Male peering blankly into space was not blank at all. The bird was decidedly observing other hawks passing high overhead, just now at the height of the autumnal migration of red-tails and a few other species.

As long as these migrants stay high above, they will not be challenged by the residents below. Our man, Pale Male, was just checking things out, making sure that the migrants were staying high above.

My falconry red-tail does this from time to time. She cocks her head sideways a bit and peers up at an angle into pure, clear air. Initially, it appears to be a fruitless or pointless posture. But I've learned to look into the sky where she is looking, and it's not directly out in front. Hawks have two foveae, or retinal concentrations of sensory cells, and when they want to see a high, distant object, they use the fovea that causes them to look out sideways.

When I see this, especially when I have a pair of binoculars, I can scan the same sector of the sky and often discover what the bird was watching. Usually, it's a tiny hawk many hundreds of feet high above. As long as the migrant drifts high overhead, the bird is dismissed. But if it drops toward the ground, the resident hawk will often fly off and challenge it. Usually, just the bird's flight alarms or warns the intruder and it high-tails it right back into the sky or out of the territory.

In this photo, Pale Male was surmising his enter realm, including the most loftiest reaches overhead -- here, prompted by the stream of November migrants heading southward.

--John Blakeman
And for the celestially minded, astronomy season has started, check out the first outing of the season on Ben C.'s site- Sounds like a grand time was had by all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pale Male Checks It Out

We couldn't see a thing, but Pale Male obviously could.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What was really in the sky and what wasn't?

The below bright spots, magnified.

Some bright spots in the sky, as they appeared to the eye, through the scope. The three spots were visible to the naked eye as well.

Photograph taken of a bright spot in the sky, November 4, 2006, roughly to the east southeast,
Under more magnification on the computer, it appeared to me to be possibly a celestial orb of some kind.

As I'd no idea what it really was , I emailed Ben C. of for some possible answers.

Ben wrote,
"The green orb in the photo you asked about is *almost* certainly an internal reflection."

I then bumped it up some more so Ben could get a better look, and under more magnification on the computer the edges became fuzzy.

Ben, with the larger look, would you still think the same? It doesn't seem to have the same "movement" of the bright spots above. ???


Not Pale Male's daughter but..?

Here's an article from The New York Post sent in by Hawkwatcher Kathering Herzog.

Obviously as Pale Male's nest falled last season, a yearling brown-tail isn't a daughter to Pale Male and Lola, but beyond that, does anyone have any information about this incident?

You can email me by using the comment section. With the new system, all comments are emailed to me through that section. They are now private unless the publish function is used on my end.


November 2, 2006 -- A year-old red-tailed hawk who is believed to be a daughter of Pale Male, the city's reigning raptor, is recovering from a flying accident.
The bird plummeted to the ground on Monday while flying near the 59th Street Bridge.
Joe Mora, an animal rescuer who was under the bridge watching a pair of red-tailed hawks, said that for some reason, the bird became wobbly when she dived to eat a crow and fell to the ground.
Mora took the hawk to the Animal Medical Center, where she was treated and released to the city's Animal Care and Control agency yesterday.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This "time of year", being relative...

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber
This time of year in New York City

Screen captured from the feed of Pete's Pond in Botswana.
This time of year in Botswanna.
Both photographs sent in by Eleanor Tauber, who contributes many wonderful photos to the blog.

Mark U. Delivers on Another Mystery Plant and Beta Blogger is Up

A Yew Shrub, the berries are favored by many migrating birds, including Rusty Blackbirds and the Trushes.

Mark comes through again.

Mark U. the gold star plant researcher, who identified the Boston Ivy, has done it again. He's come up with the name of another plant that I've been wondering about. It's a horticultural shrub version of the Yew. It has the red berries that are often the first to be eaten in The Bird Park by native birds.

The only time I've seen a Rusty Blackbird in the BP, we don't have the moist ecosystem they prefer, a seemingly exhausted individual suddenly appeared in front of me, landed on the bush, lost it's grip, struggled to stay on the twig, and then began to voraciously eat the berries. Somewhat strengthened by his meal, he flew over to the traffic circle until I left. Then he returned as I was locking the gate, and began to eat more.

As we're speaking of the Yew tree and it is near the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt...the French, the English...Henry V, remember? The decisive victory of the incredibly outnumbered English over the French historically has been lain at the feet of the English Archer.

And what about the Yew? There was a law in Briton that every church yard had to have a relative of the shrub, the Yew tree in it.
Because Yew is the wood of choice, hands down, for bows. The excellence comes from the difference in the inner and outer layers of the wood giving the bow more power and spring. The government always wanted to make sure that the famed English archers, more likely Welsh, Scots, and Irish actually, always had the stuff available to make their weapons.
These days bows are often made of laminated materials which mimic the special layering of Yew wood.


The new version of Beta-Blogger is now up. And it seems to working very well in the usage department but there were some glitches in the transfer from the old program. The comments section has disappeared from the previous entries, as well as some of the entries themselves. The engineer page tells me that these problems are being worked on and the full blog without glitches will be up very soon.

Also concerning comments, there is a new feature of Beta-Blogger. Comments are directly emailed to me, before being posted, so it's a super way for you to contact me personally. Though one might have to register in order to place a comment at all in the new system, I'm not sure. We'll see as things progress.

Donegal Browne

Shipshape Falcon and Chromatic Aberration

First sighting.

How the Shipshape bird looked to observers, and then digiscoped.

Chromatic Aberation is coming soon.

The Long Island Red-tail and The Starlings

Today, Saturday, was spent in Huntington, Long Island. At about 11:30 AM, standing in an open grassy area surrounded by small patches of woods, a Red-tail appeared in the sky soaring in everchanging circles above the trees. She continued on, in what I've come to think, from watching Red-tails in other RT behavioral situations, is an observation mission about prey. She then disappeared out of sight to the north, behind trees.

At 3:11PM, a mature Red-tail, conceivably the one seen in the morning, appeared in the east followed closely by a flock of approximately 50 Starlings. My initial thought was that the hawk was being mobbed by Starlings. But in a moment I saw that wasn't true. There were none of the frenetic dives and individual actions seen in mobbing. The Starlings were following a little above and behind the Red-tail in a very structured, precise pattern. They continued to adjust , to bank and weave in swift formation which kept them, no matter the hawk's flying pattern, just a little behind and a little above the raptor.

Why? Did it give them the best protection in that moment in regards to predation by the Red-tail?

When Pale Male Jr. demonstrated his "on the wing" pigeon nabbing technique to Little, after flushing the pigeons off the rooftops, chasing them into a united circling flock at full speed, he then slowed down, waited for the pigeons to catch up, then turned on a dime in midair to come back at them and possibly procure lunch. But these birds though close behind the hawk, were also above her, always, making the quick reverse move much less satisfactory in capturing prey due to the difference in altitude.

A Red-tail does not gain much altitude without time for the effort of flapping, or in this case by the Red-tail's precise timing of catching just the right updraft at just the right moment of the about face. Starlings being faster in abrupt changes of altitude , the close but above position just might be a safer position for them then some others they could take . That is, if she even knew the Pale Male Dynasty technique of the mid-air instantaneous turn back.

Something to watch. Please let me know if you can add anything from your observations of Red-tails or Starlings to the matter.