Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pale Male and Lola plus House Finch vs Purple Finch and Wild Turkeys

I discovered these bulbs poking up their first leaves this morning. Just a few days ago one couldn't even see the ground for several feet of snow, but today's sunny 65F is working its yearly miracle.
Today's Update on Pale Male and Lola's Progress
from the indefatigable Katherine Herzog

Sunday, Mar 11, 07 - (Sunny, windy, mid-40's F):

Lola spent most of the time completely disappearing deep down in the nest... invisible even to the probing, high-power eyes of Hawk Bench telescopes. Pale Male has been taking her place when she goes to stretch her wings and to pick up food in caches near the nest.

He is sinking down deep in the nest also, a sure sign that incubation has begun for a least one egg. Other behavior indicates that Lola is not finished laying....they both left the nest briefly to land on the adjacent Woody Building where they mated....after which Lola flew back to the nest and sunk down with just an occasional head bob to indicate her presence.

Pale is continuing to add to the nest....depositing a lovely twig with red buds today. The nest is noticeably fuller than even a few weeks ago...and greatly enhanced from the previous year. An intruder red-tail hawk prompted both Pale and Lola to escort it out of their territory. A consensus of Hawk Bench habitues confirm that egg-laying and incubation have begun!

Best, Katherine

(It certainly sounds like eggs! Kat, was there a specific reason that you could see that caused both hawks to leave the nest unattended? Did PM go back to the nest at some point while Lola got rid of the visitor? I've always wondered what causes the differences in their individual responses to intruders during breeding season. Does Lola always head off the nest if the intruder is female but not male for instance? Does she have more patience one day and not others? What makes the difference when PM and L both take to the air. Why is it that Pale Male will sometimes return to man the nest, one day standing vigilantly beside the bowl watching and on another he's so intense he whips his talons back across the twigs in a tough masculine hawk manner? I'm going to have to go back and look through my notes and see if I can answer any of my own questions. D. B.)

Today's Finch Quiz

Which species is it and why?

At 4:30pm today there were 38 male Purple and House Finch singing in the trees outside the house, all at the same time. This made is difficult to figure out which song was coming from whom and therefore visual ID became important.

Can you ID the species just by eyeballing an individual?

Purple Finch or House Finch?
Purple Finch or House Finch?

Purple Finch or House Finch?

And the hen?
Turkey Time

Photograph by Jackie Brown
The flock feeding around the Amazing Turkey Feeding Machine

See the two sentinels? The birds with their heads vigilantly up and alert. Whenever the flock feeds there are always two birds who are sentinels and don't eat. Quite a number of flocking birds have obvious "guards". Turkeys, African Grey Parrots, Bobwhite Quail...

What I want to know is how individual birds know when it's their turn? Obviously it can't be the same ones every day as they'd never get a chance to eat. Then the question arises as to whether the sentinel shifts are for the day or for shorter lengths of time? How do they decide? Is pecking order involved? Is it a high or low status job? It's time to find a turkey expert.
So many questions about so many things and so little time.

Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

I'd say the hen was a House Finch.


Donegal Browne said...

Beth, I'm with you. No pale eye stripe like a Purple Finch hen commonly has.