Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pale Male Tempts Lola and Estimated Hatch Date for the Divines

Pale Male stands with prey at his feet giving Lola a chance to get up and have some dinner.
Concerned Hawk Watcher and pollen engulfed reporter Katherine Herzog weighs in with a report from The Bench, concerns about Central Park rat bait stations, and a question for John Blakeman, our Ohio Red-tail expert.

Hey, Donna-

Been a bit under the weather with the great fluctuations in temperature...trying to get over a cold and my raging pollen allergies! Hope all is well with you.

Following is a short report from the bench.

Central Park - 5th Avenue "Hawk Bench" Tuesday, March 27, 2007 (Sunny, 78F)

2:30pm to 5:05pm:Comment at the Hawk Bench from long-time birder, Joanne, "ok, I've had it with this heat....can't wait til winter". Yes, Virginia, there is global warming and I'm not looking forward to 35-degree-higher-than-normal temps in June/Jul/Aug....119F? But let me not begin my climate change ranting!

We've noticed a behavior pattern change with Pale and Lola that is very different from when she started laying eggs on March 10th....she is really quite content to sit and sit and sit....with very short breaks from her incubating chores and when Pale arrived at the nest at 4:37pm with a juicy half-pigeon, Lola ignores it completely! I guess she doesn't require that many calories sitting stock-still in the nest for hours.

After waiting for 20 minutes for Lola to take interest in the food...Pale finally took off with it into the Park. She calmly adjusted her position, preened and looked none the worse for lack of victuals. (Earlier in the month when she started laying eggs she was famished and ripped into the food she is very blase and Pale is not coming around as often to sit near the nest.)

The recent pet deaths from rat poison reminded me, once again, that our beautiful park is festooned with rodent "bait stations" of a rodenticide called: BROMADIALONE. From info on the net from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Tufts University, raptor rehab people it's amazing we still have Pale Male and Lola still so healthy after all these years of rat and mouse consumption. Is it that their "healthy choice" meals of Grey Squirrel and Rock Dove (Pigeon) that keeps them from suffering serious health effects? The referenced labs are quite definitive about the weakness and deaths of raptors that come into their facility....suffering from secondary poisoning from this particular chemical formula.

I think it might be a stretch to conclude that the RTH nest failures are due to this problem (both on 5th Avenue and the CPS nest) but I think it's most likely the demise of most of the park's Eastern Screech Owls is connected to this poison. After all, except for an occasional small bird caught at sunset, the majority of the owl's diet is mice and young rats. And some of the "bait stations" are situated close to the 5th Avenue nest and a few meters from the Ramble, Central Park's wildlife nature preserve!

Is it possible to bring, the wonderful Mr. Blakeman in on this subject? Would really appreciate any insight he could give on this topic.

All the best, Katherine

Isolde, Mom of the Divine Pair, on Gabriel's Horn Photo: Donegal Browne

Robert Schmunk's ( ) reply to my questions about just what might be the time frame for hatching behind St. Andrew's elbow up at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Refer back to Isolde and Tristin Caught Switching.

Per my blog posts, they were seen together outside the nest on Thursday the 15th.
Isolde was sitting in the nest on Sunday the 18th, but she was sitting high enough that her head could be seen at least once. But she then disappeared without my actually seeing her leave, which may or may not mean a lot.

Monday the 19th was the day that she was sitting in the nest 5 minutes after sundown.

Tuesday the 20th she was standing in the nest in an odd posture, which has made me wonder if she was laying an egg. Based on all that, I think they're running a schedule a week or so behind PM and Lola, and about the same as the Fordham hawks.

So I'm figuring hatching around April 26th.
Lovely of the hawks to possibly have staggered the hatches for us, isn't it?
Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

Please write to the park grounds manager about the rat poison. I think it is a Ms. Alvarez, but I forget.

Anonymous said...

The park manager of grounds keepers has been wonderful about attending to bird needs, and may not be aware of the poison. Regina Alvarez, if I recall, but I am away.

Donegal Browne said...

Regina Alvarez is Woodlands Manager. She does care about the birds and has been quite a help in the past. Perhaps a note expressing your concern about the rat bait and the hawks breeding season might be in order or a cordial request that like in some past seasons that it would be wonderful if the bait boxes were banished from hawk territories during breeding and fledging season once again.
Do keep in mind that Ms. Alvarez has a superviser and on up the line. She can only do so much if there is big pressure from the top about rats. The buck stops with the Central Park Conservancy and as they receive the rat complaints I'd say it would behoove us to make sure they heard from folks who express concern about the rat bait and concern for our famous hawks as well.

And while you're at it don't forget Isolde and Tristan up at St. Johns. The adjacent pigeon population there has gone from hundreds to less than a dozen, last I counted. People no longer feed up at the Cathedral as they once did therefore when the pigeon's human dispensed food supply dries up, so does the flock.

The Divines eat lots of rats and St. John's has bait boxes out.

Much more on all this in the next post up.