Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Any Day Now? A Report From the Bench

Different? It often strikes me afresh just how different or similar an individual of a group is from another while in the same category. They're both birds in the photos. They're both males. They both can fly. They have feathers and wings and sharp toenails and strong beaks and expandable tails. There is a size difference. One little, one big. And one sings and one doesn't. Or does he?
Does Pale Male sing? The first thought is a resounding no as the immediate sound that comes to mind is the famous battle cry, Kreeeee. But perhaps we shouldn't rush into anything. Charlotte made little soothing purrs...coos...little somethings to her eyasses. Then again, I suppose it all depends on the definition of song. Alright, how about a courting vocalization? Female parrots are often wooed by beaus vying to produce the most complex vocalizations. When it comes to raptors there is the Screech's trill. Might not Pale Male like so many male birds endear himself to Lola in early spring with a quiet little something?
The Report From the Bench.
In answer to your question, no, I haven't seen any kind of digging with the feet by either hawk within the center depression of the nest. I also haven't seen anything I'd call egg turning either. Yesterday and today there was an instance of an adult dipping his or her head into the center depression of the nest, tail in the air, but no noticeable shifting of the head as one tends to see in inducing a "roll" to turn an egg.
As for today, when the male and female changed nest duties, it was a very rapid in and out and then off the nest. I began to wonder as yesterday had the same windy moist weather that the increased pace occurred perhaps because of the increased number of people, that by late afternoon, had appeared on quite a number of terraces. I'm assuming as it wasn't exactly balmy out and they were facing the nest, that the viewers were there to watch the hawks. The hawks saw all those eyes turned in their direction and as you've said they've done when helicopters fly over, the birds felt a need to cover the nest contents. Of course, I'm just musing as I've no evidence one way or the other.
One exception, Lola at 3:43pm took off to the north before her replacement arrived on the nest. In less than two minutes Pale Male did land and cover the nest. Pale Male was being attacked by a Kestrel at the time so perhaps Lola felt the need to go after it. Pale Male then curved round and took over the nest. I noted that one of Pale Male's eyes looked marginally squeezed shut when he took over (See Photo), and wondered if he had sustained an injury and that was the reason Lola waded in to help but the slitted eye may be a momentary aberration caused by a twig or nothing at all as I didn't note it later. There were three other nest exchanges which as I said were in, out, and off in a quick sequence before 6pm.
I did not see any prey being eaten but I suspect Pale Male had left food hidden for Lola and she ate it out of sight as her crop expanded during the afternoon.
The temperature was in the 40s, high gusty wind, cloudy, with some rain. By the way it looks like a good portion of the earth to say nothing of the mulch in Central Park has come off the high ground and is now in the walkways and in the Conservatory Water. I'm told on Sunday the Mallards were swimming outside The Boat House and I don't mean on the lake side. They were swimming to the north in the area that is ordinarily the walkway.
And for those in the city, I understand that the loons are still in residence for anyone who haven't seen them yet and still would like to look them up.
Best regards,
Ludmilla Stern
Many thanks for the report!
Donegal Browne

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