Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Divine Eyass at Picnic Rock, Location Repeats Season to Season, and Suburban Bald Eagles.

Photograph by Rob Schmunk
Hit the link below for yet more of Rob's great photos of the Divines, along with his full reports.

Is this the same bird in these two photographs? I do think it is. (Look at the crop above. It's bulging; this birdie is well fed.)

Photograph by Nobu Urushiyama

Nobu-san an astute hawkwatcher from the Divine's neighborhood discovered the eyass on Picnic Rock around 7PM on the 27th. She was finishing her evening meal. Last year this spot was a favorite food drop and according to Rob Schmunk of so it is again.

I wasn't sure which eyass Nobu-san had found so I shot off an email to Rob and he shot back that it looked like Third/Runt. If you look at her now, she doesn't look very runt like to me. She was just the youngest so for awhile she seemed visibly smaller than the other two. She may be a he as well, which also would account for a smaller size.

I thought it interesting that a food drop from last season was being used once again this year. Then Rob sent me his sightings from yesterday and today and once again another spot, a thick branch near the 111th street overlook in Morningside Park, that had been used by the eyasses last season was being used once again.

Rob found my post so I'd know the place exactly. It was wonderful to look back and realize how well Isolde and Tristan have done the last two seasons when it comes to raising young. To see the location and eyass attempting to get the squirrel...quite unsuccessfully, (It's okay, his parents are still feeding him.) Click the link .

This was one of my favorite days. The eyass was honing her young hunting skills and had graduated from "killing" rocks and sticks to actually trying for a squirrel. Little did the eyass know that nabbing a squirrel in a tree is nearly impossible unless two hawks double team it. Otherwise when the hawk gets close the squirrel just whips under or around the branch to the other side. Which a sitting Red-tail just can't do nearly as quickly as a squirrel can.

And here are the sightings Rob kindly sent for your enjoyment.

I'd asked him if the eyasses were becoming hard to find as yet.

He answered---

I'm out of practice, and they've left the chapel rooftops for the park.

Yesterday (Friday):First one found at 7:00 asleep in a tree near 112th St. overlook, after I'd been through that area twice.

Seriously, I mean asleep. She was perched with her head leaning over right shoulder, eyes closed. She didn't budge for well over five minutes, and then slowly started sleep-preening.

Second one found when I was down by the ball fields and looked up and saw a weird wiggle in a tree overhead. Considering the light (it was close to 8:00 and overcast), this was pure luck.

Third one found when I was checking on the first one and another flew up and perched in the next tree over. This might have been second one moving to new position but I think not.

In all this, there had been slow but consistent robin scolding which I could never pin down. This might have been about the second fledge but more likely the third. I say that because...Today(Saturday)...A lot of robin scolding between 110th St and 11th St.

On second walk along path in this area and ten minutes of checking treetops, found fledgling perched directly over path. Same branch where we saw one perch a couple times last year, but much farther out. This was Runt.

Second one found without help from robins. In same tree and perhaps same branch as I found second yesterday. Again, I just happened to look up, but the light was a lot better.

Did not see a third today. So, must pay more attention to the robins.


Many thanks to W.A. Walters for The New York Times Article

Red-tails in the Cities, and Eagles in the Burbs, whatever will happen next?


Bald Eagles, whose numbers dwindled to historic lows in the early 1960s, are again flourishing and no longer need the protections of the Endangered Species Act, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced Thursday.

(Well, we'll see about that now won't we? D. B.)

Here in Florida, bald eagles have thrived for a decade, multiplying to a statewide population of 1,150 breeding pairs and giving this state, with Minnesota, bragging rights as the top eagle haven in the country.

Bald eagles, aloof centurions of the wild, seem to have discovered their inner Updike and moved to Florida’s ever-expanding suburbs. They can be found nesting in cellphone towers and raising chicks near landfills and airport runways, along highways and high up in the pine trees of the state’s upscale developments.

Here, some people see the birds as part mascot, part amenity — and a thorough blessing.
“We’ll be in our backyard, floating in the pool, and see these beautiful winged creatures flying over us,” said Anne Lubner, an interior decorator who lives in the Grey Oaks subdivision, a gated community in Tarpon Springs.

A neighbor, Patti Schuman, said she returned home from dinner with her husband 15 months ago to find a frightened fledgling, with a seven-foot wingspan, cowering by the front door after falling — or being pushed — from its nest. “It hunkered down in a corner next to a plant” until experts took it back near the nest, Ms. Schuman said.

Her neighborhood follows with intense interest the eagles’ spring rituals of flight training and the daily rituals of feeding and bathing. The only thing required of residents — in return for feeling that they are living in a National Geographic special — is a willingness to tolerate the odd fish skeleton on the lawn, or the occasional white pile on the drive.

In Florida, home to about 12 percent of all eagles in the lower 48 states, the question is no longer whether these birds can cope with development and commotion, but how much is too much?
As John White, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said, “No way is development going to stop” in central Florida. “The question is, Are the birds going to be able to handle that new level of adaptation? We don’t know.”

Biologists, after recovering from the initial shock of finding eagles in the suburbs, have documented in a six-year study that suburban birds breed as well as their rural counterparts. But the young birds have slightly higher mortality, thanks to ill-timed meals of roadkill or too-comfortable seats on power lines.

But what the birds’ proven adaptability means for their future management, in Florida and around the country, remains a matter of debate. The arguments and lawsuits over the appropriate management of bald eagles in a post-endangered era had kept the final ruling on their status delayed since 1999.

Property-rights advocates have argued in court that restrictions on the use of eagle-occupied land should be loosened; conservationists have countered that eagles still need buffers against the hubbub of humanity. Mr. Kempthorne’s announcement was timed to meet a deadline stemming from a lawsuit by a Minnesota property owner.

This month, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intention to continue to prohibit activities — like running a bulldozer — that are likely to make eagles abandon their nests or interrupt their normal activities. Nesting pairs in the lower 48 had rebounded to about 9,700 by April , from 417 in 1963, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mr. Kempthorne, speaking in Washington at the Jefferson Memorial with a squawking bald eagle tethered nearby, promised that “from this point forward, we will work to ensure that the eagle never again needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.”

He said protections that would remain in place included monitoring bald eagle populations and ensuring that no new poison begins to decimate their numbers as DDT once did. Conservation groups, like EagleWatch, a Florida group operated by Lynda White from the Audubon Society’s Center for Birds of Prey, based in Orlando, help with that effort.

Ms. White said she believed that some developers, usually resentful of the land-use limitations that accompany an eagle’s nest, now see the bird as a marketing tool. “If that gets the birds more of a conservation area, that’s great,” she said.
Tony Steffer, a Tampa-based biologist who has worked for developers and for the state, said he believed in the eagles’ resilience. “If eagles were thin-skinned, there wouldn’t be an eagle in the United States,” Mr. Steffer said.

But the birds are too opportunistic for some people’s taste. Inadvertent landlords, including utility companies, cellphone companies and airports, are dubious about their tenants. The Orlando-Sanford Airport got unwelcome publicity this spring when it cut down four eagle-occupied trees as threats to aviation; biologists say the birds will just find new homes nearby.
But the tall pines they prefer are fewer and farther between. At the same time, more and more manufactured towers are available.

Pointing to a nest on a 100-foot electricity-transmission tower in southern Seminole County, Mr. White said: “They like heights, they love an open field, and there’s a lake nearby. It’s got everything they want, except for the 450,000 volts coursing through it.”

Need to know more? 50% off home delivery of The Times

Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

"odd fish skeleton on the lawn."

I live near the water, and the seagulls drop shellfish on the roof to presumably break them open. So I'm sitting inside the house and I hear thump, roll, roll, roll quite a bit. Oh, yes, it's "the people upstairs" :-) Plus "skeletons" mostly of crabs on the lawn and deck. I had no idea there were that many crabs in the water here, I certainly don't remember seeing that many when I went swimming a lot as a kid.

I will now spoil the idyllic picture by saying I don't go swimming any more, because as the boat traffic in Wickford harbor has increased, so has the pollution. It used to affect just the harbor, now it has spread out into the cove. Apparently it is too much trouble or expense for someone who owns a zillion dollar yacht to use the onshore facilities to empty out their sewage when they can just dump it in the cove instead.