Monday, June 18, 2007

THE FATHER'S DAY BATTLE OF THE BATH- Now with the captions.


PALE MALE-The original urban hawk Dad
Without him it's highly unlikely we'd have all those other urban hawk Dad's in NYC.
But as he and Lola are spending a quiet Father's day in the wilds of Central Park, and the others were busy dealing with their fledglings and unavailable for comment, we're going to look at some other long suffering Dads. One who would give anything for a nice quiet private bath...
Stealth Robin- Remember him? The Dad Robin of this territory. He's the one who hid in the grass and flew at rivals from behind instead of the usual male Robin bombing down from the trees technique. Today he may well have wished he'd never gone to the trouble. Mom Robin doesn't appear in the piece because she began to brood the third clutch today. Leaving Dad to feed the five that just fledged off the nest, plus deal with the five previous "teen" Robins from the first clutch. Dad is the only mature Robin to appear in the piece.
TEEN ROBIN-He is perfectly capable of feeding himself but being the baby of the previous clutch he feels Dad should feed him anyway. Dad has other ideas. As large as Dad, with fewer spots and more red on his anterior than the new batch of fledglings.
Five Baby Fledglings-Mom isn't around so they have been mobbing Dad since dawn for food, following him everywhere. Then one decides to take a bath.
Friend- The first Mourning Dove to make an appearance for a drink from the bath. He is Doorstep Dove's mate. He backs up Doorstep when she comes in for a drink.
Doorstep Dove- She is the second Mourning Dove to appear. She comes to the bird bath for a drink and gets one.

THE SCENARIO: Stealth Robin Dad harried by his progeny endlessly, desperately wants a bath by mid-afternoon. It is an extremely hot, dry, day. The ground is dry and hard, making worm hunting not as easy as it might be. He has dust up to his eyeballs. (It becomes a piece of cake later in the day when people water their gardens so everyone will get enough to eat today, but the bulk will come later, though not through any lack of trying on Dad's part earlier in the day.) By mid-afternoon Dad Robin just can't take it anymore and he decides he must escape his children and have a bath. But nothing is easy for Dad.

1:52:57 PM Long suffering Dad Robin has been surrounded to the point where he's had to hop flap over his youngsters to even get a chance to hunt. Here he is having flown halfway, heading across the yard with the fledglings making a dash after him.

1:57:34PM One stopped by on the way for a quick plunge in the bird bath.

1:58:07PM Friend zooms in from the side for a drink and flushes the youngster off the edge. Momentary possession of the bird bath is a satisfying one up on the bird that was there first. Besides with the heat he is undoubtedly very thirsty.

They young Robin not only has been ousted but is at a momentary loss--where did Dad go?

2:00:52PM Dad on the other hand is back by the garden again and is being bugged by a member of the older brood who is able to feed himself but knows it's ever so much easier if Dad will do it.

2:05:06PM What? Not even a scrap? Dad marches over in search of more worms.

2:05:20PM Teen Fledge stands and watches as Dad heads for the younger fledglings.

2:05:37PM Dad is surrounded again with the little bottomless pits. Note the dirt all over Dad's face.

2:05:47PM Heading off again, he looks back, (sigh), they're still there.

2:44:27PM Teen Fledgling checks out the water and jumps in for a bath.

2:45:20PM Dad the Stealth Robin, see beak far right edge of photo, whips in, perhaps as a training exercise in vigilance and Teen Robin leaps out so fast he leaves his splash behind.

2:45:42PM Dad reconnoiters the area, and wades in for the initial beak splashes and a face wash.

2:47:22PM Now for the rest.

2:47:32 PM Doorstep Dove whistles in for a drink and Dad jumps at her. She whips off.

He begins to lean in...

And it's the headfirst plunge.

Ah, that was good but not for long.

2:48:27PM Doorstep is back. He menaces her. She threatens him with the female Dove's ultimate weapon, the mighty wing bat. (I've had it done to me. Not only is it amazingly startling because it's faster than one can see, but it smarts, it's a true blow, and he's a lot smaller than I am. I've seen a female pigeon bat a male who was bugging her off the terrace railing on the 27th floor without even looking his way. He was so shocked that he was halfway to the ground before he could even get his wings spread. That dove soft breast is all muscle.)

Dad starts a slow wade towards Doorstep.

2:48:37PM She waits until he's close enough and then bats him off the bowl. She watches him go and waits.

2:48:27PM Dad salvages his wounded vanity and he's back on the edge of the bowl. In the meantime, behind Doorstep on the edge of the garden, Friend, her mate stands. Waiting to see if she needs back up. Doorstep tenses her wings just so Dad Robin knows what might happen, then leans down for a long drink. Dad Robin waits. Doorstep satiated. Flies off with Friend in tow.

2:49:12PM Dad tries it again. Suddenly a crow caws overhead and Dad is off the bowl alert and onto the stump, around which most of his youngest are gathered.

There he stands, a moist somewhat bedraggled sentinel.

2:51:30PM And in the meantime, another one of his progeny has jumped into the bath.

And is enjoying himself immensely.
2:51:53PM Okay, last straw. Dad can't take it anymore. It's his turn to take a bath. He whips and gives the fledgling "the look".

2:52:02PM Being a polite fledgling and also knowing what's good for him, the youngster takes off. Dad hits the water and finally is left in peace long enough to finish his ablutions.

2:52:52PM Done, Dad hops to the edge for a few moments of leisure while drying his feathers in the sun. Though it's a very warm day Mom Robin wouldn't dare leave her freshly laid clutch uncovered to help Dad out. Why?

The Female Cowbird also frequents the area and as far as I've seen the parasitic Cowbird pair has not successfully laid in another species nest as yet.

The young Chipping Sparrow waits stoically for only a moment. While her father shucks seeds as fast as he can. For he knows she will be down next to him any second with a gaping mouth and making the Chipping beg--an amazingly strange whirring sound.

4:24PM Dad Indigo Bunting races in for a quick meal before continuing his chores.

And even at deep dusk,

Nuthatch Dad is out foraging for his family

GOOD NIGHT DADS. Get some sleep, dawn comes early around here.
Donegal Browne

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