Sunday, June 03, 2007

Marie Winn Comments

Tristan flies to the nest in the rain with dinner for the eyasses, but before feeding them, Isolde and Tristan take a moment to look at their family together. (Dare I say, took a moment to admire their family?)

As it's raining Isolde is still on the nest, (See the portion of her face just behind Andrew's head?)but Tristan has started feeding. He's in that perpendicular feeding position that gives it away every time. And Little Tail-biter is going for Dad's feathers again. (This is one of the moments that made me wonder if there was a third eyass. Tristan is having to lean very far down into the nest to feed someone and the other two eyasses didn't require that depth at their current sizes. )

The wonderful writer and original hawk watcher Marie Winn, author of Red-tails In Love, and the blog mentioned on her website that it is Red-tail mom's who do the feeding of the young, I then responded---

Marie wrote,

Donna Browne sent the interesting note below enlarging on my comment [a few days ago] that among Red-tails only the Mom feeds the chicks. I was talking specifically about when they have to be fed beak to beak. I assume Donna's talking about that too.

(Yes I was talking about beak to beak as she surmised. Next down find my email to Marie from her blog on Mom's feeding and below that, Marie's P.S. concerning the post on this site about Central Park Bunnies. And next down my clarification on CP Bunnies in another email to her. Whew! You got that? D.B.)

In regards to male Red-tails feeding, I'd say you're correct 99% of the time, but this year in particular, Tristan of the Cathedral Hawks has done at least the evening feeding all days that I've watched.

On one day in particular, see "Tag Team Feeding", perhaps due to the three fledglings needs, Isolde fed, then after she left the nest, Tristan arrived in under two minutes and also fed.

Isolde appears to do hunting for the fledglings as well. For instance while Tristan is stalking rats not far from the nest and therefore available for guard duty if necessary, Isolde will take off for Morningside Park and return with a pigeon. She must scope the prey out before hand because she usually isn't gone long at all before returning with dinner.

Charlotte of the Southern Hawks, would occasionally hunt for herself during this phase if she didn't approve of Junior's dinner offering but I never saw her hunt for the eyasses. In that family, food for the kids came from Junior. And it's my understanding, though you'd know better than I, that Pale Male was the prime hunter for his mate and eyasses.

The Cathedral Hawks, though I did see Tristan feed once or twice last year, are doing things quite differently this season in that Tristan feeds daily. It's another example of the nifty adaptability of the species. (Isolde did look utterly exhausted there for awhile and was too tired to even preen. Tristan took her a pigeon to feed the young one evening, laying it beside her. She just looked at him from her spot on the hospital chimney, bags under her eyes, feathers completely rumpled. Tristan dutifully picked the pigeon back up, flew to the nest, and fed the brood.)

When I began to notice Tristan's frequent feeding I started looking into how prevalent it might be and asked Jeff Kollbrunner of the Queen's Hawk Cam about his pair. The answer: Male feeding is very infrequent with that pair as well.

Not unlike humans at their best, each Red-tail pair seems to adapt and create a system that works for them. I like that a lot.

PS from Marie:
In regard to Donna's posting on her blog in which John Blakeman suggested that the identity of Central Park's rabbits is not what we think it is: John Blakeman's statement to the contrary notwithstanding, my understanding is that the species of rabbit in Central Park IS Eastern Cottontail. It is listed in the 1984 Central Park Wildlife Inventory[John Hecklaw], though that list has proved to be wrong about quite a number of listings. Might be worth checking with the American Museum of Natural History...I don't really know what the European Hare looks like, but a few years ago I saw a rabbit with a distinctly white cottontail in the Shakespeare Garden. That rabbit lived in the garden for several years...and it was the bane of the zone gardener's existence since it regularly dined on a number of her favorite plantings. I happen to know that that particular rabbit is dead now, and don't know if there are others in CP.

Note: It may be that cottontails can survive in the Shakespeare Garden because dogs are strictly forbidden there.
Marie, may well be right about the Cottontail's survival and the banishment of dogs to the area.
As I was afraid I hadn't been clear in my blog about the European Hares getting into Central Park by human intervention and that Cottontails are the native bunny that would normally be there, I sent Marie this clarifying email which might clarify what I was saying for readers as well.
Hi Marie,

I most probably wasn't clear about the CP bunnies. My original question was why wasn't there a breeding population of rabbits in Central Park. Even if the original population had been extirpated for some reason, why hadn't a new population begun? Particularly as I supposed that like other parks, people released unwanted grown up Easter present rabbits when they no longer wanted them. Blakeman was saying that pet trade rabbits are actually European Hares because it is illegal to have Cottontails. European Hares are domesticated and therefore most likely not up to being on their own in Central Park for very long.

I didn't know about the Shakespeare rabbit, thank you for the information. As Shakespeare Bunny was a Cottontail, if wild and not released by someone who wasn't supposed to have her in the first place, perhaps she made her way to the park on her own as have most likely the Turkey, the Red Squirrel, the coyote, the bear, and the sporadic deer visitors.

By the way, does Central Park have any resident exclusive eaters of grass and plants in their herbivores. I can think of quite a number of seed, nut, and tree bud eaters but I can't think of a grass/leafy plant eater.

Coming Soon: I found a photo in which Tristan's eyes are quite clear and they look rather light to me for a completely mature Red-tail. Could he be younger than we thought he was? Now Lola's eyes in the right light are lighter than most mature Red-tails as well, though not as light as Tristan's are currently. Perhaps he got a portion of his reputed father's fair coloring and his mother's light eyes.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

I have bunny visitors in my yard here in Rhode Island. I think they are a self-sustaining population, since there have been bunnies here for at least decades, and we are in quite an isolated rural area on a peninsula. I just took a look at one munching away on a broad leaved something or other in the "lawn," and I don't see a white tail. I have never noticed a white tail on any of them. I know there is at least one hawk around, and the occasional dog or cat roams by.

karen anne said...

Wrong on my part. There was a bunny out in the walkway today, a rare occurrence, as I normally see them in the grass. Definitely a white tail. Hmm, so it only takes a few inches of grass to hide the white tail on a resting or nibbling bunny.

Donegal Browne said...

Karen Anne,

One can't always see the cotton tail. It's most obvious when the rabbit is hoppity hopping in the o ther direction with some speed on. But that said, not long ago, I was standing outside the garage where my oil was being changed. Actually the car's oil, not my oil, and there was a big buck bunny grazing in the yard of an adjacent house. This was a big brown bunny and he wasn't a Cottontail. Now that I'm tuned in, this guy was definitely a Hare. My assumption was that he or an ancestor of his was a pet. He seemed to be doing just fine. But I'm also assuming that this area was not a high predator area like Central Park or that some Hares are just particularly clever and are able to survive in the wild if things aren't too skewed in their disfavor.

Some years ago I was doing summerstock in upstate NY and a domestic rooster lived in the woods behind the theatre. One just doesn't see wild self-sustaining chickens but this one, from report, had been around for a number of years.

In biology one can never say never, as there is always an individual who will prove you wrong.

It would be interesting to know if there is a breeding population or hybrid population of non-indigenous rabbits somewhere in the country.

Keep your eye peeled for a family.