Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Meadowlark, and Winkie's Cathedral Report

Isolde, Divine Mom of the Cathedral Red-tails perches herself on the most exposed place she can think of to tempt the hot button Kestrels away from her young.


I may have spoken too soon. Remember I said I hadn't seen any Brown-heading Cowbird young so perhaps they hadn't been successful in predating a nest.? Well five of the above Juvies appeared under the feeder today. And I'm thinking that Today's Mystery Bird is a Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater.

An Eastern Meadowlark literally filled with song. I can't quit thinking about the "gaping" adaptation. In this photo he's facing up, so just imagine him gaping so wide that his eyes come forward and he can see between his beak. The mind boggles, at least mine does.
And there is another nifty behavioral trait. Besides building a fascinating nest, Meadowlarks also construct a secret "run way", sometimes as long as four feet. Another use for that gape, as they use the widened beak to create almost a tunnel in the substrate for emergency ins and outs.

Betty Jo in Camarillo, Queen of the Avocados, (she sent some along last year and they were the best I've ever eaten), also nailed the nest...Meadowlark

Hi Dear Donna,

I couldn't answer last night, but I also thought meadow lark. I quote Erlich et al in "The Birder's Handbook""Meadowlark--'nest: In natural or scraped depressions; of coarse grass, lined with finer grass, hair. Domed canopy of grass bark, forbs interwoven with surrounding veg; opening on one side."However, it is difficult to tell from the picture just how tiny this is.
Great puzzle!

(Great description of the nest, thank you for finding it Betty Jo! D.B.)

Tristan on the urn of The Plant Pavilion.
Steadfast Palemaleirregularl Winkie and The Cathedral Hawks report.
Saturday: No signs of hawks around 10:00 am. Morningside Park all a buzz with equipment trucks for a big Park Party this afternoon. I can well imagine that all the extreme activity has not only the fledges, but also, Isolde and Tristan hiding somewhere safe.
So around 7:00 pm, I'm back with my binoculars trying to find the little guys again. Luck is with me.Viola! There's one fledge on the cross of the Eglise de Notre Dame. ( For those of you who don't know this church, it's on Morningside Drive and 114th St.) The light is gorgeous, but makes it hard to tell which one is on the cross. The setting sun gives such a beautiful glow to the little breast, but which fledge is it?
While this young hawk serenely surveys the realm of the tree topped ridge, I hear the chatter of disgruntled smaller birds. One by one, these smaller birds start to harass the young'n. This fledge is one of the calm ones: it's not bothered by these fly-by airborne theatrics. Then I see as the fledge turns that it is Third: just as confident as ever.
There is clearly nothing in his crop. I also see that these chatterers are starlings. Poor Third! No food and a bevy of birds about him this peaceful evening.I leave him to scout for the others. Just as I think I'm coming up dry and probably lost Third, too. I find another fledge on the cross of the cathedral's apse (i.e., St. Savior's Chapel, thanks to Rob I can identify these landmarks). At first it is hard to see the belly for markings. At first I think it is probably # One, Tailbiter. After more careful watching, I see a different level of attention. I twist my neck through the leaves of the London plane trees like a Slinky. Finally I get the right peep hole. It's my Cohort (Rob's Brownie). She does have a fully crop, so one of the parents has been around feeding. Reluctant to leave Cohort, I move on, but alas no one else to be found.
Hey! Two fledges in an outing isn't bad.By the time I get back. to the Eglise, Third has moved. Guess the starlings did get to him after all. He is sitting on the Plant Pavilion grill. Still no visible bulge in the crop. On that note I leave hoping that he still will get his evening feed.Sunday: My husband was on duty. Around 9:30am no sightings at all. But later, around 1:30pm he ran into someone with quite impressive camera equipment in Morningside Park. I can only guess that it was Lincoln. Lincoln had his scope trained on one of the fledges who was eating a pigeon in a tree. Sorry, my husband can't id these guys. (I'm fairly lucky he went out twice to look for the babies.)
The local ball players said that the young hawk flew into this particular tree carrying his meal. No one saw an adult for the drop-off. In fifteen minutes the young'n had made the pigeon almost disappear. Everyone was impressed by this gustatory feat. I really can't imagine that any of the tree are hunting successfully yet. These divine fledges this year have been amazing, so who knows!
Leaving this fledge to his(?) own devices, my husband left the park. Another fledge was sighted just behind the cathedral on a branch of one of the London plane tree. Maybe this was Cohort, as she seems to like the tree cover and the school grounds. This one was quiet and just preening.Again two babies, seen by surrogate eyes! Not bad for the day, as I came up empty at sundown.
(Many thanks Winkie for the report.)
Donegal Browne

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