Saturday, March 10, 2007

45 Degrees in WI and the Fifth Ave. Hawk Report

45 degrees and the birds are on the move.

Suddenly the male Cardinals are vying for territory and singing every spare moment.
First berries then....

the Robins and Juncos forage with vigor for invertebrates during the thaw.

The Fifth Avenue Hawk Report from Katherine Herzog
HWY 59 Tiercel surveys a field abutting a subdivision
Dear Donna....just a few words about my short spell at the Hawk Bench:
Fri, March 9, '07--between 3:13 and 4:25pm (sunny, 30-F, windy)
Pale is doing it all while Lola is looking gorgeously "egg-nant" sitting on the nest most of the day...she has not laid eggs yet but must be very close....still sitting high on the nest, getting up to rearrange the twigs, getting the nest comfortable and secure.

They both took off for the Ramble at around 3:30, so I did too...and then I returned at 4:00 to see they were both on the nest. Then Pale dove down to one of the lower level terraces on Dr. Fisher's Bldg and retrieved a mouse for Lola's late afternoon snack at 4:25.

Pale continues to bring twigs to the nest, posts himself at or near the nest on neighboring buildings, and brings Lola various critters for nourishment. He seems to relish his purpose-driven-life!
It would be well to remember that during the last 2 years of Lola's egg laying...the weather turned brutally cold with driving snow. The weather for this weekend and the following week is forcast for light rain but much milder tempteratures than the below-freezing ones of the last couple of weeks....and not a snowflake in sight. Let's hope the third year (post-nest annihilation) may be the charm.

All the best, Katherine

Friday, March 09, 2007

Doings At The Fifth Avenue Nest, 2:50 to 4:14pm, Crow Tracks

Many thanks to Hawkwatcher and activist Katherine Herzog who sent in the latest news on Pale Male and Lola...

Hi Donna,

Today, Wed., 3/7/07, visited the Hawk Bench for a while....just before 3pm saw Lola land on the 5th Ave nest. Moments later Pale Male flew on the nest presenting her with a meal of rat. (Of course I'd prefer he give her a "Healthy Choice" meal of squirrel or pigeon...knowing that any rat in the area has a high probability of having consumed a lethal dose of poison which is then passed on to the hawks).

PM flew to the Linda Bldg for a few minutes then flew off as Lola finished off the rat and did some housekeeping...then she sat there, not scrunched down yet as she does when sitting on eggs, sitting high on the nest for about an hour...then after hearing some hawk/seagull-like vocalizations....saw her flying to the Linda Bldg and landed facing toward the window....PM comes flying to her and they vigorously mate....then he flies off and she returns to the nest.

At 21-degrees F, I take off with frozen feet and hands. By their behavior, I believe egg-laying will happen very soon..surely by week's end.
All the best, Katherine


On my way out to the goodie stump today, I was chagrined to see that the crows had slipped in without my seeing them, again. Also a bit mystified as there were three separate landing spots, three converging sets of crow tracks, but converging on what? Besides, did they all land and then stride onward or creep towards whatever it was in mass. An organized crow thing in case it was...what? Or is that how crows do anything that involves a measure of uncertainty? Or is that just how crows share. Everybody who's been invited paces themselves to arrive at the same time?

I'd say the tracks were made by three different crows. Far Right's feet are slightly bigger than Center's and Left weighs less than the other two.

The three sets of tracks converge on a spot that looks to have been excavated. An eatable of some sort?

Ham Sandwiches-Today's Crow Goodies, no takers as of sunset.
The Crows were elusive as usual but today, wonder of wonders here in the land of cheese and snow, I sighted my first Robins of the season. Three of them were busily eating berries off a Mountain Ash down the street. Spring may actually come-maybe.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Amorous Red-tail Vocalization

Tristan of the Cathedral Hawks
As the lunar eclipse was invisible in my locale in Wisconsin, I'd asked Robert Schmunk of how it had gone in NYC. He kindly responded with the added treat of a report on Tristan and Isolde, the Uptown Hawks.
Here's what he had to say,
Eclipse here was so-so. There was still too much light in the sky when it started so we didn't see it start. But we did watch it finish.

Today was very cold (Monday, DB), one of the the coldest days we had this past winter, with a low of 11 this morning. I went over to the Cathedral at 5:15 despite the cold and how late it was getting. Now I wonder how much attention the folks at St Luke's pay attention to what goes on outside their windows. Tristan and Isolde did the deed, so to speak, twice while I was there. They were on a branch no more than 15 feet from the 4th floor windows on the Morningside Drive side of the hospital. I didn't actually see the second event, as I was a block down the street, but it was pretty audible. I assume you've witnessed this sort of thing before with PM and Lola, but my reaction all three times that I have had in the past few days has been "sounds like gulls fighting".

Isolde may have even have roosted by the hospital for the night. She was still in the same spot when I left at 5:50. My gloves were not doing their job and I had to vacate. Low on Thursday is projected to be 7. That would be the coldest we've had this year if it happens.

As to copulating hawks sounding like gulls, absolutely. I thought exactly the same thing. When Pale Male and Lola are copulating on Fifth Avenue, you don't hear a thing if you're watching from the Hawk Bench. Now I'd noticed that Pale Male's beak was opening and closing during those moments. So two seasons ago I went up to the park wall across from the Linda Building, in hopes that I'd be able to hear if any vocalizations were being produced. Lola was sitting expectantly on the roof's corner so I thought I might have a chance to answer the question. Miraculously I hadn't been there five minutes when Pale Male cruised over to Lola, and sure enough, there was lots of noise and as you say, it sounds just like gulls.
When I reported vocalizations back then there were some who were downright skeptical. Thank you for the confirmation!. D.B.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Finally, a Cottontail.

It's 3 degrees F. currently but photo period seems to be doing it's work as I saw two Red-tails dancing this afternoon over a field on the edge of town. Not with the intensity that will occur later but still even in the Midwest the reproductive hormones are surging.

And speaking of reproductive hormones, I've been looking at rabbit tracks, traces of the traditional sex fiends, for weeks without once sighting a rabbit. There are a number of different sized tracks so there have to be a number of cottontails out there. Check out the tracks. Why haven't I seen them? I finally found out why.

Peeking out the back curtains at 2:30 this morning, I scared a very small cottontail out of his wits and out from under the bird feeder. So that's it. No dawn and dusk feeding for these guys. They browse in the wee hours. Well the Red-tails are roosting and I've not seen or heard much
in the way of owls. Though I hear a Great Horned nested up by St. Mary's Church last season, she's off on her winter vacation by now. Bunnies are no dummies, they're adaptable and eat when they're less likely to be eaten.

Visualize how rabbits actually perambulate. It's really odd when you think about it. They've the tiny legs and feet in the front and large heavily muscled legs in the back. So when they go forward at a run the big back legs cross past the little front ones and bong, the leap forward takes place. I'm thinking that the smaller front legs are instrumental in balance and as a kind of pivot in controlling the direction of the leap at the last second for evasive moves. See here, how there are two hops one direction and suddenly bunny has done a neat quarter turn during the third hop in the air and comes down cleanly in a new direction.

Look it's Rabbit scat. Actually I've never noticed the yellow snow, okay brown snow, created by bunnies before.

What happened here?

The two craters are probably from snow falling off the tree, but what about the two depressions on the edge of the drift that are definitely from feet?

I don't know how the creature got there unless they're from a bird.

Oh, come on! They're just the right size for a crow.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pale Male and Lola Hang Out

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber Saturday March 3, 2007
Eleanor just sent this photo taken with her remarkable little digital camera. Our local hawk royalty is sitting on Shipshape which means Eleanor was far, far, far. away from the birds when she snapped it. And no long lens, no less.
By the way what is this I hear about NYC having weather in the 50's on Saturday. I cannot tell you how envious I am. I'm beginning to think my snow boots are actually part of my feet.
Though there are some perks here. I did spotted three deer browsing in a snow covered field. Beautiful.
D. B.
(For more recent posts, click on Palemaleirregulars at the top of the page.)