Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Divine Trio Thanks to Ludie Stearn and the Decorum of Arriving, Departing, and Flapping

Looking at Mom and Dad perched on the urn on the roof of The Plant Pavilion.

The Divine Trio survey the landscape and triangulate like crazy.

From report, fledging isn't imminent. Not nearly enough flapping and hopping going on as yet.
Or, though I've not known it to necessarily stop flapping, there is a limited amount of vertical room on the Cathedral nest with three youngsters in residence. But perhaps like Little of the 2004 Trump Parc Nest (Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte), who did very limited amounts of flapping and hopping compared to Big, his sister, when he could no longer stand spending his day mostly alone on the nest, he sailed off the nest perfectly and cruised to a dandy landing on an adjacent rooftop, smooth as silk, and never looked back.

Lack of room may also explain why Isolde either waited until well after dark or perhaps even spent the night off the nest, though very close at hand, as soon as the eyasses lost their early down. While Charlotte, with plenty of room on the Trump Parc nest corbel, spent every night on the nest until Little, the younger eyass fledged.


Mature hawks follow certain "safety" measures on a nest. While on the nest near young, they will often keep their talons curled under. When a hawk is arriving or departing the hawk who is remaining on the nest will hunch down and keep their heads out of the way of any mischance with the moving hawks wing or talon if the action is close by. Though instead of turning their heads entirely the other direction protecting their eyes, a passive move, they continue to watch the departing hawk. Perhaps to be ready to take evasive action if a strong gust of wind or other anomaly occurs but also to make sure they know exactly where their mate is going.

Eye contact between a bonded pair is a major mechanism of their partnership. When out of visual contact with each other beyond certain time frames, the expression and body language of the hawk sitting the nest will turn from concentrated alertness to a look of concern and restlessness.

When one hawk wishes to communicate with the other from afar that hawk will circle. If Pale Male leaves prey for Lola to eat on her break from the nest, and the stash point is some distance away, he will circle above it until he's sure she's seen the spot. If she's particularly hungry or needs to defecate she will come off the nest like a shot and Pale Male will have to flap to the nest with speed to take her place. I've never seen Charlotte leave without Junior in place while brooding but I have seen Isolde exit either to hunt or pick up stashed prey latter in the process before Tristan arrives. (Due to the visual difficulties of the nest site, whether it's hunting or pick up or both depending is something we haven't sussed out as yet.) Just another example of the differences worked out by different pairs.

Eyasses, as soon as they have some control over their bodily movements, begin the Red-tail evasive actions. And a good thing too. For they are then well practiced by the time the strong urge to flap and hop leads to many incidents of whipping wings and erratic talons due to uncontrolled movement as they come closer and closer to their first flights.

Donegal Browne

Friday, June 08, 2007

Speaking of Tails That Pull the Eye

What about these famous tails? Why is a Red-tailed hawk's tail red and their youngsters aren't?

Quicksilver's tail is the one that made me start thinking seriously about sharply contrasting tails and their purpose in the first place. I've often wondered why the red tail? A Grey Parrot in a leafed out tree completely disappears in the shadows except for that bright red tail. I considered it as a possible flower motif. It certainly draws the eye onto the hind most end of the bird and African Greys are prey as well as possible predators. (When Quicksilver was three months old he would jump on his toys and mantle them. Though no one has managed to see anything like that in the wild so far.)

Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Here are some examples of the White-tailed Deer tail. (Besides I couldn't resist the leap.) When a deer is alarmed it "flags" its tail. The tail flips straight up exposing it's bright white underside. It attracts the eye to the absolute rear of the animal reducing the chance of a successful pounce.

Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
A second bonus. It's proposed that a doe's white flashing tail when she's on the run helps her fawn to follow her.
And now back to Bunnies---
Christopher Walters who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, in a two story apartment complex in the middle of town, noticed a strange thing in his yard on the way across from the parking lot. Some matted grass in a roughly circular shape. Something was going on. He went over and moved the mat aside with a stick. What should he discover? A rabbit nest. And in it, as he said, "A daisy of baby bunnies". Six of them, all noses to the center all white cottontails to the outside of the circle. So even in the nest, Cottontail Rabbits are wired to show that flash of white first to a predator.
By the way, Christopher carefully put the mat back in place and the bunnies grew up successfully. In fact one of the little guys has since taken up residence in the hedge.
Donegal Browne

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hawk Cam Nest is Bare-They've Fledged!

Hawkcam Mama and Papa's eyasses have fledged. The first on May 31st and the second on June 5th.
See Http:// for more information by their watcher of many years, Hawk Cam Master Jeff Kollbrunner.
And yes, one did take a walk in the street just like Tristan and Isolde's eldest did last season.
(We're still waiting for Ludie Stern's report on the Cathedral Red-tail Family. I'll post it as soon as it comes in. D.B.)

Finally, An Indigo Bunting

Now I didn't say I had a good picture of the Indigo Bunting but holey moley I finally saw one. Easier to see through the vine climbing up the trellis with the eye than focusing the camera through it but, you say, what's the big deal anyway? It's not like it's an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
I know. I know. Indigo Buntings are found all over the country. Not as prevalent as say, a Cardinal, but still, most everyone who watches birds has seen one at some time or other. And a lot of people who don't even watch birds have seen them.
Not me, until today.
I rather brought it upon myself, I suppose. The first time I opened a field guide, I saw that brilliantly blue colored bird, and said, " OOOOOH! I want to see one of those."
Talk about jinxing yourself.
So I've searched for them and found all sorts of even rarer birds, but then it started to become a "thing". For instance, now this has happened three years in a row, someone will come rushing up to the Hawk Bench and say, "There's an Indigo Bunting in the maintenance meadow." I'll drop everything and run off. But when I get there, no Indigo Bunting. Then later another birder will arrive at the Bench, "There's an Indigo Bunting in the maintenance meadow..."
But that's okay, doesn't matter a bit, because I just looked out, and he's back. The big deal? The big deal is how beautiful he is.
Donegal Browne
P.S. Ludie Stearn has promised a report on the Cathedral nest and it's just about to fledge eyasses very soon. Maybe even later today.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bountiful Tuesday

Guess who? That's right it is Doorstep and Friend's fledgling. I glanced up into the trees today and there was Doorstep and Friend sitting less than an inch from each other, both staring fixedly into the garden. I looked at the garden and there was their fledge snuggled into the garden dirt, which matched her feathers rather well, basking in the sun as if she were a little bit of dirt herself. And there she stayed dozing for some hours.

At 6:30 PM I almost had a heart attack when the resident Cooper's Hawks zipped through the yard carrying something brownish grey in his talons with smaller birds in pursuit. I followed the free-for-all for a quarter mile without another glimpse of the Cooper's prey. Then I lost sight of her altogether. When I arrived back at the yard, thankfully there were Doorstep and Friend with Little Bit on the roof of the house. They took to the air and while Doorstep chased Little Bit to the Spruce across the street, where I assume she roosted, Friend did a major aerial display of banks and turns gleaming in the red glow of the sinking sun.

(Yes, I know the Cooper's family has to eat too. And 6:30PM is about the time Dad should be bringing in the dinner for the evening feeding. But I admit it. Selfish of me, I know. But I much prefer that a hawk's dinner be someone that I don't know personally. It's ever so much easier to know which side to be on.)

From CP photographer Eleanor Tauber:The joyous Red-wing in Central Park. Well he ought to be joyous, he's one of the number of Red-wings who has learned that some visitors to their territory arrive with handfuls of peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Mom Robin tends the the first hatchlings of the second nest.

While Dad, remember Stealth Robin who hid in the grass to attack rivals instead of flying down at them from above, shepards the last unemancipated fledgling from the first brood of the season around the yard.

This pair nests in a large Maple. A Maple that is used by every squirrel in the neighborhood as the nearest tree to the bird feeder in the back yard. They walk the branches from tree to tree, then down the maple's trunk, and make a run across open ground for the feeder. (Hawks aren't good at getting squirrels while they're in trees, but they're right handy to grab on the ground. ) Well, this Robin couple attacks any squirrel that attempts to lay a furry foot on their tree. They dive from above and actually make contact with the squirrels heads. Needless to say, after the first or second try the squirrels often decide to traverse the roof of the house instead of the Robin's tree.

Also from Eleanor Tauber, a male House Sparrow collects feathers for his nest in Central Park.

Hermione the baby Raccoon. Three to four weeks old and teething. I took care of her yesterday while her rehabber had other business. She eats kitten replacement milk out of a baby bottle and makes the most amazing variety of chitters and purrs. She was "found" by a family who, when the DNR told them to put her back where they found her, tried to stuff her into the cavity of a tree in the middle of Milton...not where they found her at all. She's unable to walk let alone feed herself. Some people...

But there is a happy ending. There she is now, warm, full, and sleeping.
You gotta love that little palm, covered with the softest leathery skin, and tipped with the tiniest sharpest set of black claws you've ever seen.

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pale Male and Lola's Nest--What's Wrong?

As you know and have no doubt done yourselves, since the first failure of Pale Male and Lola's nest three seasons ago, we have sliced, diced, and discussed to death just what may have been going wrong. With each ensuing year as depression and a feeling of helplessness ensued, various theories have been expounded and various fixes from major overhauls to minor tweaks have been thrown into the pot. From the first, John Blakeman intuitively felt it was something to do with the spikes in the bowl and here is his email and graphic explaining his very good theory to the rest of us. Testing the theory would be minor and non-intrusive compared with other fixes that have been brought forward.

On the attached drawing, where I've pasted some cradle and nest photos on my CAD program, I've shown the now-known height of the spikes with a red line. On the lower two frontal shots of the nest, I've drawn a white, egg-sized ellipse, situated at the hawk's feet.

Drawing A was the one photo I recalled, but couldn't find anywhere. Donna found it and sent it to me. It's the revelatory Rosetta Stone. It's very clear that the top of the spikes extend at least as high as tips of the thick metal bars that extend out over the front edge. I've drawn a red line showing the spike tip elevation. The location (the red line) is conservative. Notice that the tips extend slightly above the drawn line.

Drawings B and C indicate the spike tips, again with a red line. The location of an egg is shown with the white ellipse. I've placed it on the hidden surface upon which the hawk's feet are standing. This, too, is conservative. The egg-bearing surface may be an inch or so lower, bringing the egg even further down onto the pigeon spike tips, especially if the hawk happens here to be standing on the higher rim of the nest at the back, not in the lower central bowl.

For me, there is no doubt that the eggs rested directly on spike tips, thereby restricting proper rotation and allowing the cold metal spikes to conduct heat away from the warm eggs in March.

In the pre-cradle nests, the eggs might have also rested on the spikes, but they were fully enclosed with insulating nest lining all the way down to the cornice surface. Much less heat could have been wicked way as none of the spikes' surface then was directly exposed to the late winter air. With the cradle, cold air continuously surrounds the open metal base of the elevated cradle and the attached pigeon spikes. Any conducted heat easily escapes downward along the spikes, through the insulating nest lining, out to the cold air beneath. A reduction of just one or two degrees (eggs are incubated at about 100 degrees F) will kill the young embryo.

That's it. I rest my case.

John A. Blakeman

Those building and approving the carriage never thought about this as they'd never built a carriage for a Red-tail Hawk nest before. To my knowledge, no one in the world had built one so there was no prototype that had been tested previously to get the "bugs" out.

This is the prototype. So we may need to try and fix a few bugs as per usual with the first of anything.

Therefore, what to do to get this particular "bug" out? A ten minute job. Sometime before next hawk season, the spikes in the bowl of the nest, need to be clipped off. That's it. Thereby getting rid of the contact with all that metal in the carriage that is siphoning heat away from the eggs.

There we are.

Donegal Browne

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

Blakeman Comes Through With a Falconer's Take on Why Bunny Tails Are White

Tristan hunts. Photo: Donegal Browne
How would Manhattan's Red-tails fare against the evolutionary adaptation of the flashing white tail of a bunny?
I'd looked around for the answer to my question about what advantage the bright white tail of prey animals had when it comes to eluding predators without finding many explanations taken from the field, but a good bit of theorizing. As I'd hoped John Blakeman comes through and shares his hands on or should I say talons on experiences below with an excellent answer that sounds spot on.

The marked visibility of the white tail of the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (and several other closely related species) is noted by everyone who sees these fleet animals run off.

Field biologists have certainly pondered the selective advantages given to a rabbit possessed of such an attention-drawing feature. It would certainly seem that a rabbit without any bright-colored body feature, a purely brown animal, would have a far better chance of avoiding a predator’s detection, especially as it runs to escape a pursuit.

As a falconer who has hunted cottontails extensively with my trained red-tailed hawks I've watched the dynamics of all of this first hand. I believe my thoughts on the matter are descriptive. For most others, the explanation of the white bunny tail phenomenon is primarily conjecture. For me, I've seen exactly how it works (or fails) in very wild conditions.

Here’s my explanation.

The white tail, which is exposed only when running at speed, when attempting to escape a predator, certainly causes the pursuing animal to visually concentrate on the rapidly bobbing white spot shooting across the landscape. For mammals in pursuit, the white tail probably has little effect because the fleeing rabbit can easily out run any fox, coyote, or other mammal. Yes, if chased over completely open ground, across a large mowed turf area, a fox or coyote might be able to keep up with the rabbit, even perhaps grab it.

But it must be understood that resident rabbits occupy rather small areas, usually no more than 5 or 10 acres at most. Within this small area, they create many “runways,” trampled or eaten narrow tunnels in the existing vegetation. Every falconer (and rabbit hunter) has seen these. While the falconer is stumbling through thick brush and high grasses and forbs, a sitting rabbit instantly bolts away. Upon examination, it’s clear that the bunny ran at full, unhindered speed through a rabbit-created freeway down in the vegetation. It’s too small for any running mammal to occupy. A fox or coyote (as with a human) gets tripped up with the high grass and brush. The bunny knows exactly where the runway ends, which is usually in a deep pile of rocks, brush, or a woodchuck hole. In every case, the pursuing mammal is left without a capture.

In its pursuit, it may have seen the bobbing white tail ahead, but realized soon that it couldn't be closed upon.

The advantageous function of the white tail works when the bunny is pursued by a hawk. As described, a bunny can usually run easily away from a mammalian predator that chooses to pursue it in a hunting chase. In that case, the color of the tail makes no difference, white or brown. Either way, the rabbit will get away.

Parenthetically, it must be noted here that the real issue of survival involves wild habitat, with sufficient brush, weeds, and other vegetation through which the rabbit can easily run and leave the mammalian predators behind. Without the habitat, the rabbit’s dead. Central Park doesn't likely have much good “rabit-tat,” rabbit habitat.

It’s different, however, when the bunny is being pursued by a big, powerful red-tailed hawk. In this case, the bird can keep up or close in on the fleeing rabbit. The hawk flies through thin air, not through the slowing brush or weeds. And the hawk is aloft. It can see exactly where the rabbit is running.

Even if the bunny were all camouflage brown or gray, it’s a big animal and the hawk would easily see it scooting through the vegetation below. There is no way it can avoid being seen when it moves. And to eat it must move. A red-tail sitting high in a distant tree can easily spot a rabbit slowly coursing through a meadow. That’s why rabbits have eyes on the sides of their heads, to detect a closing raptor as soon as it can, allowing it to run off to safety before the hawk approaches.

But as it runs, it throws up its pure-white tail, which bobs back and forth with every stride. As a falconer standing in a field where my red-tail has discovered a fleeing rabbit, I've seen numerous times how this works. Here’s the pivotal matter of the issue.

Yes, the hawk’s eye is drawn to the bunny’s white tail, and it becomes the hawk’s target. We see this particularly with young, inexperienced red-tails. The young bird flies right at the tail, and when possible it tries to grab it. Quite frequently, however, the hawk is unable to gain a grip on the fleeing bunny. Falconers have seen this time and again, where the hawk is left standing in the field with a fist-full of bunny tail fur. The victorious rabbit is watched running off to some place of safety.

Here’s how this works. Rabbit fur is waxy, and on the rabbit’s posterior a bit thicker than in the anterior regions. If the hawk grabs right for the bright target, the tail, it will be absolutely impossible hold on to. There’s nothing in the cotton tail more than the “cotton” itself, no flesh, no fat, nothing into which the sharp talons can pierce.

So, the bright tail lures the naive hawk into trying to grab the least vulnerable part of the rabbit’s anatomy. Even when the hawk grabs the rabbit’s adjacent rump, the talons have a tendency to slip through the waxy fur without piercing the skin. Falconers have seen this time and time again, realizing that their birds must have needle-sharp talons to make a kill.

A young wild red-tail probably tries a few cottontail pursuits, but is likely to end up with nothing for its efforts. After just a few of these worthless pursuits, it will then turn its attentions to other prey, leaving cottontail rabbits un-hunted, except in deep-snow periods in winter when nothing else presents itself.

But we falconers (and our hawks) quickly learn how to take cottontails. After just a few of these tail-fur failures, the hawk finally learns to sink its talons into the rear flesh of the rabbit. Now, the advantage has shifted to the hawk.

When grabbed, the hawk and rabbit roll as a now-connected ball of fur and feathers across the landscape. Finally, the rabbit is brought to a stop and the hawk instinctively tries to sink its talons ever deeper into the bunny, to make the kill. But there are no vulnerable organs in the rear flanks of the rabbit, which kicks the attached hawk with near-lethal kicks. This, too, can cause the hawk to retreat, allowing the rabbit to escape with a few thin talon piercings.

In all of this, the white tail has directed the hawk’s attention to the rabbit’s rear end. To make the kill, the hawk must re-direct its attention to the rabbit’s head, where a piercing talon punctures the cranium. A quick death then ensues.

Falconers who hunt cottontail rabbits, with red-tailed hawks, goshawks, or Harris’ hawks, have seen all of this. After the second or third thumping with the rabbit’s hind legs, the hawk learns to sink a second set of talons into the rabbit’s head. The episode is over.

As the hawks become ever more experienced in the pursuit of rabbits, they learn to forgo the deceptive white tail altogether. They go right to the head and make the quickest of kills. Old, experienced wild red-tails, such as Pale Male himself, have learned a multitude of such survival tricks, most of which involve learning how to effectively capture and kill available animals, which in Central Park are mostly pigeons and rats.

I must add very strongly and forcefully that no falconer delights in any way in the natural, albeit painful death the hawk has brought upon the captured rabbit. We strive to allow our hawks to make a quick and instant kill, which they quickly learn to do. Personally, I verbally applaud the many (the majority) of rabbits that avoid my hawk’s pursuit. More often than not, they make my hawk look to be inadequate to survive with only rabbit prey. Most often, the rabbits escape to live another day in the wild.

In summary, the white cottontail diverts a naive hawk’s attention to the rabbit’s least vulnerable body region, where it has the best chance of avoiding capture or escaping a non-lethal talon piercing. To fully understand this, it has to be repeatedly witnessed, as falconers have for millennia.

–John Blakeman

Red the Squirrel Scare-An Update from Stella

Photograph by Julia Bailey
Stella Hamilton, ardent Red Watcher sent in this update for those who haven't seen Red lately...
There was a bit of concern over the past few days among the Red Watchers because Red has not been seen in her usual digs. She was last seen in her fenced in area last Monday, Memorial Day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, she was a no show. Clare and I were concerned she might have moved elsewhere, or even worse,"moved on". We called out her name and we chattered, but there was no sign of Red. What happened ? She usually comes down to drink water from the plastic cups in the evening. She hasn't for 2 days.

I arrived at Locust Grove around 5pm yesterday, Thursday, to look for her .I had a good feeling I was going to see her. And sure enough there she was having a peanut on the foot of one of her trees. I was elated ! Then she had a walnut from Clare. And finally she drank her water, and headed on up to settle in for night on a Locust tree 50 feet North of her fenced in area. Today , she made us wait for only 1 hour , and that's fine as long as she comes by and says hello. We saw her creeping and bounding from the West in a hurry and was headed for that Locust tree . We offered her all sorts of treats. She had her usual 2 bites then headed towards the water supply. She drank about half a jello pudding cup of water. To me, that's a lot of water for a little squirrel. Then, she climbed up a low branch above our heads , and looked at us again and again. It was so wonderful to see her sweet little face. Around 6:15, she climbed higher until she disappeared among the leaves. We thanked her for gracing us with her presence and we bade her good night.

Be safe Red.
I asked Stella if there was a chance that Red's change in behavior might have something to do with a change in maternal status. She wrote back...
Dear Donna,
I don't think Red has babies. Some days we've observed her rushing back from the North, South ,East and West of her yard. I think the grey squirrels have a lot to do with her change in behavior given that she was kicked out of her old apartment in late March. Sadly, we haven't even heard her chatter since then. Oh , we miss that chatter. I guess she feels like she's no longer the Alpha female of Locust Grove. One day, I hope she gets her voice back and "chatter up" . She lets them know who's Queen of Locust Grove.
Ah well, we're still waiting for a male Red Squirrel and a male Turkey for the hen in Morningside Park. Why is it the females are willing to adventure into the city but the males aren't. That is except the original urban Hawk, Pale Male, who arrived before the females.
Donegal Browne