Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Can We Help a Grounded Eyass Help Herself?

This is Youngest from the St. John the Divine Cathedral Church nest in 2006. Youngest is stuck. I showed up one afternoon and there he was wandering around the sidewalk. Just as I saw him down the sidewalk, a pedestrian ahead of me almost spooked him into the street. So I got in the street hoping to keep him on the sidewalk. Notice his annoyed look. About then the parking lot attendant called to me that he'd been on the ground wandering around the parking lot and now outside the chain link fence most of the day. He considers attempting to get to the roof of the parked car. Something we've seen eyasses do in an attempt to get into a tree. It doesn't usually work and puts them into more trouble on the slippery car roof where they slide into the road.

A very dangerous place for an eyass to be on a busy corner with oblivious drivers of cars roaring by. As you can see he wants to get over the fence to the nest area. That's security. He also, while I watched, checked out the lamp post, the trees, anything with height where he might branch into a tree. There is nothing for him to use. This may well happen again this year. How could we help?

A blog reader from Illinois who, when I asked for brainstorming on the topic, began researching the question and found this:

MIT in Boston had a RTH nest site last year in a large pine, and after spotting it, set up a cam focused on the nest. I was reading the site this afternoon, and they have some nest video as well, of the young eyasses and their progress and growth and nest bouncing.

When the first eyass fledged it batted and buffeted down to the student center across the street, and there, guarded by passersby, it branched for most of a day among the bicycles parked there, from handlebars to handlebars and eventually, back up into the nesting tree. So it would not have to be very big, to support branching, apparently, at least not for that fledgling. Just several sets of bicycle handlebars welded together.

More brainstorming needed. (grin)

(I like the idea of handle bar art for branching though with all the bike thieves it might well disappear before the birds could use it. But it does show that just about anything would work if it gave some height near a tree. D.B.)

Youngest panics as another pedestrian begins coming toward him and he heads for the other street of the intersection. Morningside which is rank with speeding traffic. That's when I begin to call for the help of passers-by. Not the best solution but the only one I had at the time. We managed to stop traffic and he made it across the street without being squashed only to find-- yes you guessed it, another obstacle. The park fence.

He jumped 9 times, while we held our breathe and asked pedestrians to make a detour to the other side of the street, before making it to the top of the stone base of the fence.

The gate to the park is not at all far on his left, but they seem to have pinpoint focus and don't notice the big picture. He's looking for trees. He sees trees. He goes for trees. The view through the gate is quite an expanse of path at least from his level.

He finally makes it and has to totally scrunch himself to get through the bars.
(What is temporary, wouldn't get stolen, vandalized, or otherwise disabled that could be used on or near a tree to get them off the ground? D.B.)

Once through the gap he makes a leap for the top of the bush. No good. He falls back down.

Then tired, possibly hungry, and probably more than a little dehydrated he sits while the Catbirds scream behind his head to rest and think about the situation.

Most of the pedestrians that walked by, didn't notice him stashed on the other side of the fence. But for those who did, there were cell phone photos a foot from his head and the child who reached out a hand to touch him. Thankfully two other Hawkwatchers arrived to monitor the situation as I had to leave. But it just goes to show, not only is the eyass safer off the ground but so is your average pedestrian.
Eventually Youngest made it to a small tree and by the next day was way up in the large trees with his sister, gobbling drop off meals brought by this parents.
Donegal Browne
P.S. There is a much more detailed account and quite a number of other photos of Youngest's predicament which can be found at --
Just scroll down the page that comes up.


Karen Anne said...

I can't quite remember the details, but the San Jose peregrines are monitored while taking their first flights in some fashion by volunteers possibly coordinated by the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (

From their web site it looks like they were prepared last year to retrieve a grounded young bird and take him or her to a safe place accessible to the parents or something.

Whether that is a good idea or too invasive, I dunno.

Maybe you could have some collapsible easily portable thing for the monitors to have with them if necessary.

Roe said...

if he's going to live in the city he'll have to learn about it. I wouldn't interfere at all. Though it would be hard on me if he were killed, I am a falconer and have one of these birds myself. He's got to learn about fences and cars and people the hard way because that's natures way.

Donegal Browne said...

For More Discussion and Thoughts on This Topic Go to the Main Page---
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Should We "Interfer"? Helping in the Urban Jungle.