Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just What Are Pale Male and Lola Doing Up There?

The Cherry blossoms are in bloom in Central Park. Pale Male and Lola, a bonded pair in their 7th season, stand on the Fifth Avenue nest, companionably together, watching what appears to be the sunset.

Lola, originally called Lolita because of her tender years, has now been Pale Male's mate far longer than any other female. He has been a widower three times. Blue who was Pale Male's third mate, was with him for four seasons before she died,1998-2001. Blue holds the record for successful fledges-14.

Lola whose seasons with the Monarch of Central Park started in 2002, has stuck with Pale Male through the good and the bad times, and has helped fledge 4 eyasses in six seasons. (Just think of how many eyasses might have been launched in the last three years if there hadn't been problems.)

Many thanks to James Lewis and his History of the Fifth Avenue Red-tailed Hawks for the data.

I've still got my fingers crossed for 2008. And whether it's what we're looking for up there or just that the weather is warmer, can't be discovered. But little things seem different. Don't get too excited now, no patently significant behavior has been observed but there are some small changes...

4:15PM Arrival.

4:23PM Lola is busy today. She is moving twigs. She is preening. She keeps shuffling around. Changing position and then doing more heavy preening. Pale Male isn't visible from the Hawk Bench.

5:06:55PM Lola is high in the nest. She puts her head down to do something and does it for a moment.

5:07:19PM And then she preens her tail.

5:07:31PM Her head goes down into the bowl or preens her chest or ? All eyes are glued to binoculars or scopes. Whatever it is, we can't see it. The tension is intermittently palpable. Then she disappears. Big sigh.

5:13:05. But a ship flying the Jolly Roger appears on the Model Boat Pond and suddenly the Disney pirate song starts going through my head...

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's live for me

We char, we kindle, inflame and ignite

Drink up, me 'earties yo ho!

We burn down the city, we're really a fright!

Drink up me 'earties yo ho!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me...

Yes, I do know all the verses, even the one about raping and pillaging that is no longer PC...
But there are lots of people today in the park, asking questions, looking at the nest, kids learning to look through a scope, and folks one hasn't seen since last season are checking in, therefore no rousing chorus of that today. Who has time?

5:22PM Lola's head pops up yet again.

5:24PM Then the view of her back high in the nest. One could think she might be turning the eggs but I don't see the usual head motion with the position.

6:11PM After more preening, Lola gives another look around the territory. Is she watching Pale Male keeping track of his comings and goings? Most likely.

6:12 She preens her belly.

6:14PM Lola is up out of the bowl and looking around.

6:15PM Lower belly and wing preening.

6:18PM Lola has been staring fixedly for three minutes.

6:19PM I get the feeling she's waiting for Pale Male to come to the nest. Finally she gives up and settles back into the nest bowl.

6:29PM Pale Male arrives on the nest with prey. He looks down into the bowl where Lola is hunkered down, or appears to be anyway.

6:31PM Lola has gotten up yet.

6:32PM He stares down at her some more.

6:34PM He's scoped the territory and is now back to staring down again. Still no Lola, except a bit of back.

6:36:42He turns his face to the back wall and waits expectantly. No Lola coming out yet. He has his back turned for at least three minutes. this is one of the very unusual bits. She is making him wait quite a long time. While usually it tends to be far less than a minute from the time he lands and she rises from the nest, not today.

6:37:50PM Pale Male checks the territory. Lola's back appears yet again.

6:39:15PM Lola comes from the bowl. She has made Pale Male wait for 9 minutes. Very unusual. The whole switch often lasts less than 1 minute. Pale Male looks at her, then looks at the prey. His back remains turned. Lola looks at the prey. She gets the prey.

6:39:32PM Lola pokes the prey, a half pigeon, missing a wing and head. Pale Male has eaten his half first this time. Earlier was she watching him eat in the distance? The past few days he's been seen eating her left overs after she is finished. He often does this during breeding season.

6:39:40PM Lola picks up her dinner and takes off to the north past Oreo and then veers toward the Ramble.

6:40:05PM Pale Male disappears into the nest.

7:10:12PM Lola lands on the nest after a 31 minute dinner break.

7:10:53PM Lola checks out the surroundings. She almost always returns to the nest on the opposite side but today she comes in on the north end of the nest. Also unusual.

7:11:22PM Pale Male does not hop right out of the bowl. This is usual. Either he naps in there, she's had to poke him to get him out, or he doesn't like giving up the nest.
7:11:31PM He carefully rises up, with Lola watching with acute focus.
7:11:47PM Notice Pale Male is not standing in the bowl. He is perched on the rim. The light has begun to go golden.
7:12:06PM They stand quietly together on the nest, looking out.
7:12:15PM Both having had dinner and with full crops, they seem to be watching the sunset.

7:12:39PM Pale Male takes off the nest and heads over the Model Boat Pond towards the Boat House and the trees beyond. He'll often circle back around and roost in a favorite tree not far from the Hawk Bench that his a dandy view of the nest--just in case he's needed during the night.

7:12:10PM Lola goes into the bowl. Her back visible.

7:14:16PM Lola head appears once again, no doubt keeping track of where Pale Male is--just in case she's needed during the night.

Night is coming and if you look carefully, you'll see the moon reflected in the Conservatory Waters.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Have any of the NYC redtails' eggs hatched yet?

Donegal Browne said...


As of right now, there hasn't been a definite confirmation, though Mama and Papa are suspected of having one in Queens.