Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pale Male Ponders--And so should we. Plus a CCNY Nest Update from Hilary

Pale Male ponders.
In answer to the many variations on the question, "Is there any real sign that Pale Male and Lola have a hatch?"
The answer is no. A definitive sign would be the sighting of feeding motions on the part of Lola by an experienced Hawk Watcher. Something we have not yet seen at the Fifth Avenue nest this season, nor have we seen it the previous three seasons.
The only conclusive proof, would be the sighting of fluffy white heads peeking up over the rim of the nest. Though each day we search, as yet there is nothing.
It occurred to me today, as I pondered the situation that though we do want young hawks to hatch once again on the nest at Fifth Avenue, our wish might well have as much or more to do with our pleasure, than it does with theirs.
I had a realization. Think about it. Raising a clutch of eyasses is hard grueling work. It wears the parents out. They work at top speed from dawn to dusk for months caring for the young. They take more chances, put themselves in danger of accident by flying in all weathers, they brave the specter of infected squirrel bites, and nab more rats. And rats in New York City are, as we know, a game of Poison Roulette.
What if, when attempting to care for their brood Pale Male or Lola had an accident and we lost one of them? Give a thought to never seeing Pale Male soar the skies of New York City ever again. Certainly it will happen someday but would I hasten it with my wishes?
Would I lose one of these hawks in a months time for the pleasure of watching them raise a family? Would you? Of course not.
Therefore even though we yearn for a hatch yet again this season, if there isn't one...?
But having said all that knowing that if there isn't a hatch it puts them in less jeopardy and my disappointment will be lightened by their increased safety, I know that they work tirelessly for a hatch. Therefore my fingers are still firmly crossed and my best hopes go with them.
A few days ago a smiling hawk-watching graduate student, Hilary Solter from uptown, appeared beside the scope at the Hawk Bench. She stayed to watch and after hearing she was often up near the CCNY Nest, in my mind she became an immediate Pale Male Irregular and I pressed her into service. Hilary promised us updates on the CCNY nest. Here is her first offering--
Hi Donna,
I was able to spend some time watching the city college hawks today, a session in the morning and again in the afternoon.
I saw one fly to the nest at about 10:30 a.m., I'm going to assume it was the male, but I can't confirm that. I was down in the park, way below the bluff , the campus is on top of when he arrived, looking up at a very steep angle through a monocular.
I'd been in the park trying to figure out if the male was in any of the trees I'd seen him in before, but I couldn't find him.
So, what did I see... I don't think any prey was carried to the nest, unless it was very small and I missed it. I was fairly sure I could only see one hawk, although since the angle was so terrible, I realize they could have switched places without me seeing it. I could see a tail, then I thought the hawk turned around and was looking around over the park.
Everything happened very quickly - a hawk flew out of the nest and landed nearby on the other side of the tower where the nest is.
If this was an exchange, then maybe it was hungry mom, because I could see "her" looking down on the other side of the building, where there is a nice green lawn and trees full of starlings, squirrels and pigeons.
"She" soon flew off out of my sight and I couldn't see any activity in the nest so I went off to get some work done.When I came back out later in the afternoon around 3:15 p.m., I didn't see anything for quite awhile.
Then I saw what I think was a kestrel soaring over the park, which confused me since it seemed to be asking for trouble being close to the nest. But then I saw what I will assume was the male flying high over the building where the nest is, being marauded by three crows. (I think I mentioned when I met you there are crows that "own" the other side of the building where the nest is, I see them perched up there all the time). The hawk didn't seem particularly fazed, but when one got too close, he swung his talons at the crow. I hadn't seen that "in person" yet, only on film, so that was pretty exciting once I realized he wasn't in any danger - he soared away from them and they broke off pursuit once he cleared the campus. This must have taken place around 4:00 p.m.
The last bit of excitement before I finally tore myself away was mom popped her head up high enough to clear the nest, so I could see her looking out over the park for a few minutes. Then after awhile she turned so her tail was visible. Then her tail sort of bobbed up and down for awhile. Not sure what that was about. This was the first time I'd seen a hawk in the nest (as opposed to flying into/out of it), so another thrill for me.
Kestrels near a hawk or hawk nest is relatively common in the city. Kestrels are plucky little guys and they feel it's their responsibility to give any near-by Red-tails a bit of an hassle every now and again just to make sure the RTs don't get too big for their fluffy britches. They aren't really a danger to the Red-tails as long as everyone is paying attention and for the most part the RTs attempt to ignore them if possible. I have seen Kestrels actually make contact with Pale Male and also with Isolde up at St. John's Cathedral. Isolde will then often just move to a slightly more protected spot. As for the Kestrels, they are extremely quick and rarely get nabbed by the hawks though it can happen if they become too over confident.
Crows on the other hand can be a danger to young hawks who haven't learned the ropes yet. A young Pale Male was once chased into a building by them and ended up with a concussion.
Also at the Cathedral, last season Isolde and Tristan often had to hold off attacks by raiding parties of three Crows while their eyasses were on the nest. Crows are smart and opportunistic. If they could have gotten an eyass it would have become family lunch.
Keep up those observations!
Best, Donna

No comments: