Wednesday, April 30, 2008

URBAN HAWK UPDATE: Hawkeye and Rose Do It Again and Hilary Reports on the CCNY Nest!

Photograph Donegal Browne
Hawkeye on the left and Rose on the right.
Chris Lyons confirms that indeed Hawkeye and Rose have had a hatch! Here is his update:
I just got up on the roof of Dealy Hall--which was chilly, wet, and windy, not that you asked. Rose was in the process of tearing up what looked to be part of a squirrel, and was quite obviously trying to feed it to somebody. I'm pretty sure I saw feeding going on a week ago (Tuesday, 4/22), and I've seen various familiar and promising behavior patterns from the parents over the past few days--but this was much more obvious.

I also saw a little grey blob moving around under her, but it wasn't terribly clear--I couldn't be 100% sure it wasn't part of the nest lining, or her fluffy undertail coverts. I needed a bit more.

After watching for about five minutes or so, the little grey blob finally got up high enough so that I could see it had eyes and a beak. I only saw one, but there could definitely have been more. The one I saw did look to be about a week old. Didn't hatch out in the last day or so, of that I am certain.

The nest is extremely deep--even with the high vantage point provided by Dealy Hall, and a high quality scope, the eyass(es?) simply can't be seen most of the time, even when feeding is in progress.

No photos, sorry. I forgot my camera, but even if I'd had it with me, I doubt I'd have gotten anything useful. Light was poor, glimpses were few and brief.

So Rose started sitting on March 20th, hatching (probably) began on or around April 22nd, and the presence of at least one eyass was 100% confirmed today. In the past, we've had to wait longer to see the first chick--the Dealy roof really helps.
Yea! More eyasses enter the urban world in New York City. Speaking of which, Hilary Sortor did some hawkwatching up at the CCNY Nest. She saw and heard some very interesting behavior when a raiding party of American Crows came by. Here's her report.

We had a cloudburst around 1:30 pm. I remembered reading (maybe from your blog???) that the brooding female will shelter the eggs or chicks from rain, and then she needs to dry off, preen, fluff up, etc. when it's over. So I went out at 2:30 when the sun had come out and there she was, sitting up high in the nest. I saw her extend a wing, lift her tail, preen her chest, etc. After a few minutes of this, she sat back down and was mostly out of sight. I went back inside because I had a ton of work to get done.

I came back out at 4:45. I had just gotten to the nest when the male flew by the nest, so I didn't see exactly where he approached from, although it wasn't over the roof of Shephard Hall, as in BV blogger's sighting. He approached from the north flying southwards. He went by without stopping and I saw him soar down into the park. Since I couldn't see any activity in the nest, I went for a walk in St Nicholas park to see if could find him. I made a circuit of the places I've seen him without luck. After I came back and stood around for awhile, the female emerged from the nest at 5:27. She made a tight, soaring turn over the roof of Shephard hall that I would need to diagram for you to describe accurately. Then she landed on one of the gargoyles on one of the turrets on the tower where the nest is. She was about 12-15 feet from the nest, in a higher and slightly projecting perch, so she had a wider range of vision than she would from the nest. She started fluffing and preening, fanning her tail - it was beautiful even without the scope since she had blue sky behind her. This went on until 5:35 when the first of three crows passed by, flying east to west. I've not seen the crows actually fly past the nest before. They've flown nearby, as they did last week, but not actually on the north side of the tower where the nest is. She watched the crow fly off, then she made a series of short cries. I'm not very knowledgeable about bird calls, but to my untrained ears, she sounded like she was in distress - it didn't seem like a threatening or warning sound. As soon as the crow had flown far enough away, she took her eyes off him and circled back to the nest. Once in the nest, she clamped down tight, I couldn't see her at all. I kept looking around to see if the male would come. I wondered if she was calling to him. One more crow flew by, roughly same flight path (or maybe it was the first one looped around for another look? would they do that?) The female made one more series of cries (I'd say there were perhaps a string of 6-8 short cries, but I was just trying to take it all in). The male did not show up in the time before I had to leave to go to class, but a third crow flew behind the tower where the nest is, also east to west. The female could not have seen this third crow from where she was and was silent. I left for class around 5:52.

What's bothering me is I can't figure out where the male is perching when the female is on the nest. I was thinking about your picture of Pale Male on the oreo (?) building, how he keeps an eye on the territory from there. I can't figure out where this male would have the best view, except for some elms that are directly across the street. I saw him eat part of a rat's haunch there once, but I couldn't find him there today, or on top of any of the surrounding buildings. The only thing I can think of is that he could be on the Engineering building across the street from the Shephard Hall nest, but he's perhaps sitting on a structure that is set back from street view (like Pale Male ?). I wonder what the crows would think of that, though: I'm pretty sure he'd be in their line of sight vis-a-vis where they like to perch on the south side of Shephard Hall. It's a mystery to me.
The Bloomingdale Village blog has some wonderful pictures and behavioral descriptions of the CCNY nest today in the 4-28 post : .

I told Hilary I'd respond to some of her questions in the update on the blog, and that will be up in tomorrow's post. Until then...
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Donegal,

After the hormonal level wains on the nesting instinct of Pale Male and Lola after another heartbreaking 2008 nesting season is there any plans for an early egg retrieval to see if the eggs were viable this year and to check to see what once again went wrong? Since the spikes were removed it was more then surely hopeful that this would have been the season for a hatch. Is there still some flaw in the nest design to cause Lola and Pale Male to not have good contact to warm their eggs? I'm not an expert, just a devoted fan who never knew about them until the plight in 2004 with the nest removal, but I sit here and ponder that there must be something wrong with that structural design that is deceiving the hawks somehow to thinking it's fuller then it really is and they don't build the nest bowl as high it should be away from that cold metal structure. Four seasons of dissappointment has passed, how many more need to pass until an answer is truly found? There can be joy found in their offspring reproducing all over the beautiful park but the Patriarch and Matriarch of Central Park are in need of some answers to their failure, hopefully there will be some one day before it's too late. I know you're busy but if you ever have a few minutes I'd love to hear from you and your words of wisdom.

My email is :

I live in Massachusetts.

Thank you for your time...