Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Fordham Nest, Predators, Parasites, and Beautiful Moments

Photograph by Rich Fleischer
Here's Rich's update on Rose and Hawkeye's nest at Fordham:

Hawkeye and Rose clearly have at least two healthy chicks (see picture). They were clearly sticking their heads above the top of the nest and I saw Rose feed them on several occasions.

(More from Rich at the end of today's post but a parental caution and not for the sensitive or faint hearted. If you fit these categories do not scroll down beyond the line of 8s.

The Brown-headed Cowbirds have now gone into pairs and instead of one pair like last season, there are now two pairs. For those who don't know, Brown-headed Cowbirds are a parasitic species which lays in other species nests. Their young hatch faster, are bigger and tend to crowd the parent's own young out of the nest.

While I was thinking about Cowbirds, a flash of Cooper's Hawk, about 2 1/2 feet from the ground, zipped past the back patio door.

I figure he's doing a low stealth run to the neighbor's feeder. I grab the camera and go out the front door. That way I hope he won't see me coming. I creep along the side of the house very quietly, scanning as I go. I reach the corner of the house, look right toward the neighbor's feeder. Nothing. Take two steps more and look left--WHAAAAH! The Cooper's and I scare each other half to death. He's sitting two feet away on the brush pile I created for feeder bird cover. Not only do I flush him, but I also flush the sparrow that he might have been after. The sparrow takes off for parts unknown but Mr. Coopers takes to one of the Maples. Click Can I see him? NO!

But the camera did. He then zips deeper into the same tree. He sees I see him and takes off over the next house and gains altitude.

Then he does any number of circles before flashing off at high speed through the branches of tree down the block.
How does that flight body differ from a Red-tail? It's a sharper shaped bird? His wings are slimmer as is his tail which looks longer in relation to his body than that of an RT. Plus every body movement is quicker and more staccato.
Photograph by John Steffen.
Remember John Steffen who sent in the photo of the three Illinois Eaglets? Well, he was minding his own business, just going to the bank when these two cuties caught his eyes. He ran for his car and his camera and these young squirrels waited around for his return and gave him this priceless photo op when he got back.

Photograph by John Steffen
And an offering from John's archives, a protected Sea Turtle, with a shell nearly a yard long, off the coast of Kona in Hawaii.

Caution! Remember the warning above?

Photograph by Rich Fleischer
My fear, however, is that there was a third eyeass that did not survive (see picture). If you think that is something other than an eyeass that Rose is lifting out of the nest let me know. Unfortunately the pictures are not as sharp as I would have liked.
I'm afraid that Rich is most likely right. It is avian matter--wings and feet, though it has not been a meal. I've tried thinking of what else it might be but I've not found a satisfactory answer so far. There are no obvious injuries. Prey is plentiful and Hawkeye and Rose have raised threesomes quite capably before. Perhaps there was a mortal defect or health issue. Regrettably these things happen in all species.
Donegal Browne

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