Sunday, May 04, 2008

Highbridge Eyasses, Red-tail vs Red-wing and Some Little Guys-Grosbeak, Goldfinch, and Downy

Photograph by Robert B. Schmunk
The Highbridge formel feeds her eyasses.

Rob Schmunk has gotten the goods again--

I caught the 5:00 feeding at Highbridge. It's definitely two red-tail nestlings, no more, no less. For a while it seemed I was seeing only one baby head, but I think they were sitting almost in a line with my viewing angle and were just trading. But finally got the attached photo: one baby being fed while the other looks out of the nest.

For more photos and Rob’s full report including the CCNY and Cathedral nests, go to his blog-
New Red-wing behavior--
I was tootling down the road between towns in Wisconsin-- in the rain, again, when I saw a Red-tail swooping into the field on my right. She looked like she'd gotten something and stuck so I pulled over.

She takes off with something in her talons.

She sees me and heads for the nearest cover a couple of massive trees on our side of the road. I hop out of the car with the camera, she goes into the tree, click. Where did she go? She should have flown through by now. That would be the usual. Pause.

Unbeknown to me, she'd landed and when I zoomed on the photo of the tree there she was. Look way up center and you'll see the paleness of a tiny Red-tail belly. No the bird isn't tiny it just looks tiny next to the monster trees.

Does this help? I know, not that much. Not a day for "photography". Think documentation. If you look carefully, you'll see a Red-winged Blackbird, just coming off a Red-tail who is scrunched down attempting to avoid him. But this is all after the fact.
In the field, after the pause, when I expected the Red-tail to come out. Beat, beat. Swoosh, here she is with a Red-winged Blackbird just inches above her in hot pursuit. As they fly over the highway, the Red-wing lands on the RTs back-wings folded, basically riding her and starts pecking the begeesus out of her head. Click, unfortunately a semi truck zooms past and I get a photo of that.

Another click, almost obscured by a SUV, but over the top of it I got this. More after the fact. Another photo you'll have to look very carefully at. At the bottom center is a trunk that splits into two parts. Follow the open area up, and just below where they recross, the Red-tail's left wing is contrasted against the left split which is starting to bend to the right. Her right wing is down. There is a black splotch above her back that's the Red-wing who looks about to take flight because she's about to rub him off her back by flying extremely close to where the upper split trunks cross. Then another obscuring vehicle blew by and I don't know if she managed to rub him off or just scare him enough to where he flew off by himself.
There is a bumper crop of Red-wings here this year. After all I have two males who have taken up residence in the back yard and are singing their territories. All the prime territory of long grassed areas with Cattails must be taken. I suspect that the Red-wing in this episode was probably singing his territory in the big tree when the Red-wing cruised in for cover with her prey thus precipitating the incident.
I don't know about you, but I've never seen a mobbing bird ride a Red-tail before. It was quite startling.

You remember I mentioned it was raining? The migrating birds are still cruising in. A few days ago only the female Goldfinch seemed to be in residence but in the last couple of days a male has showed up. He looks at me. What is wrong with his head? I zoom in.

He's got mud on his head. Where has he been sitting? And Goldfinch usually look so tidy, sleek, and bright. One of the Beau Brummels of bird species.
Ah oh, he's noticed the female below him on the feeder.

I don't know little guy, she might not be impressed by the muck look. But on closer inspection she looks like she may have been sitting in the same place he was and is a little mucky on her back as well.
You know, it might just work out.

Once again, I notice that the female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks don't pass through until the males are gone. They were here for two or three days. Now I see her, and the males are nowhere in sight.
You know, black really does make things look smaller. You don't get the full impact of the species heavy duty beak on the males as it's black as are their heads. While on the females in pink, it looks like a downright crusher.

And then back to New York City, with a very cute Downy from Central Park photographer Eleanor Tauber.
Donegal Browne

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