Friday, May 16, 2008

Isolde Too Long Off the Nest? Plus the Goldfinch and his Disappearing Cloaca

Isolde guards the nest from St. Luke's Hospital

Today I received an email from Curtis Webber, who is visiting New York City. He has been following the adventures of the New York City hawks for several years and made a trip up to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to see the nest. He also happens to be a wildlife rehabilitator and echos a concern first brought to my attention by local rehabilitator Bobby Horvath.

When I arrived at the corner of 113th and Morningside Avenue I saw a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on the building across the street from the nest. Using my binoculars, I saw that the hawk's eyes were not lightly colored so I assumed the hawk to be the Cathedral female, Isolde. I began to watch her as well as the nest hoping for a glimpse of an eyas. Isolde was showing signs of stress and did not return to the nest in the time, two and one half hours, that I watched.

She watched the men doing construction, with her bill slightly open and did not preen or engage in other activities typical to a perched bird. When men on the high walkway walked toward the nesting area she made three passes over them. They continued to walk from one side of the nest area to the other seemingly using the walkway as a shortcut to another section as no work was performed.

I read on Robert Schmunk's website that he believes there is at least one eyas in this nest. I have a large concern about that eyas or eyases. Young birds cannot regulate their own body temperature adequately and need their parent's body heat to remain viable. Several eyases can remain warm for more time but for young the age of these, to be without the body warmth of a parent for two and a half hours is dangerous. They may not survive. The lack of regard being shown these nesting raptors is unconscionable. If not illegal, at least in my opinion as they are being unnecessarily harassed.

A concerned friend,

Curtis Webber

As I mentioned earlier, Bobby Horvath also expressed concern over the possible very young inhabitants of the nest being left too long without being brooded as their mother is attempting to protect them from intruders.

Glenn Phillips, executive director of NYC Audubon and I spoke about the situation and he has contacted officials of the Cathedral a number of times about his concerns. I too have contacted the Cathedral with my take on the situation with a choice of suggestions as to how these dangerous interactions might be avoided and allow both the hawks to tend their nest and the men do their work. As of Thursday, there has been no response from the Cathedral.

I do hope that a dialogue can take place. Talking goes a long way in understanding any given situation and what accommodations might be made to bring about a happy ending for this newly bonded pair of hawks.

But it is Spring and the world is full of bird song if we listen. The Robins have begun their ritual of daily bathing.

The neighbors have begun their yearly battle with the Dandelion. This example was several inches wide and quite beautiful. And while we're on a yellow theme--

Mr. Goldfinch slide his eye into the shadow to check out my intentions without glare, giving us a super view of his back pattern.

Satisfied he flips over and goes for another seed. Look carefully at the Goldfinch's anterior. Exactly where is his cloaca?
Donna Browne


Yojimbot said...

thanks for following up on this Donna. Unfortunately this nest has just had too many strikes against it this year...but hopefully the Cathedral can be more open to altering some of their practices.

Donegal Browne said...

Thank YOU, James, for monitoring the situation in the field. Yes, this nest has had many strikes against it this year, but I had hope for Isolde to pull them through. In past years, this was the nest that succeeded when when Pale Male, Lola, Pale Male Jr., and Charlotte's nests failed. It is unfortunate that there hasn't been more sensitivity and dialogue in the midst of the unfortunate conflict between man and hawk at the Cathedral.

We'll just keep trying.