Monday, June 23, 2008

Astoria Park Eyasses I aka Checking on the Triborough Bridge Family Part I

When I arrived lower east side photographer Francois Portmann reported that this fledgling had been begging nearly non-stop for two hours. The other fledgling had been fed earlier in the morning and then the female, Athena, had come to eat her meal in front of the begging fledgling, and then had flown away.

This seemed very worrisome

As I was mulling this over and not feeling terribly good about it, here came Athena again. She delivered the prey to the branch, Hous the begging fledgling jumped at it and her, which is typical. She deftly avoided the pounce and went to the other end of the branch to see how the fledge got on. First he mantled hugely over the prey just in case the other watching fledgling had any ideas.

Athena watched.

Then Hous got down to the business of eating. We weren't sure if he'd been fed since he was released the previous morning. And truth be known, there's no real way to tell since Red-tail hawks are voracious eaters no matter when the last time they ate happened to be.

Hous gives a mighty tug.

Oops, it's gone and fallen onto the tennis court below. Also typical.

Hous is down in a flash and mantling the prey once again. Trib isn't all that far away, nor are the photographers. Any of which Hous has decided might come and nab his lunch.

He grabs the prey hop flaps up to the next higher level, mantles again, and gives the supposed would be lunch grabbers, the eye.

Then he totters ever so slightly.

And comes very close to loosing the prey and his balance. But he's learning. He holds onto the perch with his left foot and holds onto the prey with his right.

Now he has the prey between his feet and uses them both to perch with. Hmmm.

Whether he dropped it again or realized that needing both feet to perch with meant loosing his talons as dining tools I don't know.

But soon he was walking across the tennis court. It looked like the prey had been inadvertently stuck to his foot as he was shuffling along, scraping it against the court surface as he went. Then I realized he hadn't figured out that it's easier to walk with the food in your beak, rather than walking on the food as you walk.

He gets the food into a position which pleases him, gives us the glare, and sets to eating.

With gusto.

This view of the beak is for those who would like to help in identifying the prey. It was young something. We had rather an extended discussion, Adam Welz and I, and have yet settled on the species.

Oh yeah, the rest is over there.

Back he goes for more.

Then it begins to look as if he's begun to "play" with his food. Though perhaps he's just repositioning it.




John said...

My guess would be that the prey is a young grackle. The bill and the color fit that description. But it's hard to tell once the hawk starts ripping the bird apart.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi John,

As you're going for a young Grackle, you're in Adam Welz's camp. My thought is that it's a young Crow. You're right though it's not easy.