Monday, June 23, 2008

Pale Male as UK Tourist Lure, Cathedral and Triborough Updates plus the NYTimes on Marie Winn's Central Park In The Dark

Hous, the active, looks around for something to do.

A woman walks with her children down the path. An older gentleman reads his paper in a lawn chair. Never seeing that Athena is busy just above their heads in the evergreen. See her up left?

Trib, the contemplative, sits on the fence and watches the world go by.

When I left the park on Saturday night (about 4:00) the fledglings were on the west side of the pool high in the trees between the pool and the basketball court).

On Sunday morning they were on the bleachers in the high dive area. Trib was laying down and Hous was perched up. Some of the staff working on the pool came close to get cellphone pictures and the birds flew out of their range which is great! Hous flew across the high diving area to the trees where he was released. Trib perched on the fence.

Athena came over and perched on the flood lights next to the high dive and Atlas perched with her on the lights to bring her some food. Along comes Hous to join them on the light. He barrels into them and knocks them off the light. Pretty funny.

Later, when Athena brought food to the top diving platform, Hous flew up there in one attempt and got to get the food first. Meanwhile, not to be left out, Trib attempts to get to the top platform but just can't get that last upward swing. So he figures out how to climb the ladder from the second platform to the top. When he gets up there he runs like a chicken to Hous who loses his balance at the end of the diving platform. He flies to the trees and seems perfectly content to sit in the london planes for the afternoon. Such a good flyer and really enjoys moving around in the trees. Trib is still not flying as much as Hous but he is not crying. He preans and looks around quite a bit.

We didn't see Athena feed them last night but she was on the bridge rustling up dinner when we left the park. 3 crows were having battle with some mockingbirds (?) over the river in the late afternoon on Sunday but they didn't seem to be interested in the hawks. Not sure if Atlas and Athena dealt with them at all. (We thought the rain or the crows might have been the reason dinner was not served by the time we left the park)

The park was relatively quiet yesterday with the threat of rain. We finally got some rain but it was a nice sun shower with very little thunder/lightning. They both seemed to enjoy the rain and became fairly animated hopping and flying around.

This morning, Trib was perched on the high dive. Not sure if he was there all night but he was preening and looking at the starlings. Houston was all over the place. When I left him, he was watching the workers putting up new fencing for the basketball court. I let those workers know that he was there and if there were any problems to let the park staff know.

That's all for now.

And as to the discussion over the species of the prey from yesterday, the beak of which was one of the few identifying forms available beyond dark feathers and black feet. Wildlife Rehabilitator Cathy Horvath identifies the prey as a young Crow. I think she's right-- as that's what I thought too. Besides she's raised many an orphaned or injured juvenile Crow and looked at many such beaks in order to put food in them. So Crow it is!


A Raptor Bonanza--Winkie and her husband hit the raptor jackpot.

For my report on the Divines: Saturday AM, around 10, I came up empty. I think that I saw an adult on the horizon toward Central Park, but not sure. I was working Saturday afternoon and evening, so I was not available to check on the juvies. Sunday AM, around 11:15, one of the adults, my guess Isolde, was on the hospital chimney. Although I walked around for 45 minutes, I found no other hawks.

Sunday evening, about 6:45 PM, my husband and I hit the raptor bonanza! He was the first to notice the cry and ask me to identify it. ...Large baby bird distress noises!

Then out of the blue, aerial warfare was above us! A juvie hawk being harassed by the kestrels. There were two or three kestrels in pursuit. The juvie was really being dive-bombed! But it was clearly not able to fly faster or out maneuver the kestrels.

Now, wait, what's that? There is another large bird above added into the mix. This was all fairly high above the tops of the Columbia buildings, so I found a place to steady the binoculars and make sure that I was seeing right. It was a peregrine falcon, wing shape and size were my clues. Now there are three raptor species above our buildings engaged in maneuvers.

The kestrels doing the harassing and the the hawk and the peregrine trying to get clear. Or maybe the peregrine is trying to snag a meal? At this point, we are not sure how many kestrels there are. There are two major ones in pursuit and others doing support. Because they disappear behind the Columbia buildings and reappear so fast, it was impossible to keep an eye on both the juvie hawk and the peregrine and the back-up guard of kestrels - so I wouldn't be able to say for sure how many kestrels there really were. We never saw more than three together. By now the juvie hawk is resting out of sight on a roof top. And the screaming peregrine is trying to find a safe place.

Once the peregrine stopped on a railing on one of the roof tops, I was able to get the glasses on it and confirm that it too is one of the recent fledges. So we have had about ten minutes of these skirmishes above us. After a short pause, the hawk is in the air again.

Apparently the kestrels found its resting place. It appears to be getting quite tired out and not able to keep out of their way. Back to another roof - the edge of a roof, still in sight. And in the mean time the peregrine really sets us a ruckus of distress.

For some reason the kestrels are not bothering it anymore. Maybe their first encounter was enough to get their message across. After another five minutes, the kestrels are heading back toward the cathedral and leaving both birds alone.

Now wait just a minute, what is that near the peregrine? Less than thirty feet away is another hawk. All total about twenty minutes of commotion and now all is quiet. Still really quiet, except for the continued distress cries of the peregrine. All the other birds are still undercover.At this point, we head toward the cathedral. This action has taken place four blocks north of the cathedral. Both us have to reconfirm what we just witnessed.

Yes, one hawk was definitely a juvie, rosy breast clearly visible. The other, not a positive ID. From the fact that this hawk was not active in the fray, my guess is that is was one of the juvies trying to lay low, only a guess. And yes, it really was a peregrine this far from Riverside Church. It too was very mottled, not clearly marked like an adult.

Now, I do not know much about the peregrines, but I cannot imagine that an adult would be trying to sit out a kestrel attack. And would guess that no adult would be making such calls.Looking around the cathedral, I was coming up short.

Give my husband the credit. A adult hawk was on top of the head of Gabriel - the obvious lookout point! After looking at Bruce's photos from Sunday, I would almost certainly say is was Isolde, she is just that much larger relative to the angel's head. And even from four blocks the cries of the peregrine could be heard.

After about thirty more minutes, nothing much had changed. When we headed home; however, the second hawk had moved on. The juvies, both peregrine and hawk, still in the same position. If the hawk were letting out any cries, it was not head over those of the peregrine.

When we were several more blocks up, the peregrine took off over toward Columbia's campus and in direction of the Riverside Church nest. We heard the cries continue. And even after getting into our apartment those cries could still be clearly distinguished.

WOW, amazing evening!


New York: Unlikely wildlife in Central Park -
United Kingdom
This is Pale Male, a wild red-tail hawk, which, for 10 years, has nested and raised more than 20 offspring in the heart of New York. Before Pale Male (so ...


More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife.
By Marie Winn.
Illustrated. 304 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25.

Published: June 22, 2008

Is it dangerous to lark in Central Park at night? Not really, Marie Winn says in “Central Park in the Dark.” The “precinct enjoys the city’s lowest crime rate,” she writes. This may be true on a per acre basis (not per capita), but still, it wasn’t until the author came to know the park extremely well that her fear of the night receded, “though it never disappeared completely. Familiarity breeds content.”>IV>

And Marie Winn's website, a wonderful fount of Central Park Nature News--

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