Thursday, August 14, 2008

Urban Hawk Update: Another Passing, Good News, and a Mystery

Photograph by Donegal Browne
Brash, crazy, and comical Hous aka Houston 1 has died.

Here he is the day after his release from rehab and his acceptance by Athena and Atlas of the Triborough nest as one of their own. Little did we know that he was already infected with Frounce from a meal he'd eaten on the Lower Eastside. A meal that killed his father and youngest brother. Though he seemed well on the way to mending, he died suddenly in the night. A grief to all of us, especially Wildlife Rehabilitator Cathy Horvath who had cared for him unstintingly. Here is Cathy's update.

As to my Hous, I am sorry to say that he passed away. He put up a gallant fight, but he was too sick for too long. His organs just shut down. I really in my heart thought that he would pull through. He was getting strong, the cankers were almost all gone, and he even started eating mice on his own. I can't even say in words how happy I was. Then one night I said goodnight to him, a few hours later I woke up and looked in on him and he had passed. It looked like something ruptured maybe down in his crop or his throat and he bled to death. That was such a shock to me. I thought he would be well and that he would fly again. It was horrible.

I have to say that this has been the hardest baby season that we have gone through in a long time. So much sickness. Lead foot is holding his own. He had gotten better with the leg and was eating well on his own finally...when something went wrong and he became neurological. So I had to bring him back inside to hand or force feed him again. It was like he forgot how to eat, and didn't recognize food. I don't know. I have put him outside again and he seems to be doing o.k. I don't know...I wish I had a magic wand to wave over everyone to make them all better, so if you come across one please bring it home for me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In my email to Cathy, I told her that I was so sorry that we, the Irregulars on this particular quest, Adam Welz, Francois Portmann, Jules Corkney, Peter, and myself weren't able to get Hous to her sooner and then perhaps he would have had a better chance.

Photograph by Francois Portman
There is also good news. Trib, Hous's foster brother, also released from rehab, is doing exceptionally well. Francois caught him cheekily stealing his mother's dinner, and having a grand time working on becoming an urban hawk. He's become quite the prince of Astoria Park. Here is Cathy again. This time about sighting Trib now named Buster by the Astoria community.

The day we released Hank, (More on Hank/Houston 2 coming up next. D.B.) when we were leaving the park I spotted Trib or Buster as you all call him now. He was sitting on a lift under the bridge just hanging out. I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and I yelled at Bobby...stop the car there is Trib !!!!!!!!!!!! He stopped and backed up, he asked me , how do you know that is Trib ? I said, “Look at that face...I would know it anywhere !!!!!!!!!!!!!” Sure enough... we waited a little while and everyone was taking pictures. The whole time he was standing on one foot. The left foot he had tucked up under himself. He was preening himself and looking at everyone looking at him, when he finally put the left foot down, there it was....the orange band !!! He looks beautiful. And it was funny, when I was looking through the camera lens at him, he cocked his head almost all the way upside down and was looking at me. I was saying to myself that he was looking at me as though to say...”Hey mom, where have you been?

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Cathy Horvath holds Hank/Houston 2, minutes before his release in Astoria Park.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Bobby, Sadie, and Cathy Horvath watch the newly released Hank. (Correction this isn't H2/Hank this is Trib/Buster.)

Photograph by Francois Portman
Hank/H2 was last sighted when he was released. Photographer Francois Portmann, who was there for the release, came back the next day to check on Hank and couldn't find him. James O'Brien of the Origin of the Species Blog also hunted to no avail. Hank had just vanished.

It's possible that since Hank was capable of feeding himself, he just took off for new less crowded hunting grounds, he'd been cooped up perhaps he needed an adventure, or that perhaps if he didn't beg and cue Athena and Atlas to foster him that they helped him on his way. Either way, he is no longer in Astoria Park, at least that anyone can find. Perhaps even, he flew up very high, saw his natal territory and decided he'd prefer the Lower Eastside and the company of his own mother. You never know.

Remember the adage--Never underestimate a Red-tail!

All Photographs of Athena of Astoria Park by Francois Portmann

The day after Hank's release when Francois went to look for him, he didn't find Hank but he did discover Athena taking a bath in the river. And here is Francois's beautiful sequence of the beautiful Athena's bath.

All photographs of Athena by Francois Portmann

Donegal Browne


Eleanor, NYC said...

At least Hous got so much loving care. Yes indeedy -- not a good year for young red-tails.

But so many people doing all they can to help.....

Karen Anne said...

Crumb. I really thought there would be a miracle. But he got wonderful care from so many people, and knew he was loved.

Anonymous said...

Too bad about one of the Houston Hawks passing away. I hope the last one makes it. I still see the mother sometimes flying high over Houston Street on the Lower East Side. I wonder if she will find another mate and have some more eggs again in another nest? Well thank you for the update.

Sally said...

Dear Donna,
Missed your posts while you were camping. Thanks for all the updates. Please let the Horvaths know we are all grateful for their loving care of the birds! It is so tough to lose one after so much care and effort, I know.

Donegal Browne said...

I'm very pleased and dare I say relieved, that you've seen the Houston female flying through her usual digs. She at least may have some resistance to frounce or knows to choose more wisely. And yes, she will find a new mate. In fact she no doubt has been looking over the eligible bachelors already and may even have chosen one.

There is a population of Red-tails lurking within the city just waiting for an opening within a territory.

Perhaps she and her new mate will choose to nest in the same spot or perhaps may decide that a change is in order and even attempt a tree nest in East River Park. I've been trying to figure out the criteria of why pairs choose where they do to nest and it seems to be complex and only they know what is the most important to them in any given season.

Keep an eye peeled for us would you? If you see her, note the day, time, and place and shoot off an email in our direction. If we get enough sightings from folks, we may well be able to pin down the nest site even if it's more hidden than it was this year.

Again, many thanks for the sighting!