Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mystery Hawk, B.C. Chickadee Smashes into Glass, and Can Finnegan Survive Release?

One again the big tree behind Dollar General has a hawk in it. And a hawk that is being mobbed by a contingent of small birds.

She's big and from a distance I think she might be an immature Red-tail. But once I get some magnification I can see that she doesn't have an RT belly band plus there are also lateral striations of color on her breast. But then again from the underside her tail looks yellow. I can't get behind her as the land on that side is private.

Oh boy, it's another confusing immature hawk!

I only have one possible position camera position ,which I'm hoping will be palatable to her and she won't fly off right away. I figure if I stay in the Dollar General parking lot, a place where many humans go back and forth and never notice her, that I should be able to get a few photos and a reasonable look, before the big blow-off country hawks always give me.

But the view is horribly obscured. I decide to cheat over a little and see if she'll stay.

One photo and she takes to the sky. Hawk is a young bird and doesn't have the flight technique of an adult. She is also a very big girl.
What kind is she? Well, I don't see any rufous on her shoulders but I also don't see a Red-tail hawk type belly band. She could be an immature of Whistle's line. And Whistle is a Krider's Red-tail which could mean this immare just doesn't have diddley for a belly-band but is still a Red-tailed hawk. She does have the dark lower face/neck patch common to both young Red-tails and immature Red-shouldered Hawks. I'm thinking she's one or the other. If pressed I might say Red-tail but hmmm. I don't know--those striations? I'm open to correction. By the way, her eyes look to be a dark caramel color.
Anybody out there able to nail her species?
Black-capped Chickadee has just smashed into the patio door. This is the first observed case in three years. I believe she is one of the local pair and I've no idea what caused her to change her usual safe escape route.
She hit the door and instead of falling to the ground, thank goodness, she was able to rebound and land on the wire. But she is open mouthed and seemingly stunned as she would never stay in this position with me in her view otherwise.
Chickadee continues to hold on and stare.

Oh, no, this looks bad! Beyond instantaneous death from a broken neck, birds who fly into windows, sometimes rupture an internal air sac. With each breath air escapes through the rupture. It is then trapped within the body, under the skin, where the swelling continues to grow larger with each breath until the pressure kills the bird or the rupture manages to seal itself.. Though it is difficult for the body to repair the sac when the bird is so highly stressed from the injury and or incapacitated.
I watch for swelling. On two occasions in the past I've come across a pigeon who was suffering from this injury. Due to swelling from a ruptured sac, the front of their neck/upper breast had swollen so intensely that their heads were being pushed over backwards to rest on their backs.
At that time I had no one who would treat a pigeon with a serious problem. It was up to me and as it was an emergency, I got a sterile needle and put antiseptic on the swollen area. I then pressed the needle carefully under the skin and pulled up ever so slightly to stretch the hole open. Air came out a little like what happens when you get a hole in a tire. The air escaped under pressure. Both birds felt a lot better and helped themselves to a snack and water. In one case, one treatment was sufficient to give the rupture a chance to heal itself. In the other case, the treatment had to be performed twice. Both birds recovered and were released.

But what about Chickadee?

Well, her eyes are open now, anyway. And her beak is closed. Both seem like good signs but so far she doesn't look like she has focused on what is in her field of view.
Here we go. This looks better.
She's faded slightly in her alertness.
Fading further.
Suddenly alert again, she sees something above the house or on the roof. Was there or is there a predator on the roof that caused her to fly towards the house and hence smack into the glass?
She no longer seems interested in my presence.

She pauses with her back towards me. This is very unusual.

Ah, ha! Shes made it up to the perch. Excellent!

She's still keeping an eye on the roof. While I was changing camera batteries she managed to get to the top of the wire and then flew off smartly. So far, so good.

Later in the day, two Chickadees were at the feeder like usual. So I assume after being stunned she's now just fine. Look. Notice that she too is using Nuthatch's technique of grabbing the feeder on the fly.

But she doesn't even bother to then go to the perch. Better to look for the largest sunflower seeds in that position.

The feeder swings and she goes about her business as if nothing has happened.

NYC Riverside Park Squirrel returns for another nut.
Note the dirty paws, soiled from burying previous nuts. He's one of the little charmers who does very well in the park.
Remember Finnegan of yesterday's post? The orphaned squirrel who started out by being fed by a human until the dog of the family decided to feed him?
Sally of Kentucky left this question in the Comments section--
Poor squirrel can't be released, can it? Wouldn't it be way too likely to be killed by a dog,
not having a healthy fear of them? It probably isn't afraid of humans, either?
Blog contributor, and intrepid squirrel rehabber Carol Vinzant tells me that squirrels let you know when they are ready to be released. One day, they'll be nursing from the bottle, snuggling into your lap, and the next suddenly change. When ready to go, they don't want to have anything to do with the human who has been caring for them. They seem heavily wired to "go" and they do. It doesn't look like squirrels imprint incorrectly nearly as easily as many birds species do.
I've not had any experience with squirrels raised with dogs dogs so I don't know the issues involved, but a relative once took in a very young orphaned raccoon. She also had two St. Bernards at the time. The raccoon wouldn't leave the huge dogs alone. She wanted to sleep with them. The St. Bernards were very gentle with her and would walk around the house with the young raccoon in their mouths. They didn't bite her and she didn't bite them.
When the dogs asked to go outside, it was a line of three, first dog, second dog, and third--little raccoon.
Eventually, the raccoon decided to spend the night in the garage. Then she began to leave for a few days, come back in the middle of the night, open the back door herself, help herself to some dog chow, and leave again. This went on for some years with longer and longer absences on her part. For whatever reason, she must have known "her humans" and "her dogs" and was wary enough of the others to survive in the wild.
The second link that Catbird included in her contribution talks of the successful release of Finnegan--

SEATTLE — Finnegan, the orphaned squirrel, has found a new family. But he didn't go in a hurry.
In early September, when he was a newborn, animal lover Debby Cantlon started caring for him, even before his eyes opened. He soon got famous after television cameras captured images of Cantlon's dog letting him nurse alongside her pups.
When Finnegan was 8 weeks old, Cantlon decided it was time for him to return to the outdoors and started letting him outside.He'd run around but stay close in her yard in Seattle. And every night he'd scratch at a window or door to be let back in.
Then one day he didn't come back – except for an occasional visit, his last on Thanksgiving day.
"He just wanted me to know he was OK. He's wild and free and happy and doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing,” Cantlon said.
Cantlon, who has cancer, says caring for animals is a therapeutic activity.


Sally said...

I hope you get to see the RT again! Sure looks like a pale RT doesn't she? And is she is big enough that you think she is a female RT, I can't imagine a immy red shouldered being that large? Looking at pictures of Pale Male January 11 and 29 2008 on Lincoln's site, you know, he has similar shaped face/head, and markings around the head, and the markings on his belly band feathers is also similar. You can't really see around to her front and the branch is obstructing, too, to see if she has a pale band hiding there in the fluff. I can imagine she might, though. Good luck! I love mysteries, don't you?

I hope Finnegan is happy. Glad to hear squirrels don't imprint as easily.

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Sally,

The hawk reminded me of Pale Male as well. As to size, she seems large but she, no doubt, is fluffed up against the chilly weather. I looked for her today but didn't see her. I'm definitely going to keep a sharp eye out as I can't wait to get another look at her.