Friday, October 17, 2008


Hurrah! News from Tulsa Hawkwatcher and photographer Cheryl Cavert on Kay and Jay of the KJRH Tower nest!

Hi Donna,

As I was driving home yesterday around 4:15 pm, I noticed a hawk-like shape on Jay's favorite high perching pole at the KJRH Tower in Tulsa. I parked and took a few pictures to look at later on the computer - as with the gun-metal grey skies, I could not tell for sure if it was Jay or not. It looked like it was probably Jay and after watching him preen for a couple of minutes, I decided to park a couple of blocks away to the north, a position that provides a good view of the tower without straining the neck!

As I drove to my new position, I could see another possible hawk-like bird circling in closer from the west. I quickly parked and hopped out with my camera and binoculars - and yes, it is definitely a red tail hawk. She circled closer then landed on the KJRH nesting platform. Jay glanced up and also took off from his slightly lower perch, circling around to also land on the nesting platform.

I could see their heads bobbing up and down occasionally like they were engaged in some nest keeping duties. I went back to the south base of the tower and as I arrived, Jay prepared to leave, circling off the northwest towards the Arkansas River. After a couple more minutes of nest duties, Kay also flew off, soaring to the northwest into the treeline Jay disappeared into.

The area in Riverparks (southwest of the KJRH tower) the recent observations of Jay occurred (ie. Jay riding the Prairie Wolves), is now under heavy daily construction. In the past couple of weeks tree workers have also done a bit of tree trimming, including trees I have seen the RTs perched in at various times, as well as removal of dead trees and stumps. However, the big one I have seen a RT and a bald eagle perched on at different times is still standing near the edge of the river bank. So maybe Kay and Jay are enjoying Riverparks a little further north where it is a bit quieter right now.

I will keep looking for further nest/courtship behavior as well as photographing whatever local urban hawks I come across, hoping to spot Thunder!

Go get 'em Cheryl! It's very exciting to see Kay and Jay at the nest possibly considering just what might need fixing up for this season. Thank you for you sightings and photos. Hawk Season is beginning earlier this year now that we know this pair.

I began to wonder just how much earlier and emailed Catbird, of the Tulsa Forum for the relevant dates for Kay and Jay from last season so I could compare them with those of Pale Male and Lola and that of Isolde and Tristan of the Cathedral at St. John the Divine.

Here is a portion with some of my thoughts on the matter from my email.

" As to early... Well, I'm thinking that in Tulsa, you'd need to get your babies out of the nest and well along before it gets too hot and the prey base suffers.

What Kay and Jay are probably doing at the moment is adding to the nest which can go on for a bit. Also Jay has to present at least two nest sites to Kay so she can have a choice. Lets hope she chooses the TV tower!

Some believe that nesting in RTs, cycles with the birth of prey litters. I don't know when there are major births of rabbits, squirrels, voles, etc. in Oklahoma but I'm betting it's before the grass burns off in summer. Pigeons and rats reproduce whenever there is enough food, though in cold climes in winter the young don't always make it."

And here are the stats that Catbird sent back--


Both eggs had been laid by March 3 (Thunder's egg laid first, earlier), and Thunder hatched March 31, and Thunder fledged on May 24th.


Looking back at my notes and at the "History of the Fifth Avenue Red-tailed Hawks as of 2/23/05 For the Cult of the Pale Male" by James Lewis, I'd say that Kay and Jay are two weeks if not more, ahead of Pale Male and Lola on Fifth Avenue and about a month ahead of the St. John the Divine Cathedral nest.

For Cheryl and the other Tulsa Hawkwatchers, keep an eye peeled for the bringing of twigs. That will become more and more frequent as time goes by. I'd be interested to know if Kay also brings twigs to the nest. Pale Male tends to bring the lion's share of twigs to 927 Fifth Avenue but Lola is the one who tends to strip the bark and gather dried grasses for the bowl itself.

When it comes to Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte, Central Park's Southern hawks, both birds bring twigs regularly.

If you're diligent in watching, you are likely to see Kay and Jay copulating in January. (They make a vocalizationg during the act that sounds remarkably like gulls.) Mark the date as it is usually about a month from our first sighting of Pale Male and Lola copulating to the first egg being laid.

Also keep your eyes on the sky for the courtship display, which will occur before copulation. Jay will do some swooping flights. Then both Kay and Jay will circle, counterclockwise to each other. And as their hormones surge ever stronger usually, first the male will dangle his legs and white thighs and then the female does it. Some birds will then slowly drift down to a perch and copulate.

So much to look forward to! And I know Cheryl will be out there with her camera searching the skies as will other Tulsa watchers. Send us all the news folks, we can't wait!

Donegal Browne

P.S. At to Thunder, we suspect that in urban areas some juveniles of the previous year do stick around though they are unlikely to be allowed inside their parent's territory during actual breeding season.

Don't despair, during this time of year, we have often seen the bonded pairs flying with other Red-tails high in the sky that we suspect are their young from previous years.

And if there is open territory near that of Kay and Jay's and a handsome male happens along in a year or two to claim it, you never know, the Mom may turn out to be Thunder.

We suspect that Pale Male Jr., Tristan previously of the Cathedral Nest, and the female Intrepid/Caroline of the Riverside nest are either children or grandchildren of Pale Male.

P.P.S. My apologies, due to other responsibilites I'm very behind in responding to email but I'm working on it.

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