Friday, November 28, 2008

Red-tail Update-Jay works the Tulsa Nest, The Portmann Hood Hawks

Screen Captures courtesy of KJRH and Donna Johnson
Jay carefully surveys the nest. Some of my favorite hawk moments come while watching a hawk scrutinize their nest for possible upcoming improvements. They stand and stare sometimes for several minutes. Then perhaps they'll be some walking about as if to test how things are shaping up.

Notice that this has now been seriously worked on since last season. Not only has last years nesting material been reordered and put into place, but fresh building material has been added.

Courtesy of Donna Johnson
The sides of the bowl are higher and if you look carefully you'll see a leafy twig. It is visible just below the top rail to the right of the masonry.

Courtesy of Donna Johnson
As is often the case, it isn't as easy as one might think to keep the two hawks straight when it comes to which is which. So I thought we could take a look at Jay for possible distinguishing markings.

Photograph by Donna Johnson

White brows aren't all that rare but Jay's white brows are are very distinct and contrasting. Also note that the white continues down over his nose, under his eyes, and into the commonly light area of the front of the neck.

Another individual marker can be the distance the head coloration travels forward onto the breast.

In certain light, the belly band of Isolde and Tristan of the Cathedral couldn't be used for identification. The bands were too similar, in those moments the shoulder coloration was often used as the deciding ID marker.

Speaking of the belly band, Jays tends to be a sequence of a few indistinct dots and in some positions and in some light, it is barely discernible at all.

I've asked Tulsa Hawkwatcher Donna Johnson if she'll send in some captures of Kay as well. We'll try for some compare and contrast of both birds markings for, I hope, easy, fast, and a no miss identification in the future.

(One day I'll tell you some stories about active discussions from the Hawkbench concerning which bird, Pale Male or Lola, was actually sitting the Fifth Ave. nest. Sometimes it just isn't easy.)

Photograph by Francois Portmann of

Professional Photographer Francois Portmann returned to town, only to find that suddenly hawks seemed to be hanging out in his neighborhood--and he couldn't have been happier about it.

I believe the Red-tailed Hawk on the pinnacle is the very good sized formel with light eyes. She could be having her first breeding season coming up this Spring.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
For the longest time I could almost have sworn that Pale Male had pockets. He'd land on the nest without any one of us seeing that he'd carried prey in. Then he'd present Lola with any number of meaty prey items that he'd managed to carry to the nest virtually invisibly.

Notice how well the hawk above has tucked the pigeon up against her spread tail with her talons. With this terrific shot by Francois which freezes the moment, one can see exactly how it's done.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Here's that big girl of a Red-tail. Notice how light her eyes are.

And to round things out, what neighborhood can be complete without a Sharp-shinned Hawk?


1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

Tucking the prey up, that may help aerodynamically, I'm thinking...