Sunday, December 28, 2008

Francois' Friday Catch, Plus Guess What Was in the Tulsa 2007 Nest Besides Eggs?

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Here she is again! The Thompkins-Square-Park-winter-resident-juvenile-female or Valkyrie for short.

You have to admit the full identifier is a lot of typing or talking every time you want to specify which bird she is. Particularly when the name Valkyrie, and her style truly typifies her take-no-prisoners-personality. Look at the flight shots and tell me you can't hear Wagner in the background.

Photograph by Francois Portmann

There is no question in my mind at least, that this bird has a sweet spot for Francois as she always puts on a show for him.

Mr. Portmann said, "She is a curious bird as you'll see." Indeed she is, as this photograph shows. Her eyes are in mid-flash, as she latches onto a twig in a squirrel's drey. Obviously the squirrel isn't home, but just as a house cat will imagine prey, the chase, and the catch, so she appears to do as well.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Off she goes again. Look at that focus and energy. And while you're
looking, note the dark patagial mark. (In eastern Red-tails the dark patch on the top edge of the underwing between the bottom of the neck/beginning of wing and the carpals is a species field mark.)

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Here she goes for a skulk across the roof. Eventually most Red-tails learn that sitting patiently in just the right spot works the best in real hunting, but I suspect the younger ones have to get in some dry practice/play before they're able to execute the proper moves. She rather looks like she is sneaking up on that arched inanimate object.

Now how might you know that this bird is a juvenile if you didn't see the color of her tail?

Juveniles have shorter wings and longer tails than adults, therefore their wing tips fall short of their tail tip.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Valkyrie banks into a turn and cocks her tail for brakes.
We all know what the tail feathers look like, but what about the little feathers that together create light and dark stripes just above the tail feathers?
Those are the upper tail coverts.
And the dark area above the upper tail coverts?
The rump.
Photograph by Francois Portmann
The always interesting urban hawk position when one wonders if they are watching something in particular through the windows?
The soaps?
Or using their peripheral vision and not looking forward at all?
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Wow. I believe this wing position is often used by sculptors for Archangels and Valkyries.
Photograph by Francois Portmann
And what have we here?
Francois reports that while Valkyrie was hunting one corner of the park, this red tailed male was hunting another. Though considered a mature Red-tailed Hawk, he looks just over the line as his eyes are still quite light. A two year old perhaps, like Norman of the Morningside Park Hawks was last season?
(Also note the patagial mark on this hawk. He's lighter so it's perhaps clearer.)
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Here he is again.
Look, the wingtips are down there with the tail tips
Photograph by Francois Portmann
And here comes the flight of a Valkyrie...
Baa, pah, pah, baaa, pah
Baa, pah, pah, baaa, pah
Baaa, pah, pah, baaaaa

Photograph by Francois Portmann
And she still looks to have enough energy to do it all over again.
Screen Capture March 27, 2007, Video courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa
Photographer and Tulsa Hawkwatcher Cheryl Cavert was browsing and guess what she discovered laying with last season's pre-hatched eggs?
One and a half Sycamore fruits.
It's a repeated action in that particular Tulsa nest and it's been observed at least once in a NYC nest.
The Sycamore Fruit Plot thickens.
Donegal Browne
P.S. More on the Tennessee sludge spill from R. of Illinois and Karen of Rhode Island--


Anonymous said...

Glad you're back!


Anonymous said...

Is the Hawk named "Valkyrie" for Tom Cruise or for Brunhilda?

Donegal Browne said...

As in Brynhildr, Sigrún, Kára, Mist, Róta, Sculd, Sigrdrifa and the rest of the beautiful battlefield goddesses of Norse Mythology.

In Old Norse Valkyrie means "chooser of the slain".

Which the Thompkins Square juvenile winter resident female Red-tailed Hawk certainly is as she swoops full bore through the park "choosing" prey.