Monday, December 15, 2008

Francois' Thompkins Square Red-tailed Hawk and Monday's Miscellany of Mysteries

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Neighbors had reported sightings of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in Thompkins Square Park. Saturday photographer and hawkwatcher Francois Portmann caught this wonderful hawk vs squirrel sequence.

Photo by Francois Portmann

She sees something.

Photo by Francois Portmann

Lands. Keeps her focus.

Photo by Francois Portmann
Young hawk goes for the squirrel. And typically the squirrel escapes the hawk by going to the other side of the branch.

Photo by Francois Portmann
And my favorite squirrel tactic, she hangs from the bottom of the branch directly under the hawk.
Photo by Francois Portmann
Young hawk, having likely experienced all this before, flies to a perch to wait.
If there are two cooperating hawks, they can hunt a squirrel in a tree with a reasonable expectation of success.
It's quite difficult for a single hawk working alone, though not completely impossible if the squirrel is inattentive, to catch one. The single hawk's best tactic is to sit quietly until the squirrel, hawk hopes, forgets about him, goes down the tree, and begins to scamper on the ground. Snap! Squirrel lunch.
Francois reports that while this juvenile was perched, another juvenile Red-tailed Hawk flew by flushing all the pigeons in the park, while Hawk One called from her perch.
PLUS--Hawkwatcher and bloggist Rob Schmunk caught Isolde and Norman in Morningside Park within sight of the Cathedral Nest roosting in the same tree. Check it out--
Adding to the need-for-calcium conversation, Squirrel rehabber Carol Vinzant, wrote this comment--

City squirrels can also develop a calcium deficiency. especially if they get too much people food. In the wild they'll gnaw on the bones of dead animals in the forest. I guess that's one downside to city living.
After reading Carol's comment, I looked into the Grey Squirrel's need for Calcium and found that bird mineral blocks, because the Calcium/Phosphorus levels are proper for both kinds of creatures, can be given to squirrels. I got one of Quicksilver's stock of mineral blocks, went out, and wired it up for the squirrels. By the time I got up this morning there was nothing left of the block but a bit of powder in the snow. Guess they liked it. Perhaps a mineral block might make a nice Christmas gift for your local squirrels.
Pyewackit the Cat alerted me to the two bunnies eating seed in the feeding area in the middle of the night. One mystery about the rabbits, is that even though I can follow their tracks, I've yet to be able to find their holes due to the sheer number of overlapping tracks.
(For perspective the duck is a foot high.)
A few feet from the feeding area, some small creature has created an opening in it's tunnel in the snow for easy access. No sight of the little creature as yet.
Peer inside and you can see the tunnel is under the snow but above the grass.
Yes folks, the crows yet again have stolen Blossom's charcoal briquette eyes. Notice they left her charcoal briquette nose attached. Why? Are they sitting around a nice warm charcoal fire singing bawdy crow songs and telling dirty crow jokes? But then why didn't they steal her nose?
As per usual, I marched out and gave Blossom a couple of new "eyes". Why? Because it's boring out there if you can't see!
Later? No eyes on Blossom again but I found them lying at the base of Blossom's tuffit. Guess what? Now her nose was missing. (I can tell it was her nose that was missing because it had a glaze of ice on it. See photo one up.)
I'm beginning to think the crows are just messing with me.
Donegal Browne

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