Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Horvath Eagle News plus Crows for Sadie

Eagle photographs courtesy of The Horvaths

The juvenile American Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, currently under the Wildlife Rehabbing Horvath's care.

A note from Bobby Horvath--

I’m off to work but a quick huge thank you to all for your support and interest in the Eagle. We moved him outside over the weekend and he’s doing better. Still needs improvement with the feather situation but we're working on it. Again thank you…

Happy New Year to all,

Bobby, Cathy, and Sadie

I'd also sent an email along to Cathy to see how things were going at their facility. I'd thought that perhaps her tremendous load of responsibility for all the birds who needed help had surely slowed down at least a little since the rush of fledglings needing help during breeding season.

I was wrong.

And no doubt raptor biologist John Blakeman would have reminded me as he so often has reminded all of us about the dangers of a young bird's first winter just as Cathy Horvath did.

Cathy said that with the particularly tough cold weather that has hit New York it is even harder than ever for this year's youngsters to survive.

So the birds keep coming.

The other day a young female Merlin with a broken wing was retrieved, and a trip made to save another. Yesterday two Great Blue Herons who were found starving in the cold, one who didn't make it, but Cathy's busy feeding up the second.

Today brought a Dovekie covered in oil, and a young male Red-tail from the Bronx. Who knows what tomorrow may bring and all these are on top of the many patients being cared for already, including the young Bald Eagle.

And oh yes, we mustn't forget Skippity Doo Da the playful Fish Crow with the broken wing who plays tag and tug a war using a sock of Sadie's with her brand new long haired chihuahua puppy, Lobo.

Why, some might ask, would a little girl who lives in a place with all those other wonderful animals need a puppy? Well, as her mother told me, it is nice sometimes to have someone to snuggle with who doesn't have talons. Which, you must admit, is an excellent point.

Which brings me to my point, if anyone would like to make a last minute year end charitable contribution, the birds at the Horvaths, with all their special needs when it comes to food, let alone medications, could use your help.

You can send it right along to--


202 No. Wyoming Avenue

North Massapequa, NY 11758

Some weeks ago on a particularly blustery and bitter cold day in Wisconsin, I noticed that a family group of American Crows was sheltering in the lee of the Spruce tree. I few would go down to forage, while others would stay in the sheltered spot to keep watch and then they would switch. There were approximately 6 or 8 individuals in and out though out the short day.

But this I'd never seen before. Look at the two Crows with their heads softly leaning on each other. They weren't allo-preening, a behavior done by Crows much like that of social grooming in primates, in which a bird preens the head and neck of it's fellow. This I take to be a form of bird snuggling. One day I'll post the whole sequence.
I suspect the snuggling two to be the bonded reproductive pair of this Crow group. The alert Crows above and below keep watch for predators who might threaten those members in the yard or the pair intent on each other and give that couple a chance to deepen their bond. Which considering the rather nasty reputation that the species has gotten would seem quite out of character.

But it isn't at all. There are any number of family events for which the entire group collectively cooperates and dare I say it, enjoys.
For instance, as far as anyone who seriously watches Crow nests with identifiable Crows has seen, only the single female who lays the eggs, ever sits on the year's eggs. Not even the male takes a turn.
How does she eat? The extended group brings her food. During incubation, trips to the nest average about three or four food visits per day all tolled. But on the day that the eggs hatch, suddenly the average number of visits jumps to nineteen. And these aren't trips to feed the nestlings.
Why then? Well, serious researchers who don't come to these sorts of conclusions easily at all, have concluded that it looks very much like everyone in the family pays several visits that day because they want to look at the new babies.
It doesn't hurt the hypothesis either that Mom has a tendency, when the others arrive, perch nearby, and stare, to get off the nest so that they can see the chicks.
Rather like the parade of grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and close friends of the family who troupe through looking at a new human baby, don't you think?
Donegal Browne

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