Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Urban Renewal for Red-tail Nests Symposium is Now in Session

Photograph and update,
from Charlotte and Pale Male Jr. nest watcher, Brett Odom--
Both Junior and Charlotte have been making more frequent trips to the nest in the last few weeks. I even witnessed copulation on the top of 888 7th Ave. on Monday and yesterday I took the attached photo from my office. I think it is Charlotte leaving the nest with a branch, but all she did was circle a few times and then returned the branch to the nest (this was only a 135mm camera with no tripod so it's blurry, I plan on coming in over this weekend or next with my 400mm lens and tripod to take better photos). They both visit the actual nest, not just the building, several times a day so it does look like they will be returning to this nesting site this year. One of them is even sitting on the nest as I write this.

Brett Odom

There are now eight known Red-tail nests in Manhattan, some like the 888 nest and the Riverside Nest over the highway, are terrible spots for eyasses to fledge from.

Blog contributor and Hawk follower Robin of Illinois, was reading some old news items and sent in this reminder--

I was re-reading the articles from back when Pale Male's nest was taken down and spotted the paragraph below. I am wondering if anyone HAS provided platforms on their buildings to provide RTH nesting sites? (to hopefully include branching areas)

NY Times:Newly Homeless Above 5th Ave., Hawks Have Little to Build On

Published: December 9, 2004
"Mr. Benepe said he would be happy to see Pale Male pick a tree in Central Park for his new nest, but added that the prospect was not good because red-tailed hawks prefer the stability of building facades to tree limbs, which sway in the wind. He said he would encourage building owners in Manhattan to provide platforms that might be claimed by Pale Male or other red-tailed hawks in search of a safe place."

John Blakeman designed platforms for nesting Red-tails both for buildings and also for trees which didn't have suitable branches. But as far as I know, no building owners have as yet taken the initiative to give Red-tails more options in the nesting site area.

Well, folks perhaps we should put on our thinking caps, get our creativity out of our pockets, and take on a little initiative ourselves. Can anyone think of buildings that would make grand sites for Red-tail nests if only they had a platform installed? Start brainstorming and looking around. That is step number one.

According to Brett Odom, 888 Seventh Avenue have been very cordial Red-tail hosts, by doing such things as postponing window washing and the like. Unfortunately 888 is a tough neighborhood for fledgling eyasses, being it is some blocks removed from a green space. Though now that I think of it, perhaps if something were created on which the eyasses could branch near the nest for a few days, perhaps their flight skills would be more up to the challenge of getting to Central Park unscathed.

It's time to brainstorm folks. Send in your thoughts on possible sites and what could be done to make temporary branching areas. One never knows where it could lead!

Donegal Browne
P.S. Be sure and go over to the links section, click on The City Birder, and check out the post for March 5th. Rob Jett saw some very interesting behavior which may bear on one of my theories.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pale Male, Lola-Sticks on the Nest, Jr., and Charlotte

Pale Male atop the Carlyle Building, keeping an eye on the nest in a stiff wind.
Temperature: 43F. (It was supposed to be up to 54F. Tsk, tsk.)
Wind: Variable Gusts up to 40MPH

2:44PM The nest looks empty.

2:46PM The word goes up from the Bench. Pale Male has arrived on the Carlyle.

2:51PM Lo and behold, the nest isn't empty after all. Lola comes out of the bowl. According to the hawk watchers on the Bench today, no one has reported Lola staying the night yet but she certainly has begun to look nesty. It could happen any day now.
(UPDATE: Not only could it, it did. Lincoln Karim reports that Lola stayed on the nest this evening, Thursday, instead of leaving to roost elsewhere. The hatch countdown begins!)

2:57PM She stands in the bowl looking around for several minutes and then adjusts a few twigs.

2:58PM Then she gets back in with just her head showing and scopes the area, I'm wondering if she has an egg in there..

2:59PM Then she gets up, head in bowl and does something for about a minute. Turning an egg?

Pale Male is still on the Carlyle light.

3:07PM He's looking down at something very fixedly.

A pair of Mourning Doves are sitting below Pale Male on the railing of Shipshape. Have they noticed Pale? Evidently they have as when the second picture is taken, it is of an empty railing. But then Pale Male's spot on the Carlyle has also suddenly become empty. He's flown south on Madison Avenue.

Lola preens.

Then she watches something very high that can't be seen by humans on the Bench.
More preening.

Back into the bowl but only half down.

3:39PM Then she gets up turns and disappears into the nest. No Redtails in sight.

Though the Robins are at work. How far away can Spring be when the Robins are pulling worms?

A thank you to Brett Odom for sending in this current photo of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte's nest site at 888 7th Avenue. As you can see he has the optimum viewing spot. Which made me wonder just how Charlotte and Jr. were doing. Time to take a hike to the south end of the Central Park.

Fifth Avenue is on the one side of the park and the 888 nest is across the park and into the west side of town. I chose Central Park South to cross over, just in case Charlotte and Jr. might be doing some hanging around the old nest site on the Trump Parc. And to my surprise, upon looking up, there was a Red-tail circling. Possibly Junior.

Whoever it was, was circling into the trees and then out again. At least I thought so, but then I got the inkling that this was a larger bird. Charlotte?

Another pass.

Aha! It is Charlotte and Jr. and they are doing reverse circles with each other. One clockwise, the other counter clockwise.

They are beautiful and no doubt, well bonded.

Then off they go higher and further away, until they are out of sight.

Then from behind the Trump Parc, a V of geese appears.
Just one more sign of the Spring migration. Eggs, soon there will be eggs!
Donna Browne

Pale Male, Lola, Jr., and Charlotte Coming up Next!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Isolde Watches from the Nest, but just What is She Watching?

Isolde, on the nest, surrounded by scaffolding. 3/05/08

Previously I talked about how the scaffolding might come in downright handy for the eyasses to branch on when the time came but I didn't know how it might affect the adult's stealth access to the nest. So I sent off by question to Red-tail expert John Blakeman and here's what John had to say----


The birds will have no problems at all flying through and between the metal bars. They are widely spaced, more so than many small branches that surround many nests.

No concerns whatsoever.

--John Blakeman

(That's certainly good news. -Donna)

8:25am My daughter Samantha was hot-footing it to an 8:30 appointment near St. John's when a Red-tail cruised over her head and then took off south into the trees, towards the Cathedral. She grabbed her camera and shot blind but the hawk is in there somewhere.

11:08am Then when she came out there was a hawk circling higher and higher above Morningside Park.

And as I'd asked her to take a few photographs of the nest, she did. But she didn't realize until she sent the photos to me and I looked at them...

...that Isolde was on the nest. What is she doing?

She's watching, one assumes, New Guy fly higher and higher. Okay, then what is he doing?

Isolde continues to watch fixedly.

And then after enlarging and searching diligently in the clouds, I discovered the answer. There are two Red-tailed hawks up there. Which ones? And for what?
Donegal Browne

Monday, March 03, 2008

ALERT: Triboro Formel is Missing, Plus The Blackwater Eagles Have a Hatch!

Note the rusty coloring of the Isolde's shoulders compared with her belly band for later.

As is often the case in the world of raptors, there is good news and bad news.
Bobby Horvath has been contacted by one of the main hawkwatchers of the Triboro Bridge nest. The formel of that pair is missing. If anyone has any information about the Triboro female, please get in touch and I’ll pass the word along.

In fact, we’ve been talking about creating some kind of system in which all information on sightings of disabled raptors, missing raptors, and raptors taken in to vets and rehabilitators could be communicated to one central point. Until we figure it out, (suggestions welcome) please send that information in to me, let others know to do it as well, and I’ll do my best to get it to those concerned.

Earlier I was looking at the photo of the Riverside Park female on author and Pale Male namer, Marie Winn’s website, Saturday’s post--

And you know what? To me that formel looks very much like she could be the daughter of Tristan and Isolde. See the shape and pale brow similar to Tristan combined with the rusty color coming down and forward over her shoulder onto her breast like Isolde?

If anyone notices her tucking a foot far more than the usual Red-tail, except Tristan of course, do please let me know.

And here's the link in from Eagle Watcher and blog contributor Robin, in Illinois--The first photos of the first Blackwater Eaglet of the season! What a diminutive (but not for long) fluff ball.

Donna Browne
P.S. This is the second post of the day so if this is your first look of the day, keep scrolling down for more of today.

Cathedral Hawk Report from Ludie Stern, What About All That Scaffolding?, and EYASS WATCH

Isolde takes some sun.
Hawkwatcher Ludie Stern checked out the doings at the Cathedral on her lunch hour today. And yes, I did see copulation last Thursday, if today was any measure. Ludie watched the act yet again this afternoon, on the north-most green roof of the Plant Pavilion, a portion of St. Luke's Hospital. The hawks did not then sit together as some of the other pairs do regularly after copulation. But rather, as they did on Thursday, kept to separate perches immediately after copulation.

New Guy keeps his back turned.

The scaffolding surrounding St. Andrew and the nest.

Will Simmons of Fort Worth, asked--

Scaffolding around the nest statue was mentioned on one of the Hawk blogs. I don't remember which. Do you have a photo? Will the scaffolding be a problem?


To tell you the truth, as Isolde has not gone to sit a nest as yet, we can't be positive that the hawks will use the St. Andrew nest. Though as far as I know, no one has reported seeing them work on an alternative site.

It’s my thought that if the current scaffolding were too big a problem for the hawks, that they might well reject the current site and quick whip up a new nest in another location. That is, if they could find a good alternative site. In most territories that isn’t any easy task, in fact often nearly impossible, but the Cathedral and St. Luke’s Hospital buildings are both older decorative buildings which have a greater chance of supplying possible sites.

It isn’t known if the scaffolding will stay in its current configuration through the breeding season, or how much work might be done near the nest in the coming months. Our hope is that everyone concerned will be sensitive to the hawks needs.

It’s my thought that if the current scaffolding were too big a problem for the hawks, that they might well reject the current site and quick whip up a new nest in another location. That is, if they could find a good alternative site. In most territories that isn’t any easy task, in fact often nearly impossible, but the Cathedral and St. Luke’s hospital are both older decorative buildings which have a greater chance of supplying possible sites.

It isn’t known if the scaffolding will stay in its current configuration through the breeding season, or how much work might be done near the nest in the coming months. Our hope is that everyone concerned will be sensitive to the hawks needs.

On the plus side, the scaffolding might give the eyasses something that has been missing from the current nest site in the past. It might give them a place for “branching” experiences.

This is the phase of experience that tree nest eyasses have but most building bred eyasses don’t. Tree eyasses are able to experience short hop flights between branches while safely above ground and still return to the nest until they can actually fly well enough to gain elevation. Rather than finding themselves seriously grounded as happens with many urban eyasses fresh from the nest. Building eyasses often find themselves on a sidewalk, in the street, or other unsafe place and must find a path to bushes or small trees where they can then “branch” themselves high enough to avoid danger.

In these cases the parents are perfectly aware of the location of their stranded progeny, and usually the youngster landed just fine but after a few trees at getting into the air unsuccessfully, she hasn’t the slightest idea where to go to find some branches to climb up. The parents are vigilant, they see the problem but they don’t have the equipment to pick the eyass up and take them to safety. All they can do is watch.

Last season I spoke with Glenn Phillips, executive director of the New York City Audubon Society, about the need for an organized Eyass Watch for those nests which we know there can be real problems for the first few days after fledged eyasses have made their big maiden flight off the nest. And example of a nest that must be watched is that of Jr. and Charlotte at 888 Seventh Avenue. There was also the day when I arrived to watch the Cathedral nest and found one of the eyasses on the sidewalk, on the wrong side of the tall chain link fence that surrounds the nest site area. He ended up in the street; we stopped traffic.-- See the archives for the full story-
and scroll down to 6/20/06

Many thanks go to Glenn Phillips and NYC Audubon for taking steps to organize a structured Eyass Watch for the upcoming season.

Donegal Browne

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Geese and Lost In Yonkers with the Rough-legged Hawks

Six inches of new snow in the Peekskills and we can hear the Woodpecker but somehow, we just can't find the elusive Peekskill Pileated. Though I have to admit, whoever cares for this State Park certainly knows how to attract wood knockers. There is no "cleaning up" these woods. The dead trees are allowed to stand and there are cavities everywhere. The place is downright infested with Woodpeckers. We'll just keep walking and perhaps a Pileated with pop out a head.

Then I realize that there are six Canada Geese across the way, standing around in the snow. Doesn't seem like a terrific idea. What's to eat? Shouldn't they be someplace else?

No actually as it turns out. The streams run fast and feed into the lake and then there are enough spillways so that there is open water.

Though I do note that this member of the flock has one of his webbed tootsies firmly tucked into his down. He's no dummy.

Yes, there are six. I always have to count geese-- in particular. Three pairs. No one has lost a mate. This is silly of course because it's always possible that one of the youngsters from last year hasn't gotten a mate yet and is just hanging with the parents if there is an odd number, or any number of other reasons--like I just don't see them all-- but somehow even numbers make me more comfortable with geese. No possibility of goose grief that way. I said it was silly.

Okay, did I count wrong? That looks like five.

And that looks like a full goose guarding nothing but a goose head.

Ah, the goose head must be connected to a full goose as it's disappeared of it's own volition, but it's still looking like five. What happened?

The goose on the far right turns out to be geese.

One neck curves over.

And the goose tenderly places her bill under the gander's chin. Well, in the place where a mammal has a chin anyway. Avian species not being terrifically prone to chins.

The geese begin to move off, yes there are six if one counts the portion sticking our from behind the toppled snow man. The Pileated taunts us again. Off we go.

Back to the second spill way,

..where two obviously country ducks, instead of swimming over for a snack as would most likely be sensible, we being humans with who knows what goodies in our pockets, they flush out of the water, and zip back in the direction of the geese. Safety in numbers, you know.

Then, BAM, there are three hawks circling above. Three Rough-legged Hawks as it turns out, all dark morphs with the very apparent white patches on their underwings. See the teeny spot center? None were cooperative about having their photo taken.

But it's getting late and tomorrow morning we'll be going back into the city. Possibly no Pileated after all, unless morning brings one, and little chance of another Roughie either.
Boy, was I wrong.
Well, you see, we got lost in Yonkers...
And not only did we take a wrong turn somewhere that took us into Downtown Yonkers, but at least at first we were proceeding in roughly the right direction, but then suddenly, or it seemed sudden to me, a policeman backed by numerous huddled fire engines made all of us make a U turn and go the opposite direction down a very narrow street with tenement buildings with stores on the ground floors. I'm looking at the old buildings with their external fire escapes and, Wow, look at that--There's a hawk coming off that fire escape. It's got to be a Red-tail as she does a Pale Male and flies completely unconcerned to the fire escape across the street. But, it isn't an urban Red-tail. No belly band, the breast and belly are dark, but there are those white patches on the underwing! She's an Urban Rough-legged Hawk.
Either that or she's Lost In Yonkers, too.
I'm in moving traffic, no way to get a picture. Drat, drat, drat!
But I'm thinking about the possibility of Rough-legged Hawks going urban, anyway. I was told the other day by the local rapter rehabber in Wisconsin, while we stood by the dairy case choosing yogurt at the Piggley Wiggley, that Roughies have little feet. They eat rodents, and that's about it as they can't catch larger prey. Their feet are too small. Cities certainly have mice and young rats...

We do manage to go some blocks out of the main traffic of downtown Yonkers, get ourselves turned around, and then of course, we're stopped by a traffic light. But it is completely fortuitous. Because I look up-- See the wires on the right side of the poles. Now find the largest triangle formed by them. Look center, and--that tiny speck is a hawk. And as I'm stopped at a light, I can grab the camera. And guess what kind of hawk she is?

He's an Urban Roughie. Possibly the mate to the first?
Donegal Browne