Thursday, January 08, 2009

Brett Odom Finds the Date, Pale Male and Lola, NYTimes Nature News, Plus the Tulsa Red-tails: How to tell Kay from Jay from Thunder

Photograph Donegal Browne
4/22/08 Lola waits for Pale Male to rise from the bowl of the nest.

Southern Central Park and Downtown Hawkwatcher Brett Odom, did yeoman's duty and searched though the Spring, 2008 archives of searching for the reference to the unattended nest episode. Here is Brett's report--

I scoured Lincoln's archives and found the exact date. It was March 29th and PM & Lola left the nest unattended for 11 minutes according to the posting (not sure what time of day it was). Lincoln does not state why. Going back over each day of his archives does reveal a lot with regard to their behavior. There are several instances where he says that Lola sits on the nest for hours without a break or food being brought by PM. Perhaps during some of those instances Lola had to leave the nest unattended to feed herself.

Brett B. Odom

Photograph courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
January 7, 2009,
After the Holidays, Still on the Lam
Sewell Chan AND Jennifer 8. Lee

(Sent to the blog by long time reader and contributor Bill Walters.)

I believe there are several Central Park Turkeys and beyond those mentioned in the article there is also Hedda Gobler up in Morningside Park. (It is north of Central Park.) She is a neighbor of Isolde and Norman, who's Red-tail territory includes Morningside Park.

Photograph courtesy of Peter Kayafas

A Red-Tailed Tableau at Bethesda Fountain

"Oh, my God!”

The tour guide leading two dozen high school-aged visitors through Central Park on Thursday morning stopped dead in mid-narration at Bethesda Fountain. There, on the right hand of “Angel of the Waters,” perched a red-tailed hawk. It looked as if it were naturally part of the sculpture — except for the radiant glow of its plumage against the statue’s muted bronze.


I particularly like the last line. .

Stage Manager and avid newspaper reader Bill Walters discovered this April 3, 2008, story in the New York Times archive. I'd certainly like to see that hawk's belly band to see if it was Lola for certain. But as it is April, and breeding season with the territorial boundaries harden, it could be Lola. In winter that area and the Ramble across the Lake are destinations for any number of Red-tailed hawks that fly in from their usual residences to partake of Central Park's deep prey base.


Many thanks to Tulsa's Cheryl Cavert for the use of her very helpful photographs, and to "Other Donna" of the Tulsa Forum for gleaning the shots that showed the mid-sections of the birds, and sending them on to me.

1/01/09 Kay

Notice her belly band, her "ankles", and a female's slightly larger beak. Because of the angle her belly band appears quite low on her torso. The band appears here as jagged streaks.

The particular head position that shows the length of the beak can be quite helpful as a possible clue to the sex of the bird but not completely definitive except for a very few infallible raptor experts such as Hermione Parry-Jones.

And the angle here makes her belly band appear further up her breast.
The wind is ruffling her anterior feathers. Note how suddenly they appear more dot like and less streaked.


We're back to streaks as there is no wind, and here you can see the shoulder wash of color.

12/19/08 Kay
Here the shoulder wash isn't visible, there is a mixed streak and dot pattern, and because of the different light, here here belly band appears paler than before. Even taking into account the varying light, her band is darker than either Thunder's or Jay's.

12/24/08 Kay from the back. Note the eyebrow is visible but nearly as light as Jay's

Jay has a slightly smaller beak, fluffier feathers on his head, and skinnier ankles if you could see them.

He is in bright sunlight so his already light belly band appears next to nonexistent.


It's often hard to tell individuals apart by their backs but look at how light Jay's eyebrow is compared to Kay's, one photo up. Yes, Jay's head is lighter, than Kay's and he is slightly smaller but unless they were sitting together it would be difficult to positively ID them from those characteristics without direct comparison.

11/18/08 Thunder

We know that Thunder being a juvenile has lighter eyes than the other two but it is not apparent in the photo. Therefore check the tail. Not rusty red and just discernible--the horizontal stripes of a juvenile.

Thunder's belly band has a tendency to appear more often dotted than streaked even without the ruffling of wind. Her band is darker than her father's and lighter than her mother's.

12/25/08 Thunder

Check out the saturation of color between her head and back. Juveniles have more of a tendency for the head, neck, and back to appear matched. Though by no means a cut and dried field mark for a young bird.

Christmas Eve
Kay and Jay have very similar posterior coloration and pattern.

How sweet is this? Bonded pairs do spend time together in the off season. These two are even touching as they perch.

Which is which?

In this case as we can see both bird's brows and the light is just right, we've got the answer. Jay is top and Kay is bottom.

From Jeff Kollbrunner, Jeff and his wife Anna have watched this pair for 14 seasons. (I'm betting Mama and Papa do do interviews with Anna and Jeff.)


I had read your update today and want to offer some additional information and clarity as to why Mama and Papa selected a new nest site this past nesting season.

Mama and Papa did use the same building as the previous season that was monitored by Hawkcam. They started using a newly constructed nest on the South side of the building on a similar window air conditioner unit on the same floor as the previous years nest which was located on the North side of the building that the hawkcam monitored. This past season Mama had started using that new nest on the South side of the hawkcam building for about a week when a prolonged period of intense media coverage started for a local trial. There were countless media trucks with their satellites fully extended every day, photojournalists and reporters on rooftops and large loud protests all day long with bull horns in constant use and the like in the immediate area of their nest. All of this being in such close proximity to Mama and Papa's new nest they decided to abandon it, luckily, just prior to laying eggs. Mama and Papa had constructed three nests that year, two on this building and one in a cemetery White Pine tree just East of these other two nests. They elected to move to the Pine tree nest, Mama had three eggs shortly after relocating to the Pine tree where they had three very large and very healthy fledglings.

Mama and Papa typically construct a new nest every year for the past 14 plus years we have been observing them. They have re-used a single location once but had to rebuild that nest from scratch as the Coop board had their previous seasons nest removed when that nesting season was completed. Mama and Papa routinely return to favorite vantage points on tall buildings that have been otherwise disturbed by construction activity or maintenance work. They don't seem bothered by this at all except they will stay away from these favorite vantage points if there is constant maintenance work in progress each day. They will return to these sites when the workers leave for the day and activity at the location ends. They are not disturbed by the scaffolds that are left in place as long as the work crew is gone for the day. When all the equipment is removed and the workers are gone for good Mama and Papa resume their typical use of these vantage points.

All the best,


It just occurred to me anew, how the network of Hawkwatchers has grown each year, as has all of our knowledge as we share what we know, surmise, test, and see, every season.

Bravo! Brava! To Hawkwatchers every one.

Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Ref the turkey link, I wonder what the flock of turkeys living in "the parking lot of a hospital in Staten Island" are living on? And where they sleep?

Donegal Browne said...


Excellent questions! Actually Carol Vinzant of squirrel rehab fame, and I want to go over to Staten Island and look for their Turkeys. There is also some talk that some turkeys which live near housing have been chasing children though I haven't found official cooberation of this behavior for say park officials, police, or other figures of authority.

As to what the turkeys in the parking lot eat, I'm assuming that the parking lot is at least semi-surrounded by woody green space. Staten Island doesn't look like Manhattan when it comes to the bijillion people per square foot look. Many people in Staten Island live in single family houses, with yards. There are also any number of woods, greenery, and different habitats for wildlife there. Besides, I wouldn't doubt it a bit that people bring the food in with them and feed the turkeys in the parking lot. :-)