Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mr. Portmann Answers My Questions, Kay Entreats Jay Again, and More

Bark? Yes, bark. Oak bark in fact. Just ignore it for the moment and keep on going.

This is the oak tree that the County M, Nest 1, Red-tailed Hawks are nesting in. Actually though this time what we are looking at is what makes some oaks good nest trees, but we won't be looking at that for a wee bit yet, as I didn't know I wanted it several photos down where it should go. Until now. We'll just refer back to it when we get there if that's okay.

The formel with her newest find for the nest.

I had a number of questions for Francois about who did what in this pair and how they did it--

D.B.--Is it the female that collects the bark? Lola tends to do it at the Fifth Avenue nest, but I've seen Pale Male Jr. bring bark to the nest for that pair.

Francois: Yes, the female strips the bark. Her broken beak isn't always obvious.

Bark is an important nest building material, often used under softer material for the nest bowl. I also see bark tucked into the main body of the rural nest I'm watching in Wisconsin.


D.B.--Did they take any sticks off the ground? I notice that there is a shot of a hawk on the ground with a stick. At one point there was discussion that perhaps Pale Male and Lola didn't have an easy time getting enough nesting material to make their nest big enough because their neighborhood of the park is so well manicured.

Francois: These hawks take sticks from both the ground and from trees. I'm seeing them break smaller green sticks too! In the pix of the birds dealing with sticks with the beak, on the ground or flying, they tend to close their nictitating membranes for protection.


Francois: This female (above) is good at jumping on dead branches, and breaking them off. The problem with gathering from the ground is dogs (mostly their careless owners) and could be an issue at fledge time.


Francois and I had been discussing that the tiercel had turned his talons under and was actually balancing on the formel's back to copulate. I then realized that as the formel is on a lamppost it isn't as if she can sink her talons into the metal and latch on. Therefore It seemed to me that she was holding them both up by the pressure on the tips of her talons.

Francois: Regarding balance/mating, I think that the male is part of the equation (of course)! If you look, every time they mate the male spreads its wings, right and it looks macho but he is actually adjusting the balance using the drafts/wind. The hawks don’t fight gravity like we do; they use it. The tai chi masters learned by watching nature and animals after all.

Good point, Francois. And for those of you you may have missed it the first time, from Tulsa Hawkwatcher Bob McCargar--

Hi, Donegal-
Some of your readers may not be familiar with Hawk Tai Chi, but on 3/17, Kay gave a good example of it here, followed by some preening, before she settles back down on the nest.


Francois: I’m surprised at their choice of tree A London Plane has very slick bark as opposed to a tulip tree where the rough bark itself is a good anchor!

(The smooth bark of the London Plane is visible in the above photo. For a look at the many twiglets on the branches of oaks and the deep texture of their bark, both handy for anchoring a nest, now is the time to look up to the top of the blog. I told you we'd get to it. D.B.)

Francois: And where is the water? I’m curious to know where they find it. No access to the Hudson except from low half submerged piers, south of the marina.

D.B.: Are there any children's playgrounds around with sprinkler systems? They'll be on in the summer when the need is greatest and hawks will bathe in the sprinklers too. Also what might be the closest water source to their cross street in Central Park? C.P. isn't really all that far from them as the hawk flies.

P.S for Francois: Today I saw them eat for the first time.

Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover and the KJRH TV Hawk Cam Tulsa

Kay entreats Jay 10:08

Hi, Donna--

More hawk talk this morning. Actually in this case, Kay's vocalizations seemed more of an entreaty than the harangue of the other day. This time, she made her case as she stayed settled on the nest, not standing beak to beak as before. Also, Jay didn't hang around for as long this time, and exited while Kay was still vocalizing. Prior to this brief episode at 10:08--10:09, Kay had been vocalizing for at least ten minutes. Here are some relevant Forum posts ("Big Sit" thread, p.85) by Sallyls, from this morning (boldface mine) The Forum link:
10:08 Kay has been calling intermittently since about 10:00, she calls 2-5 times, rests, then calls again....

Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover and the KJRH TV Hawk Cam Tulsa
2. Jay listens? 10:09

Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover and the KJRH TV Hawk Cam Tulsa
3. Jay immediately takes the plea under advisement.....

Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover and the KJRH TV Hawk Cam Tulsa
4. ...elsewhere. Kay reacts with THE LOOK 10:09
10:09 Jay flies in from right with long needled pine bough, drops to front of nest near camera, Kay's left side. Jay hops over to platform far left. Kay calling continuously. Jay off left. Kay now looking around, looks askance at new pine next to her. Looks around. Now staring toward front of nest-pine bough or something else? Maybe Jay is out putting on an aerobatic show for her. She has stopped calling since he left. Perhaps he's putting on an aerobatic show for her. She has stopped calling since he left.
10:12 Kay sitting in nest alert, looking around.

Then later:10:44 Kay keeps looking quizzically and with interest toward 6:00 or the camera.
Is Jay perched nearby? Doing fascinating acrobatics? Is there a bug or a bird? It reminds me of the looks she gives the "ceiling" above her sometimes. Not calling now though.

10:52 Kay calling intermittently again. Looking around, front, down toward 3. I do wonder if she is watching Jay or something else flying around. Sometimes she cranes her neck to look down or "over the edge" of the platform. She is watching more intently than usual.

10:56 Has stopped calling, briefly preens left wing/shoulder, now up, repositions bark into bowl. Moves the pine bough slightly. Settles back on eggs facing bar, working on stick beneath her left side. Still looking out intently. Now pulls pine bough toward her, working it, tucking it nearer to her side. I think she broke off a small piece, acts like she is spitting out the sap!! Working on the pine needle sections. Now up, tucking the pine down into the bowl, rolls eggs forward and back. Tucking stuff into nest bowl. Rolls eggs again and settles back down. Still working on the pine stick------------------------I'm attaching a few photo captures in illustration of the narrative from KJRH Hawk Cam
Plus Tulsa Hawkwatcher Bobdmac has put one of the entreating incidents on youtube--
There is no way to know for sure without being in the field and observing Jay’s behavior as well as Kay’s but I'm thinking that perhaps...
She wants Jay to bring the food to the nest. He may be stashing it for her but she wants it brought to her so she doesn't have to leave the eggs.
Or she feels he’s stashing it too far away and wants it brought so she can take it, eat it, and then get back quick.
Or he is having trouble getting prey. Though the fact that he keeps bringing nest material is interesting. Is he intentionally misunderstanding so he gets a chance to sit the eggs, or perhaps his urges tell him bringing something is better than bringing nothing.

It could be that Kay is in the gush of hormones that says sit, sit, sit. Remember how annoyed she was when he brought the twig? She wanted food. Jay on the other hand also wants to sit on the eggs, some males have a stronger urge to sit than others, or could it be possible he really doesn’t understand what she wants? He tried the twig, no.

It is actually better for the formel to get off the nest a couple of times a day if she can be convinced. Get some exercise, defecate, eat, get a drink of water, maybe a bath, but at first they absolutely will not stay gone very long at all. And it looks like Kay won't get off until she is super hungry. I’m told Jay only brought a small rodent to the nest one day and Kay is only leaving very briefly once a day. That isn’t enough food if that is all she is getting. She is probably starting to get very hungry.

Unless of course Jay just can't seem to catch anything. Though usually in that case, the formel will leave, the tiercel sits, and as she's been sitting up there all day watching prey, she usually gets something in short order or if he's stashed something she may be bringing the stash to the nest herself to eat.

Isolde and Lola both do that if it doesn't arrive by delivery.

In short, if there is food, Kay may not want to have to go get it. She wants it brought. She is calling because she is hungry, if what you've seen is all the food she is getting.

At this stage Lola can finish off at least half if not more of a meaty pigeon a couple of times a day, which is far more calories than a small rodent.

These birds have been successful before, so eventually choices will be made so that she gets food, though how exactly is still up for grabs.

From our Blackwater Eagle Nest reporter Robin of Illinois--Blackwater babies (sleeping all curled up with each other) No adult on the nest at the moment.

And from our observer and photographer Pat Gonzalez at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx--

Here are some brand new pics, taken last week at the NYBG. First up, we have my sleepy pal Northern saw-whet, now with eyes wide open. Same tree, same branch. So was his much larger cousin Great-horned.

I took this shot of Great Horned Owl from a different angle. I stood perfectly still. Camera was focused on him. With my left foot I slowly pushed down on the forest floor which was littered with leaves. It made a crunching sound. He slowly tilted his head.....and then glared at me.

Giving me the dirtiest look I’d ever seen! I stayed frozen, and took the shot. Then I slooooooooooowly and with no sudden movements, backed away trying not to think about the fact that this owl can carry away prey much larger than itself. : ) I was very pleased with the results because now I could not only see more detail (truly a magnificent bird) but I could see those large eyes. Shudder..... : )

Lastly, here’s red-tail looking at something interesting nearby.

Karen Anne Kolling and her Rhode Island Gadzooks Deck with a Fox and Chipmunk update--


The fox made short work of the unshelled peanuts the second day he saw them, but that was a few days ago. He isn't here every day, so I guess he is managing okay on the other days. Meanwhile the raccoons finish off the peanuts overnight.

My next door neighbors (my cousins), came back from a trip earlier than I expected, so now their dog is on their fenced in deck once or twice a day. Jake is a small dog, so of course I told them about the fox. Not sure what would happen if the fox and Jake met. So I don't know if Jake being there will keep the fox away. He has to be somewhat used to dogs since people walk their dogs along the small road and beach, but that isn't the same as one next door permanently.

I don't know the fox's name, or even if he is a he or a she.

By the way, Chewy II, the chipmunk has been back the last couple of days. A sign of spring, I guess.

As I told Karen, my Chewy the Chipmunk has not yet reappeared though the freeze line had gone down at least a foot or two. But Chewy knew better than I what was best, as snow is now falling outside my window.

It will be very interesting to see how much difference an adjacent dog makes to a bird seed eating peanut chomping fox.


1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

"It will be very interesting to see how much difference an adjacent dog makes to a bird seed eating peanut chomping fox."

Fortunately, so far at least, not much. Happiness is sitting about 8 feet away from a fox who is having a breakfast of unsalted peanuts.

My, what big teeth you have, Mr. or Ms. Fox, about 3/4 inch fangs, I would guess. And definitely not dog-looking eyes, instead wild creature eyes.

The other deck denizens must keep watch, because they tend to appear within a couple of minutes of his leaving.