Monday, March 23, 2009

Prairie Burn Surprise, Red-tailed Hawks--Valkyrie of Tompkins Square, Kay andJay of Tulsa,plus the Blackwater Bald Eagles and Central Park Sparrows

I'd been hot on the trail of water fowl, who were hot to be somewhere else besides where I was. Driving off I was feeling rather shunned, but then what should I see but someone doing a PRAIRIE BURN!!!

Our Ohio hawk expert John Blakeman is also a prairie master. He's been telling me about going about his burns and I have been so envious that I hadn't been able to be there to photograph one but you just never know what will happen after the ducks shun you. Being open is the key. And Ron and Marti Martin of Midwest Prairies made my day!

More on the burn coming soon, but today we've a good deal to catch up on in the raptor department.




The whites of her eyes...


I'm glad she isn't looking at me like that.
Seriously though look at the length of her beak, the angle of the sides of her head, those proportions seem innately female in Red-tailed Hawks to me.

One of my favorite shots of Valkyrie as she is a downtown kind of hawk plus habituated to humans and there she goes zipping past the humans and the Sushi Lounge!



Valkyrie as a drink of water from rain collected on top of containers being used in construction at the park.

Francois and I have often wished that Tompkins Square Park had a water source so that perhaps the green space could be used for a nesting area. Now, a children's playground is being constructed and wouldn't it be nice if the equipment included a sprinkler for kids (and hawks).

From Robin of Illinois--Three week old eaglets are sitting up. Also, per the Blackwater blog, the older is starting to bully the younger,who is keeping her head down in submission.

Screen Capture courtesy of Sally of the Tulsa Forum and KJRH TV Tulsa

Somehow this photograph jumped out of place. The commentary, an email from Sally and my answer are two topics down. ??? So refer back when you get there--just like yesterday.

From Robin of Illinois reporting that the Ospreys are back at Blackwater
Photo from that Blackwater blog link: Bald Eagle Chasing Osprey with a Fish
This could be the start of a new drama. Remember the Great Horned Owl hunting from atop the Osprey box?

Photograph by Pat Gonzalez

House Sparrows are always looking for cavities to nest in. And for many years in New York City's Central Park they've been nesting inside the glass enclosures of the path lights. Not only safe from inclement weather but they've a heating element when the bulb is burning from dusk to dawn. Therefore they can begin nesting earlier in the Spring and later into the Fall than the usual weather would allow.

Tour Guide Pat Gonzalez, who has been keeping us abreast of the wildlife in the NYC Botanical Gardens has branched out with a look around Central Park.

Photograph by Pam Gonzalez

Here’s footage I shot yesterday in Central park of some sparrows building a nest inside a street lamp, plus some photographs.
These birds are quite resourceful.

Pat Gonzalez

No question. They certainly are resourceful. And adaptable, particularly to human adjusted environments.


An email from Sally of the Tulsa Forum-

Dear Donna,

We are trying to decide if Kay had eaten when she returned to the nest yesterday. I just cannot tell, though I think she is looking full in front there isn't the obvious disfiguring bulge often seen after a big meal. What do you think? She was gone quite a while, I think over 30 minutes. I would really appreciate your input.



Hi Sally,

I can't imagine that Kay would leave for thirty minutes and not eat. Even if Jay hadn't left her anything stashed she is perfectly capable of nabbing her own dinner as she does everyday when not on the nest.

You're right in that she doesn't have a huge bulging crop but it is slightly rounded. And certainly her crop isn't sunken in either which can happen when a bird hasn’t eaten in a long time.

I received an email from Tulsa saying that Jay had brought food to Kay on the nest Saturday at which point, she had grabbed it, took off, undoubtedly ate it, and then came back to relieve Jay not too long later.

Kay will take matters into her own hands. If she has to feed herself, she will. She will not starve.
Norman who is now the mate of Isolde, after Tristan was no longer with her, was just two when he and Isolde bonded. He was totally clueless. She's sit for hours on the nest without a sighting of him. He'd eventually show up with his crop bulging while bringing nothing for her. Then he’d stand around guarding the nest. She’d fly out, glare to make sure he was on the nest, and then she'd hunt for herself when necessary. eventually got him trained.

As Red-tails do learn from experience and as far as we know this “issue” didn’t seem to come up last season. What is going on? I'm concerned.
Keep in mind that my posited hypothesis that Kay is hungry is just that. A hypothesis. We could come across other observations that might prove the hypothesis completely incorrect and we’d have to add that new observation to the mix and come up with a new hypothesis or you could say, another possible solution to the mystery.
There is no question that Jay is not acting like himself. Is something wrong we don't know about?

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