Monday, March 30, 2009


From Robin of Illinois--
There is heavy sleet and ice and rain hitting Tulsa, now, and snow on its way, bringing blizzard conditions. Kay is hunkered down as low as she can get on the nest bowl, and it is staying dry (we see it when she gets up to turn the eggs). Someone asked if she has down underneath her external feathers to keep her warm. She really is terribly soaking wet to external appearances. The worst of the storm (the snow) is yet to come.

Hawks do have a layer of fluffy under feathers, though hawk feathers don't have the waterproof qualities of ducks for instance. Red-tails do attempt to shelter during wet weather or sit on a heat producing perch of some kind such as a chimney or lamp post during snow. They do have special large blood vessels that come from the heat rich core of their bodies to their feet to keep them from freezing. Unfortunately formels in open nests don't have the option of finding a less wet place to sit out storms and do become soaked. Though a well fed formel will regularly sit the nest through all kinds of inclement weather, usually without harm to herself. Though we should keep in mind that some nests do fail, and according to the Red-tail literature, there are two main causes of egg failure: lengthy cold drenching rain and birds who must leave their nest unattended repeatedly and/or for long duration in order to feed themselves.

This nest seems to have a possible double whammy coming up, as the winter storm is brewing and Kay may well be hungry.
UPDATES: Sally of Kentucky a member of Tulsa Team Forum, who observe and note the activities of Kay and Jay, has been sending updates all day. Many thanks to her. Unfortunately I was in the field so I wasn't able to post them as they came in. My apologies.

Things certainly could be better in Tulsa---

I will try to summarize the sad and confusing events of today from the posts in the forum. This is all following Kay weathering a horrific-looking snowstorm overnight in the nest without food or a break all day yesterday.

Kay was particularly restless this morning, standing up a few times and calling before settling back on the nest each time.

At 9:44 am she flew off the nest. Temperature was 36 degrees, light wind, eggs lying in the sun.

9:59 (25 minutes eggs were unattended) Kay came back but did not sit on the eggs. She stood and called, perched on the side of the nest and on the supports around the platform.

10:10 Jay arrived, Kay yelled at him and he left. By then the sun was off the eggs and still no one had sat on them. Kay stayed on the platform and hopped up to the bracket near the camera, we think around 10:45.

Catgirl drove to the area just before 11:00 to find Kay on the tower screaming Jay flew off. She found him in a tree screaming. returning past the nest she saw Kay still on the tower screaming. She saw lots of pigeons and squirrels around.

11:02 Jay came to the nest with a stick looked at the eggs and flew off again. 11:20 Jay came back and went to sit on the eggs. He had just settled when Kay arrived and apparently drove him off but does not sit, just stands and watches him leave.

11:22 Kay flies off. 11:36 Jay arrives again and settles on the eggs. He was on the eggs only a few minutes then flew off again.

11:41 Kay returns to platform, stands on the bar and the platform looks at but ignores the nest, calling, preens a bit.

11:50 she flew over to the eggs and hovered above them but did not sit down then walked over to the camera support and stood beneath the camera mostly out of view.

12:00 she is still under the camera calling, and appears to be shivering.

12:16pm she is seen preening all over, shaking her head over and over. (She looked bedraggled and matted early this morning) 12:37 still perched under camera, still appears to be shivering.

As of now at 1:33 pm, Tulsa time the eggs we are sure have been lost, if not during the cold wet snowstorm overnight, surely this morning. Tulsa Team Forum is very sad indeed. Kay was covered in snow at some points, and she shook off the snow a few times to settle back quickly on the eggs each time during the day/evening. Perhaps she knew somehow that she had been unable to keep them warm enough overnight?


1:45pm Jay is back on the eggs, Kay nowhere to be seen. The gentleman from Sutton Research Center is saying that the eggs could still be viable even if they were unattended ( 4 hours and 15 minutes) We will see. Jay hasn't given up. I'll report later. He's still on the eggs at 2:26 but has not rolled them that anyone has noted.


Will the drama never cease? Jay came to sit on the eggs, finally, around 1:45 after Kay had left.

She re-appeared at 3:12 pm very fully cropped up like I don't recall having seen her full before, but she still would not sit on the eggs. Jay left and returned with some bark for the nest and left again, and then stayed away until Kay flew off the platform at 3:55, when Jay came back to sit again.

Jay then sat on the eggs until Kay returned at 5:50 and began to sit on the eggs. Kay has gotten up and left the nest to stand on the platform this evening, but went back to sitting on the eggs after a few minutes each time. Things certainly aren't "normal" but at least she is back and appears tucked in now for the night 8:30 pm.

4+ hours of uncovered eggs, plus 40 or so more unattended minutes in the afternoon there any hope? Guess we will watch what unfolds.


One cannot help but think that there may be something wrong with Jay's cognitive function, as he continues to misread the repeated cues that Kay is hungry and he needs to bring food to her. He appears to know that trips to the nest bringing something are in order as he continues to bring nesting materials up to Kay. She had shown her displeasure to him for these offerings instead of prey, and has called long and repeatedly for food while sitting the nest. A formel usually will not leave the nest without the male taking her place unless there is an emergency such as defense of the nest or health affecting hunger.

Question for those watching the Tulsa Nest--In the beginning of incubation what was the interaction or lack thereof that meant Jay did not switch with Kay for nest duty? Did he try? Did she refuse to give up the nest? If Kay left did Jay not appear and egg sit? What went on?

Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

Speaking of males with cognitive function problems, Norman finally got the hang of things, didn't he?

But this is Jay's second year, isn't it? How did Jay act last year?

Poor Kay, sitting in the cold that long and that hungry, hanging in there.