Monday, March 30, 2009


The County M formel of N1, near Milton, Wisconsin, peers between the twigs of the nest, seemingly none the worse for wear after sitting through the night in an open nest in the midst of a high wind blizzard of sleet, hail, and snow. Well, except that her coif looks a touch more fluffy headed than usual. A common symptom of Red-tailed Hawks who have had a wet head earlier in the day.

Tulsa Hawkwatcher Bob McCargar sent Red-tail expert John Blakeman a video for some clarification...


Last night, we saw some behavior from Kay that we hadn't seen before.
(Video here: Wet Kay makes strange head movements (edited)).
Since none of us in the Tulsa forum had seen it last year or this, I wrote for opinions about it and got this response from our friend, Mr. Blakeman:

"In falconry, the action is called "putting it over." When a hawk does this, with the particular bobbing of the head, she's rearranging new food in her crop, putatively putting some of it down into the stomach for digestion.

The modern understanding of putting it over is that the bird is merely re-arranging the contents of the crop, packing everything in, not pushing any of it into the stomach. The food is more slowly and incrementally let down into the stomach in later minutes or hours. But ancient falconers didn't know much about avian digestion. The phrase has been with falconry since Elizabethan times.

Clearly, the bird in the video had just eaten and she was settling her self in after a nice meal. Putting it over is pleasurable and natural, but it happens at length like this only when the meal is of some size. Were it a single vole, just about one bob of the head puts it over. For a pigeon, big rat, or other crop-filling meal, a somewhat lengthy head dance is used to get things packed in just right. "
John Blakeman

In other news, Tulsa's in the grip of a nasty snow storm today. Here's Kay, modeling the latest in winter headwear for the well dressed raptor:

Kay with a snow cap
Bob McCargar

Finally! I now know what Quicksilver my African Grey Congo is doing when he does those quick weird little jerks of the head with a slight neck bend. He too has a crop and he's putting it over!

I added the unsightly links, just in case, as sometimes happens, Blogger eats the more sophisticated ones in transfer.

Donegal Browne

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