Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday Miscellany-Sutton Eagles, NYBG Great Horned Owl, Blackwater Osprey, and Hilary's Canada Goose Nest Problem

Pat is referring below to the photographs of the newly fledged Great Horned Owls in the New York Botanical Gardens posted yesterday. This is Mama Owl looking at Pat look at her newly fledged Owlets.--

Pat said, "I meant to include this photo with the others in my last email. This is the momma owl watching me rather intensely as I photographed her offspring. Her ear tufts are rather flat. Is that a bad thing?"

I answered, "Well as she is looking at you look at her babies, it likely isn't a good thing. In fact I suspect that had you gone a few steps closer to her progeny, she might well have gone for you."

And a Great Horned Owl going after you is no joke. When I was in training, I met two ornithologists who had lost eyes to Great Horns while attempting to band the young on the nest. (I don't remember them wearing hard hats way back when. They've wised up since.) I don't want to scare you, particularly as you've done just fine so far and this Great Horned Owl is undoubtedly somewhat habituated to people being closer then would be normal, or she wouldn't be in the Gardens, but I suggest that you wear a hat from now on.

Supposedly, I was told this anyway, in an Owl attack if you are wearing a hat and the owl goes for you, you grab off the hat and pitch it at the owl. The owl will then go for the hat, sink her talons into it, take off with it, and shred the you-know-what out of it... instead of shredding your head. So you loose a hat, no biggie. Better than the alternative.

And like I said this owl is no doubt much more used to people being around than your usual wild owl who nests in the countryside and sees people infrequently therefore don't make yourself crazy over it. Just a suggestion for a rather far fetched possibility.

Great Horned Owl video also from Pat--

Screen Capture Courtesy of Jackie Dover, KJRH TV Tulsa, and
A thunderstorm rolls into the Sutton Bald Eagle territory. Wonderful stuff from Jackie Dover of the Tulsa Hawk Nest Forum--

Jackie, Bville of the Tulsa Hawk Forum
Screen Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover, KJRH TV Tulsa, and
These are screen capture sequences featuring the Sutton Avian Research Center's bald eagles at Sooner Lake, near Stillwater, OK. This nest is on an artificial tower built after the original dead tree site fell down. Here's the live cam link, from which folks can also explore the Center's website.

This series of captures is from the evening of April 18. Some nasty storm clouds reached the lake around 8 p.m. One eagle parent flew off the nest, the other immediately calling vigorously after it, it seemed.

The first quickly returned. The rain and frequent lightning lasted at least a half hour.

(Did it occur to anyone else that though it was grand that they put up a substitute nest stand for the pair, as they've made it out of metal, they have contrived for the Eagles to nest on top of one giganto lightning rod?)

Screen Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover, KJRH TV Tulsa, and
The parents sheltered the eaglet the entire time, huddling together in the same pose. In all these captures, the birds are revealed only by the lightning flashes, in both the wide and close shots. It was quite the display.

Screen Captures courtesy of Jackie Dover, KJRH TV Tulsa, and

I will shortly send you another series of captures at the same nest.
Jackie, Bville of the Tulsa Hawk Forum

Now there is parental protection for you. I suspect that the female is closest to the eaglet and dad is slightly sheltering mom while protecting little eaglet from the storm as well. Good luck Eagles!

Screen capture courtesy of Robin of Illinois and
the Blackwater Osprey Cam.
From Blackwater Watcher and long time blog contributor Robin of Illinois--
Posted on the Blackwater cam site: "We have our first egg of 2009! We could see one or two more, normally coming about three days apart."
(Interesting that a Red-tail usually can create an egg every other day while an Osprey takes 3 days.)
Next up an email from Hilary Sortor, a New York City college student concerned about a possible disturbance to a Canada Goose couple's nest down near Pier 64 on the Hudson--
Hi Donna,
I hope you are well! I met you last year up at the Fifth Avenue nest and you subsequently helped me learn what to look for when watching the red tails nesting at City College.
I haven't seen much of them this year, sadly, although I had a really good look at one of them eating a pigeon in a pocket park on Broadway a couple of weeks back - drew quite a crowd and was subsequently chased off by the pair of kestrels that live in that area.
I continue to enjoy reading your blog and wish there was more time in the day for birds and other creatures... maybe when school is out.
I'm writing because I thought you might know who to contact about this: Pier 64 has been under construction up until three days ago, and is now open to the public. While it was closed, a pair of Canada geese felt it was sufficiently free of humans (and probably more importantly, dogs) to construct a nest on the lawn at the far end of the pier. I did not realize that's what was going on until I walked out there this evening with my dog and saw the female on the nest and the male standing guard (I moved my dog well away as soon as I saw the female wasn't getting up and the light bulb went off in my brain).
Hudson River Conservancy has roped off the area, but it's not much of a buffer - maybe 20-25 feet. The male was surrounded on three sides by people as he tried to keep an eye on everything - I try not to anthropomorphize, but both geese seemed very worried.
There were a lot of people out there this evening with dogs, etc. getting much too close.I'd seen them out there a couple of days ago, but the male was in the water and there weren't any other people around, so I wasn't sure there was a nest until tonight, or I would have contacted you sooner.
My fear is, that area will be packed over the weekend with the good weather, and I don't know how good that will be for the geese.
What can be done? Who should I contact? People around them tonight seemed pretty oblivious to the situation, or hopefully, they would have backed off. If you have any ideas, please let me know.Thanks for any advice you can give, I appreciate it, and enjoy the weekend!

I forwarded Hilary’s email off to Park Ranger Andrew DiSalvo who has been helpful in the past. Though the pier is not within his current area, I’m hoping he will be able to point Hilary and the Geese to the Ranger or Rangers who may be in the Pier 64 area or as an alternative-- in whatever correct direction will help them.

Donegal Browne


Sally said...

Everyone on the Sutton Eagle cam chat room thinks the tower is grounded but I haven't been able to confirm that with a Sutton person directly. The guy we usually communicate with is gone for two weeks. SURELY a nest tower built by the Audubon Society and an utility company would be grounded against lightning strikes!

Donegal Browne said...

I can't believe they wouldn't have grounded it, it is such an obvious thing to do, as otherwise it is rather a gigantic lightning rod and would undoubtedly been zapped already if it weren't.

Did I read correctly that their previous nest tree was dead before it fell over? Is that the reason that there was no contrivance to shade the nest's inhabitants as would be usual in a tree with a leafy canopy? Of course as it would be permanent, it would also keep the sitting bird from getting the warmth of late winter sun, the warmth of which she no doubt could use. Sally do you know how tall the nest is from the ground?

Sally said...

the chat folks think it is 50 feet high; I am remembering 20, but I bet 50 iscloser... From the Sutton site:

This nest is on OG&E property at Sooner Lake north of Stillwater, Oklahoma. The original dead nest tree used by this pair of eagles fell down.
OG&E, with technical assistance from the Sutton Center and financial assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
erected an artificial tower which these eagles have adopted successfully. and one camera is down now:

27 April: Temporary nest camera failures were due to a period of inadequate sunshine to keep the batteries charged. One camera has been restored for now. The WideCam appears to have been damaged by static electricity or a surge and will need to be sent in for repairs.

Sally said...

What about Blakeman's Eagle nest at Plum ?Brook? I haven't heard about it lately at all...

Sally said...

sorry! Also about the Sutton eagles, EG from Sutton said that many eagle nests are in dead trees or the open and not shaded and do fine. He mentioned that the baby might use the bars to branch to before fledging, since there are no tree branches.

Ranger DiSalvo said...

Donegal & Hilary,

Even though Canada Geese are extremely common, and at times bothersome, they are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It is somewhat funny because they should migrate, but all of our perfectly cultivated lawns and golf courses allow them to stay here year-round. Anyway, people caught stealing eggs or the birds (this happens!), maiming, killing, or just harassing them can incur large fines and misdemeanor or felony charges. While it doesn't sound like the situation at Pier 64 has reached that point, it might be a good idea to call the local Urban Park Rangers in Central Park to check it out and just observe at this time. Even though it's not on Parks property, we can still investigate the situation and proceed accordingly. They can be reached at Belvedere Castle at 212-628-2345.

Personally, I think that a 25-foot buffer is ample room and the geese will be fine. If the mother hadn't laid the eggs I would be more worried (stress can affect the laying of eggs or the quality of said eggs) but it sounds like she already has. Remember, these birds, probably more than any other species except pigeons, have become extremely acclimated to humans. Unfortunately, I think placing a sign on the rope ("Nesting Birds, Do Not Disturb") would probably garner unwanted attention. Not everyone out there cares for animals like we do.

Anyway, I'm sorry this response took so long. I never got a forwarded e-mail and merely ran across this while reading this post. Keep me posted with any updates. Good luck.


Donegal Browne said...

Thank you Ranger Andrew for the updated phone number for the Urban Park Rangers.

I'd given Hilary the email address I had for you in hopes you could help her out about the geese, but I take it, it has changed as a forward was involved?

I'd like to update my email address book with your current email so we can be in touch,just in caee?