Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Sunset 8:36 pm
Photo taken-8:08pm
Wind variable 25MPH
Gusts to 30MPH
Sinking sun behind tree. Back light made seeing the eyasses very difficult unless there was huge movement such as vigorous wing flaps which exposed pale coverts.

But I realized as soon as I pulled up that the energy had changed completely.

8:08 pm
Therefore once loaded into the computer I artificially lightened the photographs so we could see what was going on. Also there was a good breeze blowing which caused the boughs to sway and leaves to shift.

The verge between the corn field that holds the nest and County Road M. There is alfalfa, Wild Grape, Queen Anne's Lace, Wild Carrot, Virginia Creeper, a variety of grasses and much more. All of which give shelter and dinner to the voles that the Red-tailed Hawk family eats.

I've not been watching the nest every minute, and as I'm the only one watching, great swaths of time are not observed. Not like Central Park or many of the other urban nests where there are enough people watching that there is often a kind of hand off of information between observers as one watcher arrives and another leaves.

That said, I've only seen one non-vole meal--a black snake. And the rest is the standard diet for Wisconsin Red-tailed Hawks--voles, voles, and more voles.

I've begun to wonder if vole isn't a better diet than the urban pigeon and rat that eyasses are fed in the city. These rural eyasses look bigger, stronger, and better feathered than their urban counterparts before fledging. Of course it could be something to do with cleaner air and the local rainwater which bathes them in the nest. Or, and perhaps more likely, I'm certain that the two Ms are staying on the nest/in the nest tree longer than an urban eyass would and therefore are bigger and stronger and better feathered because they are just plain older.

8:10 pm

I couldn't digiscope both birds as they weren't close enough to each other so both would fit---and I had a feeling something might just happen very soon. In order to get both birds in the lens I switched to video.

Two minutes later the wind had increased, the eyasses were flapping, and everything was moving. The top bird flapped vigorously. The second, lower an slightly to the left, was hop flapping herself off of branches by a few inches. Then making a very short flight of a couple feet to another higher branch. She then turned out to face me and went back to the heart stopping flapping that took her a few inches off the branch, then a new branch, more hopping and strong flapping. And suddenly she was airborne. WOW!

Primus (At least I think it was Primus) was in the air. she flew strongly round towards the back of the tree, flew towards the tree line, did a nice turn and then reappeared on the other side of the oak and did the typical crash landing of a newly fledged hawk on the right side of the tree.

I shot video of Primus fledgling, or at least the first part, Couldn't catch the behind the tree and crash landing segments unfortunately...I think anyway.
And my slow connection won't let me upload the video. So it looks like we'll all have to wait for me to find a charitable person who will let me use their WiFi before many of our questions can be answered about exactly happened and to whom.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Donegal Browne

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