Friday, January 09, 2009

Pale Male and Lola's Nest, Valkyrie of Thompkins Square, and a First in the U.S. Bird

Photograph Donegal Browne
Pale Male surveys his domain from the vantage point of the 927 Fifth Avenue nest.

The only wind information I had at the point that I emailed John Blakeman was for March 8th, the day with the strongest wind for the month of March 2008, 64 mph wind gusts buffeted the area. The temperature ranged that day from a low of 33F and a high of 48F. I asked Mr. Blakeman whether those temperatures with gusts of wind that strong could have cooled Pale Male and Lola's eggs.

Here is his response--


Yes, 60-plus mph gusts, especially at a nest against a wall (as is 927) could cool the eggs. But had incubation begun in the first or second week of March?


Which is an excellent question for which I don't have the answer here in Wisconsin. Though Lola was sitting the nest in 2002, 2003, and 2004 by the 8th of March. (Anyone have the 2008 date at their finger tips?) There certainly were other days in March with comparable temperatures, but I haven't dug out wind data for the rest of the month as yet so there may be other days that could be suspect. Guess I better get busy.

Photograph by Francois Portmann
And as promised the rest of the dynamite photographic sequence taken by Francois Portmann of Valkyrie the immature Red-tailed Hawk of Tompkins Square Park. The other section can be found on the post, one down, titled "Valkyrie of Tompkins Square, Tulsa Nest Question..."

Looks like Valkyrie has spotted something.

Photograph by Francois Portmann

Is there a bird, under her left foot? If so what is she doing with her right talons?

Photograph by Francois Portmann
And later...

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Valkyrie sees a possible dinner in the scampering form of a Gray Squirrel.

Photograph by Francois Portmann

Photograph by Francois Portmann

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann
FOCUS! No matter the obstacles. (Continued one post down.)
R. of Illinois has been out gleaning other birding goodies and here is her find for the day...
Rare 'dinky' bird migrates to US for first time

CHOKE CANYON, Texas – Birders with binoculars and cameras are flocking to a
remote state park in search of a small yellow-chested bird that apparently
crossed the U.S. Border for the first time from its high-mountain habitat to
the south.

At 5 inches with beige and yellow markings, the pine flycatcher doesn't look like much, but its unprecedented migration from Mexico and Guatemala is exciting birders all over the country.
I am so sorry I will not be there as I have unavoidable responsibilities here, but I too shall be remembering Eleanor...
Donegal Browne

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Brett Odom Finds the Date, Pale Male and Lola, NYTimes Nature News, Plus the Tulsa Red-tails: How to tell Kay from Jay from Thunder

Photograph Donegal Browne
4/22/08 Lola waits for Pale Male to rise from the bowl of the nest.

Southern Central Park and Downtown Hawkwatcher Brett Odom, did yeoman's duty and searched though the Spring, 2008 archives of searching for the reference to the unattended nest episode. Here is Brett's report--

I scoured Lincoln's archives and found the exact date. It was March 29th and PM & Lola left the nest unattended for 11 minutes according to the posting (not sure what time of day it was). Lincoln does not state why. Going back over each day of his archives does reveal a lot with regard to their behavior. There are several instances where he says that Lola sits on the nest for hours without a break or food being brought by PM. Perhaps during some of those instances Lola had to leave the nest unattended to feed herself.

Brett B. Odom

Photograph courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
January 7, 2009,
After the Holidays, Still on the Lam
Sewell Chan AND Jennifer 8. Lee

(Sent to the blog by long time reader and contributor Bill Walters.)

I believe there are several Central Park Turkeys and beyond those mentioned in the article there is also Hedda Gobler up in Morningside Park. (It is north of Central Park.) She is a neighbor of Isolde and Norman, who's Red-tail territory includes Morningside Park.

Photograph courtesy of Peter Kayafas

A Red-Tailed Tableau at Bethesda Fountain

"Oh, my God!”

The tour guide leading two dozen high school-aged visitors through Central Park on Thursday morning stopped dead in mid-narration at Bethesda Fountain. There, on the right hand of “Angel of the Waters,” perched a red-tailed hawk. It looked as if it were naturally part of the sculpture — except for the radiant glow of its plumage against the statue’s muted bronze.


I particularly like the last line. .

Stage Manager and avid newspaper reader Bill Walters discovered this April 3, 2008, story in the New York Times archive. I'd certainly like to see that hawk's belly band to see if it was Lola for certain. But as it is April, and breeding season with the territorial boundaries harden, it could be Lola. In winter that area and the Ramble across the Lake are destinations for any number of Red-tailed hawks that fly in from their usual residences to partake of Central Park's deep prey base.


Many thanks to Tulsa's Cheryl Cavert for the use of her very helpful photographs, and to "Other Donna" of the Tulsa Forum for gleaning the shots that showed the mid-sections of the birds, and sending them on to me.

1/01/09 Kay

Notice her belly band, her "ankles", and a female's slightly larger beak. Because of the angle her belly band appears quite low on her torso. The band appears here as jagged streaks.

The particular head position that shows the length of the beak can be quite helpful as a possible clue to the sex of the bird but not completely definitive except for a very few infallible raptor experts such as Hermione Parry-Jones.

And the angle here makes her belly band appear further up her breast.
The wind is ruffling her anterior feathers. Note how suddenly they appear more dot like and less streaked.


We're back to streaks as there is no wind, and here you can see the shoulder wash of color.

12/19/08 Kay
Here the shoulder wash isn't visible, there is a mixed streak and dot pattern, and because of the different light, here here belly band appears paler than before. Even taking into account the varying light, her band is darker than either Thunder's or Jay's.

12/24/08 Kay from the back. Note the eyebrow is visible but nearly as light as Jay's

Jay has a slightly smaller beak, fluffier feathers on his head, and skinnier ankles if you could see them.

He is in bright sunlight so his already light belly band appears next to nonexistent.


It's often hard to tell individuals apart by their backs but look at how light Jay's eyebrow is compared to Kay's, one photo up. Yes, Jay's head is lighter, than Kay's and he is slightly smaller but unless they were sitting together it would be difficult to positively ID them from those characteristics without direct comparison.

11/18/08 Thunder

We know that Thunder being a juvenile has lighter eyes than the other two but it is not apparent in the photo. Therefore check the tail. Not rusty red and just discernible--the horizontal stripes of a juvenile.

Thunder's belly band has a tendency to appear more often dotted than streaked even without the ruffling of wind. Her band is darker than her father's and lighter than her mother's.

12/25/08 Thunder

Check out the saturation of color between her head and back. Juveniles have more of a tendency for the head, neck, and back to appear matched. Though by no means a cut and dried field mark for a young bird.

Christmas Eve
Kay and Jay have very similar posterior coloration and pattern.

How sweet is this? Bonded pairs do spend time together in the off season. These two are even touching as they perch.

Which is which?

In this case as we can see both bird's brows and the light is just right, we've got the answer. Jay is top and Kay is bottom.

From Jeff Kollbrunner, Jeff and his wife Anna have watched this pair for 14 seasons. (I'm betting Mama and Papa do do interviews with Anna and Jeff.)


I had read your update today and want to offer some additional information and clarity as to why Mama and Papa selected a new nest site this past nesting season.

Mama and Papa did use the same building as the previous season that was monitored by Hawkcam. They started using a newly constructed nest on the South side of the building on a similar window air conditioner unit on the same floor as the previous years nest which was located on the North side of the building that the hawkcam monitored. This past season Mama had started using that new nest on the South side of the hawkcam building for about a week when a prolonged period of intense media coverage started for a local trial. There were countless media trucks with their satellites fully extended every day, photojournalists and reporters on rooftops and large loud protests all day long with bull horns in constant use and the like in the immediate area of their nest. All of this being in such close proximity to Mama and Papa's new nest they decided to abandon it, luckily, just prior to laying eggs. Mama and Papa had constructed three nests that year, two on this building and one in a cemetery White Pine tree just East of these other two nests. They elected to move to the Pine tree nest, Mama had three eggs shortly after relocating to the Pine tree where they had three very large and very healthy fledglings.

Mama and Papa typically construct a new nest every year for the past 14 plus years we have been observing them. They have re-used a single location once but had to rebuild that nest from scratch as the Coop board had their previous seasons nest removed when that nesting season was completed. Mama and Papa routinely return to favorite vantage points on tall buildings that have been otherwise disturbed by construction activity or maintenance work. They don't seem bothered by this at all except they will stay away from these favorite vantage points if there is constant maintenance work in progress each day. They will return to these sites when the workers leave for the day and activity at the location ends. They are not disturbed by the scaffolds that are left in place as long as the work crew is gone for the day. When all the equipment is removed and the workers are gone for good Mama and Papa resume their typical use of these vantage points.

All the best,


It just occurred to me anew, how the network of Hawkwatchers has grown each year, as has all of our knowledge as we share what we know, surmise, test, and see, every season.

Bravo! Brava! To Hawkwatchers every one.

Donegal Browne

Valkyrie of Thompkins Square, Tulsa Nest Question, and Memories are Picked about 927 in 2008

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Eye to eye! Valkyrie really wants that squirrel and he is giving her a run for her money. Thank you to Francois for the great photo sequence. I'm having download problems so I'll try to get the other half of the sequence posted when things smooth out

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Photograph by Francois Portmann

And look who is overseeing the festivities of Red-tail Valkyrie in Tompkins Square Park. She just might be a Valkyrie herself.
From Sally of the Tulsa Forum--

Dear Donna,

Today several of us were watching the KJRH tower cam with delight as Kay and Jay both visited the nest several times on camera and placed sticks. At one point it was obvious that the camera operator was taking video clips, and there has been discussion by the watchers of trying to get more camera time on the nest.
Today Russell Mills, Online Content Director and our friendly camera/video operator said, "We're currently trying to figure out if we can get a webcam up there somehow which would be locked down on a shot of the nest... no promises, but I'm hopeful."
Is it too late in the nesting season to have someone go up and install a dedicated nestcam, if the station is willing to do so/allow that? We certainly wouldn't want to disrupt the pairs nesting this year! What do you think? We are eager for your opinion!

Help Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc. by searching and shopping through Good Search donates to our organization for every purchase or search made through its sites.


You can never tell for sure how birds will react. But Pale Male and Lola have had people on their nest at various periods of time over the years and they have still always used it. Kay and Jay have used the tower successfully before so that strengthens their bond to it.

Isolde put up with all the scaffolding and workman at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, before nesting, during nesting, and onward though last season, 2008, without abandoning the location. I think part of it for urban hawks may be that there aren't really that many good available nest sites within a given territory so the lack of good alternatives is another selling point to sticking.

That said Mama and Papa in Queens did switch last season to a tree. What their reasoning was we don't know. A nest cam had been installed in their previous site, but they had used the nest with the cam through a full season and then for some reason switched before laying the next year. It's possible that the cam had nothing to do with their move but we don't know because they just refuse to give interviews. A lovely hawk couple they just treasure their privacy.

As I said there is no "for sure" about anything when it comes to hawks. As John Blakeman advised when there was to be work done on the 927 Fifth Avenue, if the installation is done now, the workers aren't up there futzing around for too long, and the installation isn't found by the hawks to be in the way somehow, it should be just fine.

I suggest, as Mr. Blakeman advised us, that just in case the hawks are annoyed by activity near their nest, it would be advisable for the workman to wear hardhats with big "eyes", big black ovals, on the front. (I'll check my archives for a photo for you.) The eyes supposedly make the hawks believe that they are being watched even if they aren't and they will have more of a tendency to keep some distance if and when they swoop in. You might suggest it to Russell Mills as a good safety measure during work in the tower.

As far as I know workman who have worn the "eye" hardhats, and were near the nests before laying, have had some pass overs but nothing close. Mostly the birds just fly over checking out what the men are doing to their nest.

When Isolde had young in the nest, and the workman insisted on using the catwalk directly above the nest, she did slightly nab a worker. He didn't even have his hardhat on, let alone one with eyes, and at least in my opinion had no business being directly above the nest when there were other options available. If humans would just respect a nest for that short period of breeding time, there would be no conflict between hawks and humans. The space could be shared amicably year round. But sometimes humans don't use their supposedly highly developed noggins. They, in my opinion, are the one's causing the conflict, not the hawks.

Now to the 2008 season at 927 Fifth Avenue--

Longtime watcher of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte, Brett Odom, remembered another possible clue to the puzzle of Pale Male and Lola's 2008 failure---

Hey Donna.

With regard to John Blakeman's observations about PM and Lola's eggs last year. I do remember Lincoln Karim ( posting something last spring about PM & Lola leaving the eggs unattended for about 14 minutes (possibly more). I do not recall the weather of this specific instance, but if PM & Lola did this once for Lincoln to observe, it could be safe to say it happened more than that and the weather could have gotten to the eggs.

Brett B. Odom

It's true. According to the Red-tail literature egg viability can be destroyed by the cooling of eggs during absences and even with an adult covering the eggs in cold windy, or cold wet weather.

Jeff Kollbrunner, the main watcher of Papa and Momma in Queens sent in a file of weather information. Thanks Jeff.

Also for those who might want to help browse the weather for Spring of 2008, uptown hawkwatcher Rob Schmunk of sent an extemely helpful email--

What I have used for this is

Look up today's weather for the location of interest.
Then on that page look for a link that says "Weather History for This Location".

The page you are looking at will have links on it for daily, weekly,monthly and yearly info. It will look like it's only bringing up a graph of info, but page down to see a table. Unfortunately though, Wundergound has ads all over it. It will be a much more pleasant site if you have an ad blocker plugin in your browser.

Thank you Rob!

Donegal Browne

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pale Male and Lola, A letter from Mai, and More Crows For Sadie

March 17, 2008 --7:11PM
Lola returns from eating the dinner Pale Male brought her.

Long time reader and contributor to the NYC Hawk blogs, Mai Stewart, responds to John Blakeman's thoughts about Pale Male, Lola, and the 2009 season.

Dear John,

I was so interested to read your email to Donna re the possibilities for PM/Lola in 2009.

I'm almost positive that the weather you described in your email -- persistently, even unusually, cold, rainy, windy days -- occurred last spring, esp. in March and April. I remember this, because I remember wondering at the time whether the raptors, and the eggs, could survive. I believe we had a lot of this kind of weather during those months -- perhaps even snowshowers, although I'm not positive about the snow.

What I don't remember as well is how much time Lola and PM spent off the nest, leaving the eggs uncovered. There's always plenty of prey here no matter what the season, so that's not an issue.

But I believe the weather was daunting, although, conversely, the Riverside Park hawk pair successfully hatched their eggs, and their nest was even more unprotected than PM/Lola's.

So we have a paradox here in NYC. (Nothing unusual about that!) Of course, last year, the failure to hatch at 927 was attributed to the steel structure on which the nest now rests, and questions persisted about PM's viability. But now, thanks to your observations and investigations, hopefully we have another cause, which gives us new hope for this year!

I'd love to hear, via Donna's website, from any other NYC hawkwatchers who might remember what the weather was like last spring, or who may have checked the meterological records, to confirm whether I'm remembering correctly or not.

In any case, as I once emailed Marie, I refuse to give up hope on the 927 nest until some incontrovertible, definitive facts become apparent which show that PM/Lola absolutely cannot reproduce!

Thanks so much for bringing this new information to light!

Happy New Year,


From weatherman Todd Hill's monthly weather snopsis for Staten Island, March, 2008.

In Staten Island, March of 2008, there were 13 days colder than normal
Lowest temperature was 27F on March 10th
Wettest day --- 1.21 inches rain on 7th
Peak wind gust --- 64 mph (northwest) on 8th registered at Newark Airport
Average cloud cover 61%

Snow-a trace

Rarely do the Crows venture into the patio feeding area. This morning two did. This bird walked across the iced over snow carefully looking down. ( Wisconsin had a January thaw and then froze over again, harder than a rock. When I stepped out of the car Monday into the driveway after my trip from the airport, I found myself sitting on the pavement in the blink of an eye. Nothing hurt but my dignity.) Then she'd punch through the ice with her beak, and I assume eat the tidbit, likely a sunflower seed, she'd seen through the ice.

Notice that the bird in the top Crow photo is almost out of the left frame. So of course I just had to creep over to the right for a better position.

Crow sees me and I think, DRAT she's going to fly away as usual when I'm seen. That's it for this photo op.

But instead of a burst of wings, she stood up and gave me a good hard look through the ice spattered glass. Well, that's interesting. That's never happened before. Does she recognize me? Have I finally reached the semi-okay stage with this Crow?

My jaw dropped. I must have changed status with this Crow anyway, because she leaned over and went about her foraging again.

Until a moment later when Pyewackit Cat raced over to see what I was looking at. Crow would put up with me or possibly put up with the cat, but not both of us together.
So there goes Crow with the other two members of her foraging party. But as she stayed once, it's a lot more likely that she'll stay at some point again. Hope must spring eternal when it comes to Crow watching.
NEXT UP--More gorgeous photos of Valkyrie of Tompkins Square Park taken by photographer Francois Portmann!!!
Donegal Browne

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pale Male, Lola, John Blakeman, and the Ethereal Twins

Pale Male and Lola standing on the 927 nest, 2007

Pale Male and Lola staring into the nest bowl the same day.

And what might 2009 bring? Some words on the coming season from Red-tail biologist John Blakeman--

Soon, diligent hawkwatchers will begin to see the 2009 breeding season commence. Out here in Ohio we’ve already seen a few meager sexual flights. In a few weeks, and especially in February, breeding behaviors will resume in earnest among experienced pairs. Although it’s still hard winter, we can always look forward to spring with the resumption of the breeding behaviors of Red-tailed Hawks, which will start to occur at any time now.

Once again, we’d all delight in having eyasses once again at 927 Fifth Ave. I have a heretofore unannounced explanation for what may have happened last year. If this new perspective is true, there can be great hope that Red-tail reproduction at 927 will gloriously resume this spring.

After learning of the observations of hawkwatchers and falconers here in Ohio during the summer and fall of the past year, it is now clear that the 927 nest was not the only one to fail last spring. In October, at the height of the migration period, when immature Red-tails moving down from Michigan and Ontario should have been in abundance, very few immatures were seen this fall in Ohio.

I and two other falconers spent about six hours on five different days racking up almost 200 miles of travel on each day, all in the search for migrating immature Red-tails. We counted ample and typically high numbers of adults, from about 25 to 40 different adults each day. Ohio did not lack for mature Red-tails this fall. Their numbers were wonderfully high (as they have been in the last 20 years or so).

But we were seeing only one or two immatures on each of these back-roads hawk watching trips. In normal years, the ratio of adults to immatures in October would have been between about three to one, on down to five to one. Three adults to every immature is the usual range. This year, it was ten or twenty adults to one immature. On one day, we saw about 30 adults, and not a single immature.

Something was wrong.

Since October, I’ve talked to a number of my falconer friends in Ohio, along with some information from over in Pennsylvania. These people discovered exactly the same thing. There were very few immature Red-tailed Hawks in Ohio this year, and probably reduced numbers to the east.

The explanation I offer is this. One of my former apprentice falconers, a man who is now an expert master falconer, who also (like so many falconers, for obvious reasons) watches wild Red-tails in his area in eastern Ohio, gave me his explanation for the dearth of immature Red-tails this year.

In October I mentioned the difficulties I was having trying to find wild, migrant immature Red-tails here along the southern shores of Lake Erie, in rather wild areas that normally abound with these and other migrant raptors. My friend said, “John, don’t you remember that horrible wet, windy, rainy snowstorm we had last spring, either in the last week of March or the first week in April?” I said, “No, I don’t.”

My friend said that just before this aberrant weather hit, he was watching a local Red-tail sitting on a nest, one that he could easily scope out near his house. He said that after this weather hit, the female left the nest for excessively long periods of time. It returned and completed incubation, but the eggs became cooled and no eyasses fledged from that nest last spring.

And that’s my explanation, at least for the paucity of immature Red-tails in Ohio this year. In talking with other Red-tail watchers and falconers in the region, we now agree that there had been a general regional nesting failure in the spring of 2008, and event that probably happens once every 10 to 20 years or so. These infrequent failures have no discernible affects on the adult population, as they all easily survive the cold, wet, rainy, windy weather in March or early April. But as with the nest of my friend, two things apparently can happen to terminate successful incubation.

In the worst case, enough snow can fall so as to obscure the hawks’ primary prey, the common field vole. After expending herself laying two or three eggs, a sitting female Red-tail can get rather hungry. If her tiercel mate is having difficulty finding voles under the snow, even for a day or so, she may get hungry enough to leave the nest and go hunt for herself, there by lethally cooling the eggs.

The second egg-killing event probably does not involve the obscuring of prey by snow. If there are persistent strong, cold, rainy winds, even in the best wild nest too much cold air can get down through the nest and cool the eggs, especially when the mother has to stand up and slice (defecate), or when she stands up to start tearing some prey her mate has brought her for food.

In most years, in all but the most severe weather conditions no lethal egg-cooling events occur. But my falconer friend diligently observed this at his wild nest, noting the absence of the female for short periods of time during the extremely foul weather.

All of this raises the question (for which I have no definitive answer), were there one or two days in Manhattan last March or April that were extremely windy, cold, and wet? Could the one or two days of really bad weather Ohio had have blown right into NYC? If so, this may well be the explanation for 2008's 927 nest failure.

Someone may have access to NYC weather records from mid March through mid April, and could more accurately determine the possibility of a severe, aberrant weather event there. There is no doubt it happened here. It was closely noted at one Ohio Red-tail nest, and there were very few immatures seen in the state during the summer and autumn. There was a marked hatch failure here last spring, and the only explanation is severe weather, involving mostly excessive cold wind and drenching rain during incubation.

If that’s what happened at 927 Fifth Ave last spring, there is renewed hope that eyasses might again grace the nest structure at that site.

One last point. Many have been concerned that Pale Male, old as he is, might not be able to produce viable sperm. I assert once again that his is highly unlikely. In autumn, I talked to a long-time falconer friend and biologist in Kentucky, raising the question of the healthful age of old Red-tails. This good man pointed out that he had a male falconry Red-tail that he had trapped as an immature bird, in it’s first year, and that he had hunted with it for 34 straight years. All the while it remained in good health and hunted successfully the entire time. In comparison, Pale Male is not geriatric in any sense.

Here’s hoping for 2009, both with my wild Red-tails in Ohio, and especially for the iconic ones at 927 Fifth Ave in NYC.

–John A. Blakeman

(Hear, hear!!! D.B.)

R. of Illinois discovered this piece of winter magic...

Photograph courtesy of Tim Gillette

A pair of kine, fit to pull the sleigh of the Faerie Queen

For more on these two other worldly twins follow the link--

Donegal Browne

Sunday, January 04, 2009



ELEANOR J. TAUBERactress, singer, artist, writer, photographer, and bird watcher – passed away at age 71 on December 20 at Calvary Hospital following an illness. Eleanor understudied Dina Merrill in the lead role of Mrs. Manningham in the Broadway production of Angel Street in the 1970’s. She played Mrs. Oxenham in the Star Package Tour of The Hot L Baltimore with Jan Sterling and was a member of the Hypothetical Theatre Company, Inc. and the performance art group DADAnewyorkDADAnynyDADA.

Off-Broadway, Eleanor performed in several plays at the Pulse Theatre on Theatre Row, including O’Keeffe, Sunset of an Artist, a one-woman show about George O’Keeffe. On television, she played featured roles on All My Children and One Life to Live, as well as the U.S. Steel Hour, Robert Montgomery Presents, and the Lux Video Theatre.

Eleanor was born Eleanor Blumberg in Philadelphia on January 15, 1937 and was previously married to William Tauber. After graduation from high school, she was offered a fully paid four-year scholarship to Bryn Mawr. The pull toward acting was too great, however, so she turned down the scholarship to study with Jasper Deeter at the famed Hedgerow Repertory Theatre in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, where she performed several roles in the Repertory Theatre, including Anne Shakespeare in A Cry of Players, Esther in The Price, and The Widow Quinn in Playboy of the Western World. Among the other roles she played during her career are Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Maria in Twelfth Night, Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Gertrude in Hamlet.

An avid member of the Central Park birding community, Eleanor was a devoted supporter of causes related to nature, animals, ecology, and humanitarianism. As an Audubon Society volunteer, she spent many mornings working with Project Safe Flight, rescuing stunned and injured birds that collided with the City’s skyscrapers during the night. She could often be found watching her favorite red-tailed hawks, Pale Male, Lola, and their brood, from the “hawk bench” in the Park.

In the last few years, Eleanor realized her dream of becoming a nature photographer when she purchased a digital camera, which gave her a whole new avenue of creative expression. Her talent is unmistakable in the hundreds of images she created, primarily of birds, landscapes, plants, insects, and other wildlife in her beloved Central Park.

Eleanor was a very spiritual person who had an unwavering childlike awe and reverence for the beauty and soulfulness of nature. She touched many lives, and she is and will remain sorely missed.

Eleanor is survived by her cousins, Martin, Arnold, Janet, Noemi, David, and Daniel Goldstein, and Miriam, Sheldon, Janet, and Andrew Einhorn.

Expressions of sympathy can be made via donations to the Natural Resources Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund, Humane Society, Audubon Society, or the American Bird Conservancy.

A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, January 11 at 2:00 at MetaCenter, 214 West 29th Street, 16th Floor.

When I received the first photograph in today's post, the photo that accompanied the Memorial announcement, it was very strange. Nice photo, and yes, that was certainly Eleanor's smiling face, but somehow it wasn't Eleanor either.

Then this photo was sent by Melanie Votaw along with Eleanor's obituary. And then I knew what it was, I'd never seen Eleanor without her binoculars, her camera, and her hat, ready for action in the field even if sitting in a New York City cafe with me in between birding action.

I suspect it will be much the same for those who knew wonderful Eleanor and also read this blog. Here is the information concerning the Celebration of Eleanor's life.

Eleanor Tauber is Remembered

Please join us to Celebrate Eleanor’s Life.
Sunday, January 11th, 2009
2pm – 5 pm

META Center

214 West 29th Street

16th Floor

Between 7th & 8th Avenue NYC

Take the subway to Penn Station. Parking Garage is available across the street

The META Center requests that all guests remove their shoes at the door. No food is permitted and water will be provided.

Please contact me if you would like to share a few words at the memorial. Contact: Donna Perrone h)212 254 9453 c)646 283 977

Expressions of sympathy can be made via donations to the Natural Resources Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund, Humane Society, Audubon Society, or the American Bird Conservancy.

Check- to review Eleanor’s Obituary beginning on Monday.

Some months ago, Eleanor sent me this photograph of a Raccoon kit. It wasn't kit season, and we hadn't been talking about Raccoons on the blog, as she had the amazing ability to quietly go through her archives and come up with just the shot I didn't have one of to illustrate whatever new angle the blog conversation had taken. This one just arrived with a little note.

It wasn't for publication or anything she said, but she'd decided it was, of all the photographs she'd taken, her favorite. As we all know, Eleanor watched the raccoon cavities long and perceptively. She said this was the absolute first time that this kit had poked his head out and looked at the outside world. She said, "Just think, he's looking out with eyes that have never seen any of it before and you can see it in his face. What a wonder and a gift to watch him see!"

And it was a wonder and a gift to walk with Eleanor though the parks, and talk with Eleanor, and best of all it was a wonder and a gift to SEE with Eleanor.

And before we go on to see more of the amazing things Eleanor captured to share with us, a side note. While I was putting Eleanor's Kit on the blog, and thinking of her, and looking closely at this little guys eyes, I saw that in his left eye, you can see Eleanor's reflection seeing him, while he's seeing her, see him. And eye reflects eye, reflects eye, reflects eye...

Eleanor Tauber definitely took some flashy photos like this Green Honey Creeper male
And this Green Honey Creeper female. Unquestionably not birds we all see every day.

But then on the other hand she took photographs of the most "normal" things and had us look at them as well. And gosh, it was always well worth it. Here's the duck she called Curly dozing on the Model Boat Pond.

No one who saw this photo could resist Independent Duckling. Eleanor always kept photo track of the Frick Hen and her ducklings and shared it with the blog readers. Now this little guy, really is little compared to his brothers and sisters. but in this case he's made a decision to get there first and you can see he's pleased as punch at being king of the mountain. Okay, duckling raft.

Here come the rest.

Little Independent Duckling has already finished his preening thank you.
The rest may want to face the other direction, but Independent D is taking a little stroll to prove he can.
And here are the Frick Ducklings from the next year.
And a look at what Independent D grew up to be.
And when the conversation turned to Burrowing Owls? Wow, Eleanor had photographed some of those as well.
The antique sophisticated colors of the Lenten Roses captured perfectly.
But nothing wrong with everyday pansies and an everyday fly either. She made them special too.
And how about a loving portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

Or the sinister Evil Magician Grackle?

A young Catbird, not rare but special with his fleshly caught prey.

Eleanor always sent me photos of Central Park's special visitors if I'd not been able to see them myself. Here is a Pied-billed Grebe.

Now there are many people who take pictures in New York Cities Parks. But I've never seen anyone do what Eleanor did with flowers.

The three photographs of the Lotuses for instance.

And take note of the Blue Darter Dragonfly.

The beauty shot of a Yellow Jacket and yellow flowers, of course.

But Eleanor, a woman after my own heart, was fascinated by behavior even if it wasn't a typical beauty shot.

Not a rare bird, or even a native one, who cares! Look at that great display of courship begging.

She was never afraid to touch. Take Orange Spikey here .

And after the long winter it was Eleanor who let me know that the buds had begun to burst.

A portrait of Super Bee as she called him.

And just in case, I might not have an appropriate photograph to post on the blog for a holiday, she always sent one in just to make sure. Bleeding Hearts for Valentine's Day of course.

A conversation about birds drying their feathers in the sun? Here's a photo to match!

A sweet bunch of delicate flowers peeking out of the darkness.
A LEO giving the eye...
And Eleanor's Cartoon Blue Jay, or at least that is what she called him. He appeared one day and started to "chat" with her. It's interesting, Eleanor often had birds come up and "talk" to her. And they really did seem to. I've been there when it happened.

A Swamp Sparrow sounds off...

Just look at that expression!

Dad feeds a fledgling.

Autumn leaf beetle...
Eleanor's portrait of Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.'s 888 eyass who was the center of all the hoopla for coming down in Ziegfield Plaza.

Sure she snagged shots of the famous birds, but didn't forget the egg sacs of a spider.
The eggs of the Argeope Spider as a matter of fact.

A lotus in water that reflects the sky..

And a sky that contrasts the flushing bird...

A cicada exoskeleton...

And a wee sparrow in the Conservatory Garden having a bath.

Every feather in a Double Crested Cormarant's wing...

And the feeling of evening coming on....
And yes, the Turkey of Central Park.
Not long before her death, Eleanor sent this photograph of the Central Park Turkey, who she said had walked with her awhile the last time she'd been to Central Park. There is no question in my mind that Eleanor will continue to walk with all of us in Central Park, beast or bird, human or flower with the lesson to see as if you've never seen any of it before.
Thank you Eleanor Tauber.
Eleanor, my daughter Sam, and I, all actresses, were going to go take tea at Alice's Teacup one day and talk about acting. But somehow whenever the outing was planned, something in Central Park pulled us in. An Indigo Bunting was in the Maintenance Yard! Pale Male and Lola had started copulating on Fifth Avenue! Or Eleanor had discovered Turtle eggs and off we went breathing fast to see what we could see. I do wish we had made it to Alice's Teacup in a way, but then again I wouldn't have wanted to miss a moment of my time in Central Park with Eleanor either.
Donegal Browne