Saturday, February 14, 2009

Koala Link That Works

Working Link Courtesy of Karen Anne Kolling....

(I'm having a spot of computer trouble, but am working on it. D.B.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Proof of the Chelsea Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle Rehab, Audubon Says-- Species Wintering Ground Is Changing, and Koalas!

After many an effort, NYC Hawkwatcher Brett Odom gets the goods, if indirectly, on the Chelsea Red-tailed Hawk!

Hey Donna.
I now have some photographic proof, albeit fuzzy since it was taken with a camera phone, of the Chelsea red-tail. A coworker's husband works near 23rd and Broadway and was eating his lunch in Madison Square Park this past Tuesday when he saw a crowd gathering. He went over and realized that it was a red-tail also enjoying his lunch in the park. So he took a photo and shared it with me which I have attached. The white behind the hawk isn't snow, it's the feathers of the white pigeon that was lunch.


Brett B. Odom

From Easterner Karen Anne Kolling with some tips on the video player--

Wow, Bald Eagles are big. This is a video about one being treated. The video player is odd, it doesn't seem to have a way to tell how far you are thru the video and it stopped in a couple of places without any indication of if it was done or not. You have to wait for the reporter to sign off to know it's over. KAK

Photo D.B.
Wisconsin and March snow with a Robin flock passing north.

Robins have been overwintering in Central Park for years.
From Catbird, a Midwesterner on the Tulsa Hawk Forum--
"I've not seen any robins over-winter here but friends have seen them."

In Illinois, robins no longer reliable sign of spring
By Michael Hawthorne Chicago Tribune staff reporter

Once a harbinger of spring in the Chicago area, the American robin increasingly hangs around for the winter, too.

Their familiar dawn-to-dusk caroling might not be as prevalent when snow is on the ground. But robins are among scores of bird species that are steadily moving northward as average temperatures across the United States get warmer according to an Audubon Society study released Tuesday.

More than half of the 305 species in North America are spending winters at least 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago, the study found.During the same period, the nation's average January temperature climbed by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The purple finch moved the farthest, adopting wintering grounds along the latitude of Milwaukee, more than 330 miles north of the edge of its former range. Robins are wintering about 200 miles farther north than they did four decades ago.,0,2518174.story

From contributor R. of Illinois--
It has been so hot in South Australia for over a week…40+ degrees Celsius everyday, very dry also. (Anyone detect a global warming thread here? D.B.) A guy at work lives at Maude. His wife sent him these photos of a little Koala which just walked into the back porch looking for a bit of heat relief. She filled up a bucket and this is what happened!

What a face! And this little guy is only having to deal with severe heat, that kind humans have turned into a day at the pool, unlike some of his relatives...

Bush fires are raging across parts of Australia, decimating everything in their paths, including wildlife. From R. of Illinois--

Picture of hope ... CFA officer David Tree stops to give Sam the koala a drink of water. Picture: Russell Vickery
Sam the Koala holds hands while having her water, in fact she has three bottles of water.
Courtesy of The Australian, Online Newspaper


Sam was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson. Her story was reminiscent of a koala named Lucky who survived the 2003 bushfires that destroyed about 500 homes and killed four people in the capital of Canberra. Lucky became a symbol of hope.

Colleen Wood from the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter that is caring for Sam and Bob said both koalas were doing well while other animals like possums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris.

She said Sam had suffered second degree burns to her paws and would take seven to eight months to recover while Bob had three burned paws with third degree burns and should be well enough to return to the bush in about four months.

"They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs.
They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all
this. It's been horrific," said Wood.


Donegal Browne

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Downtown Bird Chase and Long Island Sal the Red-tail Demonstrates Squirrel Eating for Small Children

As you can see the the city was having a very dark day. You may have to double click on some of the photographs in order to see what I'm talking about.

I looked out my bedroom window at lower Manhattan and noticed a number of birds having an altercation. Here we have a small bird (possibly a Mockingbird by the flight pattern), diving a very large gull and running it north towards the viewer, where it just keeps going. Another bird, same species is heading to the left, east, in pursuit of another large bird, which according to flight pattern, size, and speed looked very much like a Red-tailed Hawk.

Said possible Red-tail has just disappeared behind this building, second possible Mocker is in pursuit, photo right. Note the building in the foreground. Now look for the floor under the crenelated roof, count four windows to the left. See the flash of white against the dark stripe between the fourth and fifth window? That flash is two pigeons diving for cover. Another clue the bird behind the building is a raptor.

Then I loose sight of everyone. The street on the left is Eighth Avenue. The one directly below, out of frame is 42nd. Street. If you strain your eyes utterly on the first break in the skyline to the right, west of Eighth Ave., you'll see a vague impression of the Statue of Liberty.

You'll definitely need to double click on this one. There is a pursuer set against the mid-clump of buildings, the first from the right, west, and a second in the break in the buildings coming up on the far left building. Against the far left building, before one eyes get to the flag is a dark long winged bird which looks to be a Peregrine. There are some in a nesting box downtown. RT hasn't reappeared.

And then as suddenly as the free for all started, it is over.
I've had two reports from neighbors that they have seen an RT hunting around the area and Silver flung himself off his perch today, screaming AWK! A sure sign that he's seen a raptor fly by. As for me...?

I met a friend for dinner this evening, Linda Schiess, who is a school nurse at an elementary school out in Long Island. Last year, an owl, possibly a Great Horned from the sound of it, frequented the school's basketball court, using the hoop for a perch at night, and made a rather large dent in the local bunny population. Each morning, teachers, janitorial stuff, and whatever adult happened to come upon bunny remains, quietly cleaned them up and the children had no idea that a raptor was doing nightly slaughter for her dinner.

This year a very large immature Red-tailed Hawk, Long Island Sal, has taken to hunting the school grounds for squirrels. According to Linda who's brought in her big binoculars to scope Sal out, Sal has been averaging at least two fluffy tailed nut eaters per week. And as we know, RTs are diurnal. They hunt during the day, in full view of whatever moppet might be watching.

Well, yesterday Sal decided to prepare and eat her squirrel meal right outside the nice large windows of the Kindergarten classroom. The teacher noticing Sal ripping the squirrel to bits, being a touch squeamish, and out of her depth perhaps in giving a talk to the teeny set about carnivores, and survival of the fittest, tried to draw the five-year-olds to another area of the room.

Well today a first grade class was trouping across the lawn, and guess who was sitting on the fence ripping the head off her squirrel lunch? Sal of course. And not only was there eviscerating going on but a second squirrel was attempting to investigate what Sal was doing--from the ground, a very bad spot for a squirrel who is near a hawk, and then the squirrel had the temerity to go from the ground to the fence itself. Yes, the one Sal was sitting on. Would there be more slaughter?

By this point the class was beginning to make grossed out noises and exclaim over the situation. Sal spooked, grabbed her food and flying low over the class, it was a meaty squirrel even without a head, made a hasty exit.

The squirrel was definitely out of the bag, one could say, about Sal and her eating habits and somebody really did need to talk to the tots about it. Thank goodness for the male substitute teacher who girded his metaphorical loins and went for it.

He explained that squirrel was one of the foods that hawks ate when they were hungry. Yes, they ate their food raw being short on cooking facilities. That was the natural order of things for hawks and it wasn't like Sal could just go down to the cafeteria when she was hungry and have some of Miss Nancy's Mac and Cheese like they could for lunch. An

The group mulled it over and seemed to decide that made sense. Besides seeing Sal eat a squirrel, was pretty exciting when it got down to it. For as anyone who's had much contact with children knows, there is a part of them that can be a wee bit on bloodthirsty side in the right context.

Good sense has won the day. No one decided that Sal should be disappeared to protect "the children". And who knows how many new urban hawkwatchers may have been created by an adult who was willing to tell the truth, which allowed the youngsters to understand and see what really goes on, day to day, in nature.

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rubber Rooms for Squirrels and The Villager Red-tail "Surprise"

From Jackie of the Tulsa Hawk Forum
Hi, Donna--
While I was looking for bird info, I came across a site by a man who makes squirrel houses out of recycled rubber. I don't know how well they function, and I'm not promoting this product--just thought it was a novel idea. Here is the site, plus attached photos.

And a testimonial note from a user in your neighborhood, who apparently is a squirrel rehabber:
"Sept. 8, 2007
The tire houses got all the way to the East End of Long Island very quickly. They are getting a huge thumbs up from our rehabilitated bumper crop of autumn baby squirrels. I put a tire house in a cage today so they could get used to it. Within twelve hours, all five had moved from their very nice white pine squirrel house and into the tire. So I just ordered two more. How ingenious! We are using them for soft release habitats and are very optimistic. Thanks for your hard work and excellent service.
Penny Moser,
Sag Harbor, NY"

Jackie (Bville on the Tulsa Hawk Forum)

Now isn't this fascinating! Why would a squirrel prefer a rubber house to a wooden one? After all, originally they nested in cavities in trees, so why would they prefer rubber to a wooden squirrel house?
Do they have a grand affection for squishy quarters? Do they love the smell of hot rubber come a warm afternoon? Or is it that the curves are more similar to a natural cavity than our usual squared off built wildlife houses?

Francois Portmann discovered that we'd been published, that's his photo of Valkyrie sitting on top of one of rehabber Carol Vinzant's squirrel houses, without knowing it. He said, "Weird".
Besides we are talking about squirrel houses today, anyway.

I couldn't seem to get the above page to enlarge and stay enlarged when placing it on the blog. Therefore for those who want to scrutinize closely, copy the page, paste into an area with zoom, and go to town.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Size DOES Make a Difference

Remember contributor Karen Anne Kolling's mystery bird of a day or two ago, she writes--

I think this is the same, or same kind of bird, as yesterday. I'm hoping these do better at showing his or her size:

Taking into account her wing bars, white wing patch, plus the bowl, I'd identify this bird as a Mockingbird no question but is this bird the same as the previous one? Or at least the same species?

And here is Karen's bird from the other day. She thought it might be a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A gnatcatcher, though quite similar in coloration and markings to a Mockingbird, is only 4 1/2 inches long. While a Mockingbird is 9 to 11 inches long. That's a big difference if you have something to compare for size.

I'm not familiar with this particular bush at all, so this bird could be 11 inches long or 4 inches. And if a bird is in the middle distance unless a bird, say a Robin, that can't be missed due to shape and color has perched nearby previously for present mental comparison, good size judgment can be compromised or be downright nonexistent.

I don't see much wing barring or the white wing patch that is a field mark for a Mockingbird here either. Though the beak and set of the tail are right.

Wait. Is that a tinge of white on the side of her tail?

Are the marks covered with belly fluff or are they just not there? Maybe they are obscured. Yes, very possibly.

An idea of size c0uld clinch the ID.

Here we go! Thank you Mourning Dove, now we've got something animate to compare with the exiting Mocker and having seen that, Karen makes her decision, that this is the same bird as the other or at least the same species. This one and the previous sighting are Mockingbird size not Chickadee length.

Size does make a difference.

Karen: And if it's morning, it must be time to hang out on the deck
And who? It's the Mourning Dove Brigade. I do love the companionability of this species. They seem to love to just snuggle down over their feet, sit in a group, and watch the world go by. No hassles over perches, no attempts to peck out anyone's eyes, just keeping our feet warm, digesting, and with enough eyes to keep watch for predators that dozing off periodically is absolutely acceptable.

They make life look good.

Donegal Browne