Saturday, March 07, 2009

Valkyrie Hunts, Blackwater Eagle Feeding, Sutton Egg Turning, Tulsa Status, and the Wisconsin Great Horned Owl is Back

Photographic Art of Valkyrie, the Tompkins Square Red-tail by Francois Portmann who says, "Here's, a little precision strike at Tompkins Square Park!"

Screen Capture courtesy of the Blackwater Eagle Cam.
R. of Illinois says, "Blackwater adult feeding two tiny tiny gray chicks."

Courtesy of the Sutton Eagle Cam.
Capture made by Maizie of the Tulsa Hawk Forum
Bald Eagle parent turns the three eggs. Note the foot and talon position.

How are Tulsa's Kay and Jay? From Jackie of the Tulsa Forum—"Still no eggs!"

It was 61 F. today so I was out in the muddy yard doing a little winter clean up when what should I come across, but another neatly decapitated Bunny. Yes, it looks like the Great Horned Owl is back in town.

It amazes me that there is no blood on the ground, on the fur, on any in the area in which I find these rabbits.

Yesterday, late afternoon, I kept hearing a rolling call that made me think owl but I couldn't actually place where I had heard it or from whom. I searched and the sound seemed to move around the neighborhood, or more likely was echoing differently off the buildings as the caller shifted the direction in which she was directing the sound.

After finding the rabbit, I then searched the neighborhood for a possible roosting spot. Though it eventually became near time for Owl to start preping and preening before fly-out, not one crow, or jay, could be heard mobbing any bird as is the usual harassment tactic, before a fly out. I admit I did not get even close to what a full hunting area might be for a Great Horned so I'll keep checking. There is a small woods with a mowed field in front of it, across the street and beyond the high school which will be my next search area. We'll see what can be found.

Speaking of finding things, I found this scat within a foot of No Head Bunny. I've just looked through hundreds of scat photos without coming up with a match. The closest was that of a fox. But it seems completely unlikely that a fox would just leave a nice fresh bunny body just lying there. Does anyone know what owl scat looks like? I couldn't find any photos but this doesn't have any of the "white wash" that most bird scat has due to it's uric acid content.

The Geese began to move two days ago and now the Starlings have returned too. This afternoon I heard the twittering of Goldfinch and lo and behold two males were disputing territory. Spring is at least thinking about happening. Though the weatherman says we're going to have more snow on Sunday night.

Out at Thresherman's Park, the six Crow family group that overwintered here seems to have increased by two suddenly.

And hardy Steam the Red-tailed Hawk tiercel who hunts Thresherman's Park and who I have watched faithfully guard he and his mate's territory through two hard winters, sits on a favorite pole hunting. And I wouldn't doubt keeping an eye out for his mate to return safely from her soujourn south, where I believe she winters. There, without the heavy snow cover she can more easily find the higher number of calories she needs for her larger size and return healthy and plump for the upcoming breeding season.

Donegal Browne

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kay and Jay Red-tail of Tulsa, The Wildshield Busting Golden Eagle, A Mini-update on Urban Hawks Charlote and Pale Male Jr. and More on Foxes

Photo courtesy of Yahoo News

Both R. of Illinois and Jeff Kollbrunner of sent in this news item about the Golden Eagle vs The Big Rig.

Golden--1, Windshield--0

"RENO, Nev. – The eagle has landed — with a thud — after crashing throughthe windshield of a tractor-trailer on a Nevada highway. State wildlifeofficials said Wednesday that a 15-pound golden eagle with a 7-foot wingspan has a swollen head but otherwise appears unhurt after crashing into aFlorida truck driver's big rig on Monday.
Click for more!

Photos of Tulsa Hawks attached from this week (all captures, unless noted otherwise): An update from Tulsa Hawkwatcher Jackie Dover--
1. Gentlehawk Jay


The KJRH Tower nest is now a very substantial structure, and the center is packed with soft material--looks ready! So does Kay, ever rounder. The last couple of days, the number and length of her nest visits have increased.

Today (Wednesday, March 4) she was in the nest both in the morning and afternoon. A couple visits this week have lasted 30-50 minutes. She does do some nest-tending, but is also spending much quiet time there, just watching.

The big news today was that Jay twice brought in prey to the nest, each time accompanied by Kay. Both times Kay quickly took the prey (at least one, a bird) from him and flew off. As far as we know, Kay has not yet spent the night in the nest.

This year the view of the nest will be even clearer, as a double-barred rail at the "front" of the nest was removed last summer. I'm attaching a few photo captures, taken from the KJRH Hawk Cam live video.

In addition, one of our Forum members has put together some YouTube videos of recent nest activity highlights, also taken from the KJRH Hawk Cam. All clips prepared and presented under the name bobdmac--(Link below in Tulsa Donna's update.)

KJRH has also added a new feature to its Hawks Nest page--a live chatroom, which is featured just under the Hawk Cam window, so that viewers can watch the live action and comment live, as well. This is in addition to our Forum, which continues to offer observations and screen captures. Here is the link to the Hawks Nest page:

And the Forum:

2. Jay taking bark to the Tower (photo by Catgirl)
(Catgirl is Cheryl Cavert who only took up a camera when the Tulsa Hawks came into her life and has taken truly marvelous photos for us all to enjoy ever since. Here is the link to her Flickr page. D.B. )

3. Also, Jay taking bark (photo by Catgirl)

4. Jay and Kay with a prey at the nest, 3/4/09

Jay left and Kay right. First of all one can see the head of the left bird, and it is light, meaning Jay, and the right bird looks bulkier but pretend those two comparisons weren't available to you to ID the birds and look at the "ankles". The bird on the right has thicker ankles, therefore she is the female.

5. Kay, 3/4/09

6. No eggs yet, 3/4/09

7. Jay and Kay both tugging on the same bark strip

8. The nest, 3/4/09

Again, the YouTube highlights are an excellent recap.

Jackie (Tulsa Hawk Forum)

And more news from Tulsa Hawkwatcher Donna-

We had a very active day in the KJRH hawks nest today and although Kay has not laid any eggs yet their work on the nest as been very intense. The KJRH webmaster also put up a live chat for us to communicate in. First I wanted to send you a series of shots I got a few days ago when it was windy. Jay landed in the nest and proceeded to arrange the sticks. He picked one up turned to move it and the wind caught him just right to almost send him tumbling!! He put the stick down turned looked and flew off kind of like” forget that it is too windy”.

Jay just short of flipping tail or teakettle in the wind.

Besides the numerous visits to the nest there were two occasions when Kay and Jay may have been having a disagreement over some food. Several viewers witnessed them. One of the forumers “Bobdmac” has been recording videos also and putting them on “you tube”.
Here is a link to it:

I know he recorded the first time that Kay and Jay landed in the nest at the same time. One of them had some prey and they had a disagreement over who was to get it. It is worth watching!

Jay gives up on twigging for the moment and who could blame him.


Hey Donna,

I see both Charlotte and Junior every day that I am at work now. Yesterday, I saw Charlotte bring some paper to line the nest and then later I saw her perched on the roof of the building for about 30 minutes. I'm hoping to come in this weekend sometime to get some photographs.

Brett Odom

And R. of Illinois comes through again with the answer to my question as to exactly how had Sutton Mom nudged Dad out of the nest, plus some personal fox sighting information from her.
Sutton eagle mom used her shoulder and side/body to nudge dad off the eggs. It was gentle, but it was persistent, especially as he was trying to ignore her.
On another subject, about 15 years ago on a snowy winter night, by the automatic yard light, I saw a fox climb my tree to get at the bird feeder which was easily 6 feet off the ground and no low branches to aid the climb.Having had no clue that foxes climbed trees, I did some research. Gray foxes which do inhabit this part of the Midwest, though not in any substantial numbers, are tree climbers. And apparently bird-seed eaters too.
Nowdays I put out generic cat or dog food for whatever takers come along, foxes, coyotes, opossum, feral cats, raccoons, and even the starlings and jays love the cat/dog food.
Robin you can add NYC pigeons to that list as well. When I leave the terrace door open, the local pigeons walk through the door, cross the living room, and make their way into the kitchen to help themselves to the cat's big bowl of chow.
And what are the cats doing? Looking on in stunned wonder at the sheer hutzpah of these pigeons.
New Yorkers are New Yorkers no matter their species.
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Tulsa Hawks, Nest Materials, Fox or Coyote, and Jackie Dover's Peanut Gallery

Screen Capture Courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa
Screen Captures gleaned by Jackie Dover of the Tulsa Hawk Forum--
She says, Kay and Jay, from Feb. 23, I'm calling it "Commonality of Purpose." That says a lot, doesn't it--to both birds and men.

(That is Jay in the back, he has the lighter head, and Kay in the foreground. Just what are they both looking and thinking about I wonder? D.B.)

Screen Capture Courtesy of KJRH Tulsa TV
Jackie Dover of the Tulsa Hawk Forum collected these screen captures of the fascinating nest materials that Kay and Jay have used to fashion their nest. Below is her note.

Screen Capture Courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa
Pine Needles?

Screen Capture Courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa
More Ever-Greenery. This must be the place they are using for sure, though there really hasn't been much doubt that Kay and Jay would use it again.

Screen Capture Courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa

Screen Capture courtesy of KJRH TV Tulsa
London Plane Fruit

Screen Capture KJRH TV Tulsa
And a plastic bag with flowers. For whatever reason, plastic bags and other manmade materials are often included in Red-tailed nests but the plastic bags soon disappear. I suspect that their wing catching ability soon sends them off the nest and fluttering across town.
Screen Capture KJRH TV
Kestrels just have to do it. They just have to perch on or near any Red-tail nest when the pair is otherwise occupied. The nests do tend to be wonderful viewing areas to scope out prey but also there just might be a bit of counting coup involved for these little plucky falcons.
The Sutton, Oklahoma Eagle Cam (visible only by daylight - clear, color real-time video feed), has two camera views of the nest. And they have THREE eggs! I saw a hand-off this morning where the dad (smaller in size) was sitting on the eggs and the mom (larger) came to the nest and started nudging dad repeatedly until he got off and she then nestled down into the nest.
Catbird, Did Sutton Mom nudge Dad with her forehead? Top of Beak? Or breast?
Photo by Karen Anne Kolling
Blog Contributor Karen Kolling of the Gadzooks Deck has succeeded in getting photographs of her Mystery Mammal. Here is what she had to say--
Photo by Karen Anne Kolling
The fox? coyote? was back this morning. He or she must really be hungry, to be eating birdseed, poor guy. I wonder if there is some food not containing animals that I can put out there for him. The web seems to say they will eat "fruit," so I'll try some apples.
Photo by Karen Anne Kolling
Well, I'm certainly not an expert on these species but that is certainly a foxy looking nose and tail.
I do wonder if a Prairie Wolf/Coyote being originally a buffalo predator would eat bird seed? Fox on the other hand are selective omnivores.
Photo by Jackie Dover
First Mr. Blue Jay, challenges the photographer with a look that says, "Make my day."
Photo by Jackie Dover
Then Mourning Dove is just pecking away minding her own business, when she gets the same treatment. Wing ready for a wing thump or flight, she glares back and then takes to her seed again. No takers so Mr. Blue Jay takes off with his peanut confident he has cowed all comers whether they were interested or not.

Photo by Jackie Dover
Edward G. Robinson Squirrel just might give Mr. Blue Jay a run for his peanut.
Photo by Jackie Dover
The Belly Perch
Photo by Jackie Dover
Just leaning over the fence and checking on what the neighbors might have to offer.
Photo by Jackie Dover
Incoming for peanuts!
A note in from NYC Hawkwatcher Brett Odom--He was watching City Slickers on Animal Planet, an episode which included Pale Male, (and believed he saw my daughter Samantha and I taking photos of Pale Male). At any rate, City Slickers has rated Red-tailed Hawks sixth on their list for adaptability to urban settings. I'd like to see the episode, though I doubt they will feature boars in the U.S., as per yesterday's post. If anyone happens to see the episode, could you please send me the episode number/title. Thank you.
Donegal Browne

Blackwater Eagles Have a Hatch! And an Influx of Wild Boars.

From the Blackwater Eagle Cam Log:

"1st egg laid: January 23
Hatched: March 2 (early AM)
Days of incubation: 38 days

2nd egg laid: January 26
Hatched: March 3 (early AM)
Days of incubation: 36 days

As those who have followed our Eagle Cam in the past know, we always like to see the eaglets hatch close together, because it helps to keep them closer in size and might lessen some of the competition between them. We’ll still see sibling rivalry in the nest (the older eaglet pecking the younger one on the head), but fortunately this year the eaglets hatched very close to one another, so one eaglet won’t have 2-3 days of growth advantage over its sibling.

We continue to be amazed at the performance of our parents. Both parents have been bringing in food (fish and a bird), which is a marked improvement from last year, when our father seemed to not be aware that his job involved providing regular meals.

In addition, the parents have also done a great job of sharing the incubation duties, especially through the storm. They rarely left the eggs/chick uncovered for long, and both parents gave each other a break from incubation duties so the other could leave the nest and feed.

Speaking of the storm, on the morning of March 1 — just before the older eaglet began the hatching process and before the storm arrived — we saw a touching scene on the nest. Normally our male eagle roosts elsewhere (probably in a nearby tree or in the nest tree) during the evening hours and we never see the parents sleeping together on the nest. But on the morning of March 1, the two parents slept together for a short time. It was hard to tell who was the extra parent, but it was probably the male. We’re not sure why they slept together on this particular morning, but maybe the older eaglet had just started chirping from inside its shell, and the other parent decided to stay close."

Wild Boar, Courtesy of

We have Red-tails and Turkeys adapting to urban areas in the U.S., but Germany has Wild Boar ... a news item from South African Filmmaker Adam Welz

Foxes and hares create havoc in urban Germany

March 03 2009 at 10:41AM

Berlin - Hares, foxes and wild boar are increasingly migrating into Germany's cities, causing havoc and even sometimes endangering humans, a major wildlife organisation said on Monday
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Convocation of WI Eagles and Norman and Isolde at the Cathedral

Sent in by R. of Illinois--
The eagles have landed!!
Wonderful photos taken from a house in the northwoods near Minocqua , WI .

This was about 400 feet from the house on Eagle River.

I find it interesting that the percentage of white headed adults to the under four-year-olds seems much higher than what I've seen previously in eagle gatherings in the state.

It really is a big WOW!
Photo by James O'Brien
NYC Urban Birdwatcher James O'Brien hit the jackpot with his latest visit to Norman and Isolde up at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The Divines do seem to be going to nest on St. Andrew yet again this season. Check James' wonderful photos on his blog --
Donegal Browne

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Successful One-eyed Juvie RT and a Fox on the Deck

Photograph by Robert B. Schmunk

NYC Hawkwatcher Rob Schmunk and creator of the Bloomingdale Village Blog, had a Red-tail surprise. Here is his note--

I was startled when very late this afternoon while walking over to the Great Hill to encounter a juvenile red-tail perched at eye level alongside the sidewalk in the middle of the Frederick Douglass house sat 103rd St., between Amsterdam and Columbus. And not only was the Juvie
there but so were Norman and Isolde. Apparently the adults were keeping an eye on an interloper. The juvie stayed put where it was for 15-20 minutes, but as soon as it moved, one of the adults gave it a chase-off.

But the reason I'm writing is to note that the juvie is also injured.I thought at the time that it had a very odd dark look to its eyes,but it was only on reviewing pictures that I finally realized the truth. It had no right eye at all. The eyebrow is also collapsed a bit, so it has an almost sinister look when viewed from that side.

The injury is apparently not recent, so the juvie has so far managed to get along despite the handicap.

Spring is almost here (barring the blizzard that's supposed to be rolling in tonight), so perhaps it will make it through the dreaded first-year survival statistics.

See attached pic taken from the front which shows both sides.

-- Robert B. Schmunk

It is amazing how many successful one-eyed raptors there are. The mate of Pale Male's who was the first mom of his young, had one eye. I just watched a documentary about a successfully breeding one eyed Bald Eagle female. Her monovision being just an interesting side note to all the hunting, brooding, and work involved in raising eaglettes.

Photograph courtesy of

Rhode Island's Karen Anne Kolling, had yet another of her Gadzooks-what-in-the-world-is-on-my-deck-now moments-- I believe the last one was thought to be a Great Horned Owl nabbing a raccoon (correction--it was a skunk!) right out from under her nose. Here is the newest--

Holy Toledo, a fox just came onto my deck. For maybe fifteen seconds, so no time to get a photo.

At least I think it was a fox, somewhat orangeish fur, I just looked at fox and coyote photos on the web. I don't know where he or she can be living. This is a more wildlife friendly habitat than real suburbia, but still.

While I was trying to find him again after I snatched up my camera, I saw someone walking a dog down the street, so maybe the fox had been hiding from the dog.

What a gift to have all these wonderful animals around,


Your orange-ish mammal could well be a fox, even though your habitat is less than pristine. Two years ago about this time, I walked out of a building in the middle of town here in WI and watched a Red Fox trot across the parking lot, the street, and onward past the buildings on the other side, just as brazen as you please.

I suspect that it is "that" time of year again, in which the usually solitary foxes get out and about traveling beyond their usual stomping grounds to look for mates. Or your fox could be a young Vulpes vulpes fulva out looking for an as yet unclaimed territory.

Also I just read that foxes are often lured near houses by a pet that is in heat in the neighborhood. They don't particularly want to mate with or molest the pet, they just seem interested in finding out what kind of animal it is exuding the fragrance.

Keep an eye peeled, Fox may be back.

Donegal Browne