Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tulsa Red-tails-Cavert's 2009 Juvenile Roundup, Langenheim Park

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
Another installment from Tulsa's Cheryl Cavert about Tulsa's 2009 Red-tailed juveniles with some wonderful photographs--

One Sunday morning in July, I spotted one of the Langenheim Park juvies across the street from the park, calling out hungrily. When I had parked and gotten out, the juvie was on a building on one side of the street and a parent was across the street on another building. As I was looking into the sun, I decided to walk around one of the buildings to get the sun behind me but did not want to walk between the hawks. As I rounded the building, I could hear lots of juvie calls, ending with a loud screech. When I first came around the corner, the sight of the juvie in the street alarmed me - until I saw the rat peeking out.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
The parent watched from an overhead power line while the juvie tried to get control of the rat and figure out what to do with it next.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
I stood guard at the corner to slow any cars turning onto the street.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
(This stance so reminds me of a domestic cat, another predator. D. B.)

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
After about ten minutes, one did turn in slowly hugging the opposite side of the road but the juvie flew off to the park. I followed the juivie over to the park and started walking amongst the trees, wondering how far it had flown off. Then the juvie started calling out again in some trees to my left, a loud screech-and the rat fell out of the tree!!!!! Of course shortly followed by the juvie who once again tried to figure out what to do with it before flying off with the now limp rat towards the creek and more trees.

NEXT- Introducing another RT Hawk neighbor to the north of Kay and Jay!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Piggley Wiggley Red-tails and Jane and Rock Bald Eagle

It all started in the Piggley Wiggley parking lot.
For those not familiar with Piggley Wiggleys, they're a chain of grocery stores. I'd gone in, gotten some groceries, including some frozen items, when my cell rang as I was crawling into the car and I began having a heated discussion.
Suddenly a Red-tail winged through the parking lot heading west. I thought, "Hmmm, where is he going?", while massaging my neck from the whiplash of jerking around to see whether that really was a Red-tailed Hawk. My discussion had degraded by then into the fact I should be heading west on Park View Drive for some shots of the foliage.

West? Hmmm, that's the direction the Red-tail went. It's quite cool outside-- the groceries can live through a few minutes before being put away, right?

I head west.

Scanning the treeline far, far across a very large field, I spy them. And it's a pair! Why are they here in particular?

Then I realize there is a combine clearing the corn field on my side. RODENTS! As a field gets cleared eventually the rodents get spooked and make a break for it and that is where the Red-tails come in.

The male takes off.

Landing in a nearly naked tree a couple of trees over from his mate, north, and looks fixedly into the far field.
About then a station wagon pulls up beside me. A voice says, "What are you looking at?" I turn around and there is a very large friendly man sitting in said station wagon. It turns out that he's a painter. The kind that does bridges, and all sorts of outdoorsy kinds of things that raptors hang out on. He begins to tell me about the falcons in Milwaukee and that leads to the pair of Eagles that nest in Janesville, the next town to the south.
"WHAT?", I squeak, there was an eagle's nest just a few miles away and I missed the whole thing? "Where?"
Then, John and I, we're on a first name basis by then, begin the dance of---"Well just go down to such and such Lumber Yard..."
"Wait, wait, I'm from out of town..." To make a long story short, he volunteers to take me to where the eagles hang out in Janesville by the Rock River, right that minute. (Now there's a real temptation, but I've got all those perishables in the car...)
John turns out to be a very nice man, all 6 feet 9inches of him--he'll wait while I go home and throw the groceries into the fridge and freezer and then he'll show me the way.
I do it and we're off!

And there they are just like he said they'd be. That's Jane on the bottom, named for the town of Janesville and Rock, as it is the Rock River they nest by, on the top.

About then, John, he's the human, remember, gets a call from a friend with car trouble and has to go. But he also says he knows where some Screech Owls roost, I should call him, and then he's gone.
Wow, John is turning into the gold mine of Wisconsin raptor finding help.
By this time Rock has headed out to his usual evening roost tree but I stick with Jane.
Jane is looking down rather fixedly at a group of Geese that are swimming by. I wonder if an Eagle can take on Canada Geese? Most likely as they've been known to go for swans in the air anyway.

Jane then stares at me. Thank goodness, finally some human habituated birds, bless 'em. She at least doesn't mind the scope. Whether Rock minded or not I'm not sure as John says he often goes to the other tree about this time in the evening.

And that's when I realize I can't read an Eagle's face. My face experience with Red-tails doesn't cross over at all, at least not yet, with an Eagle's face. I'd have been able to tell whether it was the scope or just time to move perches were it a Red-tail. Drat.

I then have another thought. To me, an Eagle's face always seems to be expressing fierceness, with a good helping of grumpy thrown in. I'm going to have to work on it.
I realize it is beginning to get dark and this is a rather deserted section of town down here by the lumber yard.
I then see this "thing" at the base of Jane's tree. What it that?

Well? What do you think it is? It's hard to judge the size from across the river, but somehow it seems to be almost human sized. A giant stuffed seal who wears a hat? A bizarro disguise for duck hunting?
Jane is giving me the eye in a way that tells me she's about had enough of me. Or is that just the "grumpy" I see in Eagle faces. At any rate, it is time for me to head out. I'll definitely be making some more visits to the eagles before they take off for the winter. Maybe I'll even be able to see "cheerful" in their faces before they leave.
This is where I had placed the photos for Cheryl Cavert's of Tulsa's update for this evening. Blogger ate them. Not that blogger has eaten he's now become tired... so more from Cheryl in the next post.
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kay and Jay Red-tail's Neighbors and Do Ravens Kill Pigeons-A comment

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert

What a beautiful fledgling sitting at his ease, with one foot tucked. Up first today, another installment of Cheryl Cavert's Red-tail Round up from Tulsa--


It seems Kay and Jay's RT hawk neighbors all had more successful nests then they did this spring. Immediately to their east, the 36th&Lewis pair had two fledglings, as well as RanchAcres and Langenheim. The 51st&Peoria pair to the south had one juvie.
I've attached a few photos of one of the RanchAcres juvies.

One evening while trying to eat its share of a rabbit (the back half), a mockingbird harassed it almost nonstop for 20 minutes. One photo shows how close the mockingbird was getting!!!
Next - tales of the Langenheim juvie!

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
And here we have it. A juvenile Red-tail looking Cheryl straight in the eye. Or straight into her eye through the camera, likely. I suspect it looks odd to them because they'll look at it for quite some time.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert

How close is that Mockingbird getting? There is definite contact being made. Enough in fact for the Mocker to scrunch the young hawk's feathers with his feet. Some of the species of the common smaller attack birds, such as Mockingbirds and Catbirds, seem to know a juvenile hawk from a more experienced mature one and take advantage of the information.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert

The juvenile takes to eating again. On this pass over it looks almost as if the Mockingbird is checking out what the hawk is eating--just in case.

Next--A contribution from Thunder, an Ontario observer, to the discussion surrounding,
Is Samantha Raven Actually Killing Pigeons?
I'm in northern Ontario. Well, last Friday, October 23rd, I witnessed a raven kill a pigeon. I work in a building, and as I was leaving for my lunch, a pigeon was feasting on little bits on the ground. A raven about 2 1/2 feet tall dive bombed directly into that pigeon and drove its beak clean into it. Poor little fellow never saw it coming. The Raven then decided to eat it, freaking out kids passing by.

Hi Thunder,

Thank you for sending in your observation. The plot thickens.

I’ve got some questions I was hoping you could help me with. You very well may not know many of the details I’m asking after as I realize you were attempting to get some lunch yourself, but any details you remember would be great.

Did you happen to see where exactly on the pigeon the predators beak entered for the kill strike?

Was it a clean kill, as in the pigeon died immediately or close to it?

Was the pigeon foraging on a sidewalk?

How busy was the area when the strike was made when it comes to people and or vehicles?

Did you see the Raven leave? Was she finished eating or did she flush off due to a disturbance and if so, did she take the pigeon with her?

Thank you!

Donegal Browne

RED-TAILED HAWK UPDATE: Tulsa Hawks-Kay and Jay, Plus Hawk Hill and Citizen Science

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
An update on the Tulsa KJRH TV Hawks, Kay (left)and Jay (right) from Tulsa Hawkwatcher Cheryl Cavert --

Hi Donegal,
I recently read where you were asking about an update on the Tulsa hawks. I have been meaning to send some photos on to you all summer - but with your summer activities and blogger problems, and my summer activities and computer problems, time has gotten away from me.

I regularly see Kay and/or Jay perched on the KJRH nesting tower. Late in the summer evenings, they were often perched together on the goldenrod (sticks out to the east, just slightly below nest level). I've attached a couple of photos from an evening in August.

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
- the lighting is not very helpful picking up fine details - but the second photo shows how well balanced Jay is as he stretches - never even wobbled!

Photograph by Cheryl Cavert
Kay was perched on the goldenrod on October 16th on a beautiful sunny afternoon - not something we have had much of lately in Tulsa. Later that evening, I spotted her on a lower perch on the tower, Jay flew by and she flew off after him. I saw Kay again this evening, sitting on a pole next to the KJRH hawk cam, helping the hawk cam watch the evening traffic.
I will send on additional updates of Kay and Jay's neighbors. I have had some delightful hawk encounters this summer - especially with some of the juveniles!

All my best -
Cheryl (aka catgirl of the Tulsa KJRH hawk forum)

It's grand to hear how Kay and Jay are doing. Thank you, Cheryl.


"GGRO and Citizen Science: Beautiful diary. I can imagine how much patience it took to get these amazing photos. By coincidence, I recently visited my daughter in San Francisco, and got to accompany her and her boyfriend Walter Kitundu hiking in the Marin Headlands and visiting Hawk Hill, where Walter volunteers as a bander.

The day we visited, the weather was perfect, and the view was spectacular, but the day before, Walter had spent a miserable day huddled in the blind in the fog without any birds. ( Walter's blog isBird Light Wind on Linaetus blogroll, and has Walter's bird photographs. )

GGRO is doing important work, tracking and documenting these beautiful birds, and educating the public about raptors. Here in Texas, since I retired as a public school science teacher, until I discovered citizen science, I missed the field studies I used to do with my students. Citizen science has provided a way to stay connected and make a contribution to science.

Project Feeder Watch last winter had us watching goldfinches. I also monitor rainfall with our backyard rain gauge for the Community Cooperative Rain and Hail Study, and get to see my data posted on the daily on-line map, and linked on the NOAA website.

I just discovered the National Phenology Network, which monitors seasonal changes in indicator plant species- one way to study the effects of climate change. I highly recommend these and other citizen science projects, especially for teachers who are looking for ways to get students involved in the exciting process of doing real science."

Donegal Browne

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Charlotte of Central Park and a Day of Red-tails--Well, probably.

Photograph by Christine Pittet
Gman of
left this comment--

"Check out this Red-Tailed Hawk on Central Park West " with the above link.

I clicked on his link and besides more photos of the Central Park West perched hawk, I found that an anonymous question had come into G man's blog asking if the hawk was Junior or Pale Male?

This hawk is a mature Red-tail, and in the right place but she's very dark and therefore neither Pale Male or Pale Male Jr. Those of you who have been following the doings of the Southern Central Park Hawks, will likely recognize Charlotte.

It's beginning to look like Charlotte may not be nearly as scarce as she often is after nesting season.

And I understand there is some video as well. Stay tuned.

And to the next Red-tail of the day--I was crunched into traffic speeding along just leaving Janesville, the nearest town of any size, when like a boulder out of the sky, a buteo came down hard on some prey, BAM, from a perch on a power line directly above the target and mantled it on the verge of the road. Whoa!

When I finally managed to pull off, and grab my camera I wasn't exactly close. And to add insult to injury, upon attempting to take the picture, I realized I'd left the battery for that particular machine charging on the kitchen counter. (Ever have days like this?) At this point I'd lost my chance for a shot on the verge and the hawk picked up whatever is was she had nabbed and took to her wings. It was heavy and she really had to power flap to get any altitude at all. Just before I turned to grab another camera I saw her even with the left edge of the poison ivy that's gone scarlet at the edge of the cornfield and just above it.

By the time I'd made the grab and turned back around, I'd no idea where she had gone. Not wanting to go too close, this is likely a rural hawk after all and not having binoculars or a scope with me, I just took photos of the trees in hope I could find her when I brought them up on the computer.

If you'd like to take a crack at it, double click on the photo above for a larger version.

Do you see her in the zoom? It took me awhile to decide that what I was looking at was actually a hawk. If you've not found her, quarter the photograph. She is in the upper left quadrant.

She's in this one as well.

Still eating. I can't decide what the prey is. A rabbit?

Also here.

And what is happening here? Are those feathery legs or the prey involved? At first I thought she might be a Rough-legged Hawk, but the breast seems much to light and this camera does insist on veering towards the blue end of things so her back is likely much more of a warm brown then it looks here. I decide Red-tail.
At this point, a pick up almost sideswipes my car, and as I don't even know if there is a hawk in the trees I'm photographing, I decide the better part of valor is to move the car.

My, my...

Well, what have we here? Remember I'd been saying I hadn't seen the Ms for ages? (The Ms being the Red-tailed Hawk pair who nested in the oak in the middle of a field on County Rd. M that we followed on the blog this nesting season.)
Earlier in the day while attempting not to be late for an appointment, I'd spotted a hawk sitting in a bare tree in the treeline adjacent to the field in which the Ms nested. And I noted with interest that even though there were other cars on the road, the RT looked at my car, followed it with her head and then when I passed by actually turned on the branch to continue watching me. Did the hawk recognize the car from earlier in the year?
And now here was a back lit Red-tail also adjacent to the same field, but now on a different tree.

There she is in the top of the tree. Mark her.
This is the actual distance and therefore I couldn't make a positive identification. Note the small tree in the foreground at the side of the road. Go left. See the space without tall trees on the far side of the field? The hawk is in the top of the first tree on the left of the space. I'm also at a slightly different angle than I had been for the previous photographs so take that into account.
Tomorrow I'll check it out again.
Donegal Browne

The Wild Turkeys Take a Drink and Mr. Indepence Goes His Own Way

Though the Cranes have definitely left, the Wild Turkeys are going to be around the area for the duration of winter. The grain field is still attracting them as you can see. And as usual when I stop they don't high tail it out anymore but they do start a mini-migration for the woods.

But things aren't dire enough that a pause isn't made for a drink of water from the rut puddles in the dirt road.

At least for most of them anyway. Look carefully to the left just this side of the tree trunk and you'll see a small hen or poult heading for the woods no matter what the others have decided to do.

Those who are taking their time particularly are the large Toms. They're big guys with definite beards. Beards not being on their "chins" as even if they had chins their heads are naked, but rather the long feathers mid-breast.

Soon everyone is heading north towards the woods except one guy. Who seems to have decided the proper direction is east towards the woods. Is this a sign of independence?

And even as the last of the others head east, Mr. Independence is still going north. I guess he's sick of following whoever is leading.

I'm told by those who've watched turkeys for many years that the hierarchy of the flock is rather strict and the secondary Toms don't really like being secondary all that much.

I mean, who wants to be bossed around ALL the time, right?

So if something untoward, like a turkey hunter, takes out the head turkey it isn't unusual at all for a secondary Tom to run back and hop up and down on the corpse of the former leader.

Something to think about when one catches oneself being bossy, isn't it?

Donegal Browne

P.S. And there has likely been another sighting of Charlotte, mate of Pale Male Jr., of the southern Central Park territory, perched on an overlooking building. More on that in the next post.