Monday, February 22, 2010

Updates Galore: Fordham's Rose, NYBG Great Horned Owls, the Ms, their RTH Neighbors, Blakeman on People Feeding Eagles,and Trampoline Jumping Eaglets

In regards to yesterday's video of the people who fed and attracted an aggregate of Eagles--


The video of the clustered eagles on the ground, being fed fish, was pretty stunning.

But it’s not really so out of character for bald eagles, once they learn that humans have available food for them.

Interestingly, a similar thing was seen back in the late 19th century here on Sandusky Bay, on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Lake Erie is the shallowest and most productive of all the Great Lakes, with hundreds of tons of fish harvested each year both for sport and commercial sales.

In recent years, most of the Ohio Lake Erie fish catch has been for sport fishers. There is still a large commercial fishery across the lake in Ontario waters.

But at the turn of the last century, Sandusky, Ohio was the largest fish processing center on the entire Great Lakes. Fish offal from the processing was often simply dumped back into the lake or bay, attracting large flocks of bald eagles as seen in the video.

Like red-tailed hawks, bald eagles can quickly and easily adapt to human structures and presence when food is available. The older presumption that they won’t abide human activities anywhere near their nests or roosts has been proven inaccurate time and again.

Just this year, a local pair of eagles abandoned their nest near Sandusky Bay and built one in a tall tree in the front yard of a suburban neighborhood. These people will be mowing the lawn under the nest, drive their cars into the garage beneath, and otherwise conduct life as normal. The eagles above are most likely to merely watch all of this and pay no attention.

What’s the likelihood of this? Well, several years ago the same pair nested in a nearby backyard. Their three eaglets hoped out of the nest and dropped down unto a backyard trampoline where they jumped up and down with the same delight as a child, as the photo shows.

–John Blakeman

After weeks of hop flapping on a pile of twigs the trampoline must have been a true joy!

Photo by Richard Fleisher
And from longtime watcher of Rose and Hawkeye at Fordham, Richard Fleisher has an update on the New York Botanical Garden Great Horned Owls, Rose, a newly named feathered Vince Lombardi--


Finally got to the Gardens on a nice sunny winter day and was treated with some shots of the female Great Horned sitting pretty high up in the hole of the snag.
(A change to a higher sitting position by a female on the nest can be a clue that there has been a hatch. D.B.)

Photo by Richard Fleisher
Follow-up to Debbie Beckers post on the Plant Talk blog, I saw a Red tail sitting in a tree on the Forest Trail not far from the GHO nest. I do think there was one mistake in Debbie's post, the second Red Tail she reports seeing around the Owl nest was in all likelihood not one of last years brood but rather Rose's new mate.

Photo by Richard Fleisher
I also continue to see both Red Tails very busy fortifying the old nest on campus and roosting close to one another in trees near the nest site. I do not have a good sense of her new mate but I hope to take many photos of him once she starts sitting on the nest.
Photo by Richard Fleisher
No name as of yet for Rose's new partner but given that Hawkeye was named after a Fordham alum my inclination is to call him Vince after another famous alum Vince Lombardi.

Finally, I was also able to get this shot of what I believe is a Red-bellied woodpecker (my id could be wrong) that was also taken at NYBG.


Richard Fleisher
Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
Political Science Department

Hi Rich,

I'm with you. I too believe that the immature is likely Rose's new mate. Interesting that both she and Isolde went for young tiercels. I wonder if that is common practice with formels holding territory on their own?

And I'll go with Vince for the name of the new guy in town, after all I'm currently in Vince Lombardi territory here in Wisconsin. I had no idea he came out of Fordham.

It's good to hear that Rose and Vince are roosting near the Fordham nest. From my experience with other urban hawk pairs, it sways the odds to that nest site as opposed to the one in the NYBG.

There of course is no way to tell where the poisoned rat that killed Hawkeye came from, but as he had avoided being poisoned for years previously while he and Rose were more often frequenting Fordham, and before the second generation poisons as well which is a wild card, somehow I felt it safer for more hunting to be done at Fordham.

Would it be possible to approach the folks at Fordham and ask, that if they must use rat poison, that they do not use the new second generation type that is especially lethal to the hawks and perhaps even use one of the rat poisons, considered more avian friendly especially during nesting and fledging season? For some years, there was special consideration given in that matter in Pale Male and Lola's territory in Central Park during breeding season particularly as fledglings, as you know, would be less likely to be cognizant of the signs of a poisoned rat and avoid them.

Many thanks for the update Rich! Great shots of the GHO, and that looks like a Red-belly to me too--a female.


Kim Gilmour, the first new hawkwatcher to follow the doings of the Red-tailed Hawk Pair on Cty M in Rock County Wisconsin has an update--

Hi Donna:

On my home today I was scanning the side of the road as I usually do and saw a pair of hawks perched on the top of the billboard on Cty M near the I90 overpass. I was wondering to myself if these were "my" hawks who nested last year across from my land. I slowed down when I got near the nest and saw another pair of hawks perched by last years nest. I can only hope they will again use the nest. I am going to start to carry my binoculars and spotting scope so I can keep track of activity. I am hoping to find where the pair nest that were perched on the billboard, am I correct in assuming that they should be nesting somewhere close to that? I also see you have pictures of the wooded ravine off Ivanhoe Dr. in Milton. That is directly across from my side of the subdivision, is there nesting or something there I would want to keep track of as well?

When will I begin the see nesting activity if the pair are going to be using the nest? Thanks for all your information and I look forward to seeing you at the nesting site this year.


Hi Kim,

Thank you for the update, it is very interesting. As to the pair of RTHs on the billboard, it is interesting that they were there together. How close together were they perched?

Ordinarily if there was one hawk on the sign, I’d think that the hawk was hunting but as they were both there, and if they were perched a few feet apart I might wonder if they had just copulated. Their nest might be close by or it might be anywhere within their territory which we are presuming until we know more, the unofficial standard of about 2 square miles..

How far away would you say the overpass is from “your” hawks nest tree? Now is the time when the bonded pairs will be firming up the boundaries of their domains which during the off season can be somewhat fluid. The hawks on the billboard may have been doing something that dealt with boundary issues as well.

As to the original Ms in their previous nest tree, that suggests to me that they are working on that nest site but it does not preclude their working on another site in another spot as well.

What exactly is happening in the Ivanhoe Ravine is a very good question. I do know that the Red-tailed hawk that was sitting on the power pole across from your shop, likely the formel of the pair we watched last season, flew from the pole directly toward the trees in the ravine and disappeared. This makes me think that if indeed that hawk was Mrs. M, that the ravine area is part of the Ms territory.

Any and all hawk activities could be occurring there. They might be building a second nest, she may just have been hunting, or she might have become annoyed with my presence and knew she’d lose me if she flew to the woods in the ravine, it could be just about anything as I didn’t find her once I got there, but the entire area certainly bears watching.

Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Karen Anne said...

I'm wondering about all this stuff about putting rat poison out.

Is there something intrinsic about living in the city that means there are rats? I know when Lincoln had photos of poison set out in the parks, he also had photos of a tremendous amount of garbage also there.

Is it not possible to reduce the rat population by better trash control? I imagine if I or my neighbors left bags of overflowing trash out, there would be rats in our neighborhood too.

Perhaps there are trash containers in places like campus that could have better designed lids? Or something?