Saturday, April 17, 2010

An Afternoon with the Divines-Isolde and Norman plus the Starling, the Robin and the Scrum of Sparrows

Find the Red-tailed Hawk.

When I arrived at the Cathedral, Mitch Nusbaum was staring at something with his binoculars. It took me a few minutes but I found the hawk--possibly Isolde, as there had just been a switch and then later another, then hours looking at a tail peeking through the twigs.

There's the hawk.


Find St. Andrew and the nest.

Looking carefully where St. Andrew's finger is pointing. A dark spot that may be a wing tip.

See it?

See it now? We watched it and watched it and then some folks dropped by for a look through the scope. There was a shuffle, likely a switch but I missed it with the camera or the scope. Then I heard the sound of sparrows fighting, looked up and there in the twigs was a female surrounded by a scrum of male sparrows. The courting ritual of House Sparrows is one big free for all with the males vying with each other and getting so excited they mob the female.
This female fled under a car loosing most of her pursuers but not all.

She's fighting back.

Still surrounded.

Then she gets her back to a tire and gives them what for.

Now she's got the crowd down to two.

Oops here come some more.

She attacks and all but two, who are busy displaying take off.

Stand off.

A car goes by.

The male turns tail.

She runs one out the front.

She's run them both out and then they stand looking at her--she is obviously not in a receptive mood.

Back to St. Andrew.

Ahhh, we've switched a possible wing tip for the definite tip of a tail.

Which stays in relatively the same position for quite a while.

I look across the street, both a Starling and a Robin have something to eat.

Starling finishes his and stares a Robin eating.

Starling then runs over and pecks at Robin with that long sharp yellow beak.

Starling then steals Robin's food and eats it.

Tail is still there in pretty much the same spot.

Then tail shifts.

And begins going quickly up and down. It could be feeding behavior or it could be the adult hawk working back and forth attempting to shove a twig further into the nest.
Still moving! ???
And then nothing. No tail feathers. No wing tip. The wind is blowing and it's getting awfully nippy. The street lights come on and with that note, I head for the subway.
Donegal Browne

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