Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are There Three Eyasses at The Cathedral? Fordham is Active! The HawkCam is Back in Business!

I'd checked all the possible angles of the nest and couldn't seem to see a thing when it came to actually seeing Isolde. So I stood there waiting for something to happen.

Wait one second, from the ground it looked as if there might be a tail tip up there or was it...?

Yes, it is Isolde peering through the twigs. I decided to go further up the street which is further up an incline in hopes of seeing her actual head.

At first nothing and then there she was peering at me from the west side.

Then she watched me watch her head for awhile. Perhaps as it was me, Rob, and Winkie, all longtime watchers of this nest she didn't have a total need to completely hunker down out of sight. We'd pretty much decided that as sunset wasn't all that far off that perhaps that was it for the evening.

Then Isolde decided to stand up.

And it looked like she was watching her eyasses.

She'd stare at one spot.

And then stare at another.

And then stare north, looking for Norman perhaps? Or maybe hoping to be seen by Norman so he'd know that she and the family were up and about.

More staring.

Isolde is a very pretty Red-tail.

Back to eyass watching.

Then scoping north. According to Winkie, Norman hangs out up near 120th St. and the reason he isn't around the Cathedral is because he has increased he and Isolde's territory by a good number of blocks. I had noticed that there didn't seem to be the problems with Crows, and Kestrels, and Peregrines that seemed a several times weekly combat problem in some years past.
Well I'd been missing having a tiercel who stayed close and helped with the kids like Tristan did , but different birds have different styles and Stormin' Norman seems to be strong in the land acquisition and protection end of the game so I can't complain.

If you look closely at the spots that Isolde is looking at she does seem to be looking into the bowl at something in more than two spots and I know that eyasses this young aren't up off their haunches yet and toddling about. Of course she could be thinking a twig needs some work in a certain spot as well. One never knows.

Isolde once again looks north, where Norman purportedly tends to be doing sentry duty. And if she can see him, he can see her.

Then suddenly Isolde decides to keep a low profile again.

Time to go to sleep? We'd looked at the time and sunset was only a few minutes away. Well, guess that, is likely it. Drat, I wanted to see a switch, when...

...there was a swirl of feathered bodies up there. A SWITCH so fast it was virtually unseeable. I did see Isolde with limp prey in her beak swinging round and then there she was placing the prey and Norman was GONE.

She works on the likely rat for a few moments.

She leans down into the bowl with a crooked tail for balance.

Then she leans down even further. She feeds.

Surveys the area.

Looks into the bowl.

Switches to the other rim and feeds there for awhile.

More looking.

And a slightly different position for awhile and then she disappears into the nest.
This is how the world actually looked by the time she disappeared. I'd had the exposure assist jacked up for some time already for the nest photos. Since I've been back I have seen no pigeons in the immediate vicinity of the nest, though I'm sure there must be some in the larger area but perhaps wily or not particularly handy so maybe this season rats may the mainstay of this nest. We'll see.

I got back to work a bit over a week ago (for those who hadn't heard, I suffered a fractured ankle on 12/31/09), and didn't have much time to check the nest until this week. Yesterday and today, I saw an adult Red-Tail on the Collins Hall nest. It was a male yesterday--presumably Vince, whose acquaintance I've had no chance to make--it clearly wasn't Rose. He looked quite a bit like Hawkeye, I thought from the brief glimpse I got when he flew off.

Today, I watched the nest for about half an hour, while I ate my lunch. It wasn't possible to tell there was a bird there, from my vantage point on the ground, until he or she got up and seemed to turn the eggs.

As I've noted in past years regarding this nest, there's no reason to question whether the eggs are going to hatch before late April/early May. The Fordham hawks don't follow the same exact schedule as all other NYC Red-tails. The first year Hawkeye and Rose nested at Fordham (at a different location on campus), I didn't see young until May 9th--and I was able to view that nest at nearly eye level. Since I was away from Fordham during the first few months of breeding activity this year, I can't say if incubation started at the usual time, but I'd tend to assume it did, since Rose would be the one setting the schedule, and she's nothing if not reliable.

Speculations about Vince's virility are premature, to say the very least, and will be for at least a few more weeks. There are long periods of inactivity on the nest, where the incubating adult is simply invisible from the ground, and young hawks are very hard to see until they're strong enough to move around.

There are very few people observing this nest, for very limited periods of time, and quite a lot is missed as a result. I just looked at a report I made about the Collins Hall nest back in 2006, where I made pretty much identical observations as I did today--on April 22nd--and of course there were young that year, as there have been every single year Rose has laid eggs--in four different nests over six consecutive breeding seasons--I doubt any other nesting female in the area has a more spotless record in this regard. Her new mate is unproven as a breeder, and it was a very hard winter. But the nest platform on Collins is substantially unchanged from three previous successful seasons. Everything up to this point seems to be proceeding as it has in the past.

All we can say for sure is that there are eggs, the adults are tending to them, and they probably haven't hatched yet. The rest remains to be seen.

Chris Lyons
I have wonderful news to report. I've been fortunate to have successfully collaborated and implemented the relocation of the Queens, N.Y. Hawkcam (webcam) live video to observe the active 2010 Red-tailed Hawk nest of Mama and Papa. They have three eyasses in the nest that are now about ten days of age. Please watch as Mama and Papa raise their family for the next six plus weeks until the eyasses fledge their nest. The Hawkcam will be active 24 hours a day and can also be viewed after dark. We have a finite amount of concurrent connections to the Hawkcam, so please be patient if at first you don't connect due to a high volume of viewers. There is a session timer on the Hawkcam so everyone can have a fair chance of viewing the nest. If your session times out a browser refresh will start another video connection. You can view the Hawkcam live video at www.JKNatureGallery.com just click on the Hawkcam link. Please also take a few minutes to check out our New Offerings for 2010.

Please spread the word regarding the Hawkcam and our New Offerings for 2010 to other like-minded friends, family and colleagues. In 2007, the Hawkcam funded by NYC Audubon made its debut allowing us to observe Mama and Papa raise their two eyasses for eight weeks. We can once again enjoy this experience this season.

All the best, Jeff
Nature Watcher Jim Blank reports that he observed one of the Ms perched in the top of last years nest tree.
Donegal Browne

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