Sunday, April 04, 2010

Atlas Works on the Nest, Horvath Rehab Report, WI Migration, And the Salinity of the East River

Photo by Peter Richter,
Atlas and his new mate

From Peter Richter--
Every cloud has a silver lining, so the saying goes, and a silver lining couldn't have come at a better time for Atlas of the Astoria park nest. By some minor miracle, within less than two days of the passing of his mate Athena, Atlas has found a new mate.

Hey Donna,

I was kind of thinking about the name Andromeda. It still relates to Greek mythology, and Athena awarded her a place in the constellations after her death. She and Perseus produced many fine offspring during their marriage and stayed faithful to one another. I'll run the name by Jules when I see her and see what she thinks as well. She may already have something in mind.

Peter also says though, that Atlas is the one doing most of the work on tne nest and the new girl in town looks youngish. She is very dark perhaps even darker that Charlotte. If these dark hawks are coming from a NYC urban nest, the parents would no doubt be dark as well, which means we haven't found them yet.

Here is the Horvaths non-raptor rehab report...okay there are some raptors in it but obviously this sweet little fox kit, isn't one of them.
From Bobby Horvath--
Here's today’s non raptor rescue. She is about 4 weeks old and was dumped in a bucket and left at a vets office. She has a fractured right femur and has no use of her other leg either. The x rays don't show any spinal damage so hopefully it’s just temporary and she’ll regain the use of both back legs. She’s scheduled for surgery Monday to pin the broken leg since its just wrapped right now for temporary stabilization.

2 weeks ago a fuzzy great horned owl came in that we had take since the monsoons were predicted and we couldn't leave him there. Once hes feathered better we have an idea where the nest is so we plan on putting him back in the area as long as the parents are still around which we suspect.
We also got in an adult redtailed hawk that has 2 broken wings probably after crashing into the overpass chasing pigeons on the Long Island Railroad station from where he was found. Hes doing better but won't be releasable from the extent of his injuries so well look for a home for him.

In the meantime during the last week I've been driving around the county side looking for some of Springtime's bounty of birds. On HWY 26 outside Fort Atkinson there is a marshy pond which attracts tree swallows. Being that these birds are bug eaters the insects must be making inroads already.

And from the Wildlife Area around Storr's lake, an extremely noisy and active altercation between a Black-capped Chickadee and a House Finch.

The Grackles have returned within the last week.

The Mourning Doves never left and the Red-winged Blackbirds have been back for about a month staking out every inch of usable territory.

I find it fascinating that none of the other birds ever pick on the Mourning Doves. There can be fisticuffs occuring during a battle of the bird bath between the Robins and the Grackles and the Dove calmly sits there and eventually gets her drink.
I've also seen doves sitting on a wire within six feet of a hunting Red-tailed Hawk and it is as if they don't even notice each other.

Could that tail be any cuter? Francois Portmann tells me this is a Pied-billed Grebe
The Geese and Ganders have all paired up and in some areas have even started to nest.

Coming in for a landing

And here a pair appear to be doing a bit from Chorus Line
And off they go giving us their tail feathers.
I've also seen Buffleheads, Loons, Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Scaubs, Ringnecks and others but as they invariably head for the other side of the water, and with the zephyr winds, they are nothing but blobs of color when you attempt to get their picture. Hopefully the wind will die down, the ducks will take a nap and stop padding like mad things and we'll get a better look at them.
Francois Portmann contributed a picture of Athena rising from her bath in the East River, which caused John Blakeman to speculate about salt residue on feathers which spurred Bill Walters to take it upon himself to check out the salinity of said body of water. And here are his findings--

Regarding the salinity of the “East River”: It is not a river at all. It’s a waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean (by way of New York Harbor) with Long Island Sound. It separates two islands: Manhattan Island and Long Island (home of the 2 largest boroughs of New York City… Brooklyn and Queens) and is an estuary, or to be technically accurate, a strait.

The Hudson River is an estuary also, but becomes an actual river just north of the George Washington Bridge. South of the bridge, the Hudson flows between the mainland (New Jersey) and an island (Manhattan) and then flows into New York Harbor. The East River is third highest in salinity (average 23ppt) in the New York area. It is lower than the Harbor (25ppt) and the Sound (28ppt), but higher than the Hudson (18-20ppt). The Hudson is fed by freshwater from upstate (if that can be called fresh) and mixes with the Harbor which in turn is fed by the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers in New Jersey.

The East River gets a little freshwater from those sources and from the Harlem River which connects with the Hudson. But mostly, the East River is fed by Long Island Sound (which itself gets a little freshwater from rivers in Connecticut and Long Island) and the Ocean. Confused? Take two aspirin and call us in the morning.

The picture of Athena bathing in the river was most likely taken up by her home on the Triborough Bridge (now called the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge). At that point, a little freshwater from the Harlem River may have made the water more attractive. At any rate, when you need a bath, you need a bath and that’s the only water around.

Bill Walters
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And from NYBG Pat Gonzalez--
I wanted to say how sorry I was about the death of Athena. Although I photograph lots of different wildlife, I have a special place in my heart for red-tails. It is always sad for me when one of these heavenly creatures passes on through poison or accident.


Donegal Browne

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