Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bobby Horvath Does Long Island RT Nests and College Students Do Secret Triage Rehabbing

All Allen Park Photos by Bobby Horvath

See it?
From great wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath--
This park is only 1 mile from our house. I never had the reason to visit until Sadie was old enough to take advantage of the kids playground there. To my surprise the baseball field home to the champion Falcons is also home, they now know, to a successful redtailed hawk family right above their heads.
The nest is on top of the stadium light right next to the dugout entrance. Talk about no privacy.. There are 2 baseball fields and many busy soccer fields which accommodate hundreds of kids everyday and night right under the nest. They have 2 hatchlings I could see.

No place for young to go though once they start exploring so I'm sure we'll be getting a call . I would bet at least one or even both are releases of ours.

In addition there are two more successful nests along the parkway to our house barely three and five miles away along the same stretch of parkway.
The parkway young, as dangerous as it appears, never seem to get into trouble from our experience.
One of the parkway nests is actually on the front lawn of a private house, about 75 feet high right next to the parkway.

From the road it appears right in the trees adjacent to the parkway. I'll have to work on pictures of those but they both are heavily leafed out already.

I have to say one of the real conveniences for hawkwatchers who observe hawks who nest on man made structures such as buildings, bridges and light poles is that they never leaf out. Though I'd had to deal with the leafed tree issue interfering while attempting to see where the hawk parents were going in the city, it was rather a rude shock when I got to Wisconsin and began to watch tree nests that just when things were getting very interesting those pesky leaves went and got right in the way.
Bobby, I'm betting you're right that one or both of the parents were city bred Red-tails that came from your releases. These birds have to be super human habituated to put up with the mayhem in Allen Park. But being human habituated gives them a definite leg up in the hunting department. Think of all the refuse created by the hundreds of people who frequent the area. The rodent hunting prospects must be awesome.
I find it fascinating that the Parkway young don't run into car trouble. I've seen hawk parents teach their fledglings all sorts of different things and I'm wondering if in this case, car wariness is one of the things that are imparted to these youngsters. It may seem far fetched but remember Central Park hawkwatcher Ben Cacace's adage, "Never underestimate a Red-tail."
This is my daughter Samantha, and a nestling Starling. Sam is rapidly becoming the Bird Girl of Drew University. In some cases, like that of this nestling, he found her but word has gotten round in the last couple of weeks and people are beginning to call when they're faced with orphans. Then Sam calls me. Not that she's inexperienced in raising baby birds, nor that I'm an expert by any means, oh no. But we have raised many orphaned birds in our Midtown Manhattan neighborhood but in our neighborhood, the orphaned babies are baby pigeons. A completely different kettle of fish than the birds Sam comes across at Drew.
Plus in the case of wee Starling here, I'd left the house for the day and left my phone at home accidentally.
And of course Sam has roped her friends into helping in the underground triage rehabbing business. It's no easy thing to take care of their charges even for the 24 hours it often takes to find a car to take them to the Raptor Trust, the nearest rehab facility.
First off the only creatures Drew students are allowed to have in their dorm rooms are non-carnivorous fish. Obviously these are not non-carnivorous fish. Why non-carnivorous? No one seems to know. Seems to me actually that most fish food is made up of animal matter...but whatever-- onward.
Second, all the tweeting, begging sounds, and calls to a mom who no longer exists can get you busted.
Third, Drew is a secluded wooded campus with a student store with the usual fare. Feeding baby animals on Doritos and root beer just won't do. And the nearest small town's stores roll up the sidewalks early, well except the restaurants and feeding baby birds Chinese take out or pizza won't do either so the underground triage rehabbers have to get creative.
Because up until the current baby bird season they had no idea they'd be in business and so heat lamps and various forms of baby bird food just weren't hanging around in their closets.
No heat lamps nor heating pads? They now start their computer on a defragging program that really heats up the machine which in turn is then used to heat the box with the baby in it.
But what to feed such a young Starling? Somewhere they came up with a jar of human baby food, made out of turkey. Not a recommendation, you understand, but it did keep Starling alive until they could get him to The Raptor Trust.
Then a day or so later came the call about the three little ducklings running madly around the parking lot quacking their brains out looking for their mother. So off Super Secret Triage College Rehabbers went to save the ducklings.
Turns out saving ducklings in a parking lot is no easy task.
If you've ever chased a duckling you'll know they're like greased lightning, plus there are all those vehicles to run under and beat a hasty retreat while the human has to go around that big SUV. Add people driving up and down the lanes parking their cars and you get the picture.
Basically it came down to either cornering the little buggers or chasing them until they gave up. Also not recommended. But in the end the humans won and the ducklings were nabbed.
This is Frank...
and Storm, Sam's cohorts in crime. And there is also Miguel, not pictured. He's the one who came up with using the hot computer for a heat source.
Okay ducklings are now nabbed but they are making a tremendous amount of noise and heavens there isn't any duck chow, not even plain old bird seed. They can't put up a barrier outside and allow them to forage. These have to be secret ducks.
That's when Sam, a NYC child born and bred asks herself, "Why can't they eat what the ducks in Central Park eat?"
And what do the ducks eat in Central Park? Wet bread.
About then my phone rings. "Mom, two of the ducklings are in shock, They're laying there like they're dead."
Shock in birds? Warmth, quiet dim seclusion, and ? I'd read once that in a total pinch, if the bird could swallow, a little trickle of sugar water could help. Sam says yes, she has some sugar. I say, Just don't get it down their wind pipes. Sam having fed many a baby pigeon baby bird formula and not asphyxiated anybody I figure she is up to it.

So they're warm, they've had a little sugar water but forget dim seclusion. Duckling One wants OUT of the box and keeps leaping around, quacking like a mad thing trying to get out, and landing on his shocked out nest mates.
Okay Duckling One is taken out of the box. Duckling One runs around the room and his call changes. This as it turns out alerts his two prone siblings that he's getting away so they decide to wake up and want out of the box too.
Wet bread anyone? Maybe if they'll eat they won't make so much noise, the hall RA won't show up, and take everyone to task for these strange looking non-carnivorous fish that are running amuck around the room.
Okay, they eat a little. More running and quacking. Okay guys how about a little swim to take your minds off your troubles?
Sam mentions how remarkably floatable they are. Yes, indeed. They're DUCKS, Sam.
Keep in mind she's got a horrendous case of Shingles, has just run down ducklings when she should have been in bed and is on painkillers for what she says feel like 500 red hot needles shoved into and pulled out of her skin repeatedly. I could cut her a little slack right?

Okay guys, somebody is going to get hurt, how about we just calm down a little, shall we?
And they then cuddle together with a nice warm leg...and are finally quiet.
Happy ending, they eventually go quietly into their nice warm box and next day they are safely put into the hands of the Raptor Trust. Whew.
(By the way, what they are doing may not make the dorm RA happy but it is perfectly legal within the law of the land. According to federal law, any citizen may rescue a wild animal who is in danger. They just must get said animal to a licensed rehabber or vet within 48 hours.)
If you remember, Jeff Kollbrunner asked any viewers of the NYC HawkCam that may have seen anything unusual in the eyasses behavior that later died to send in their observations. One of the Cathedral Hawkwatchers and contributor to the blog, Winkie, was watching on Monday until about 5PM and here are her observations--
I was looking at mama's nest quite a bit Monday. The rain was just horrible. Around 10 am she was drenched and the babies looked really bad. She left the nest quite frequently during the day, probably to dry out. The last time I checked in was around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. A couple of times during the day she seemed to holding her wings out to protect the babies. I do think one of the babies looked really weak, especially later in the day. It seemed to have a hard time holding up its head. Do you think that maybe the rain left the one too weak and chilled?
Hypothermia is certainly possible. I sent Winkie's info off to the Horvaths and Jeff, to be pieced together with whatever other information they've received.

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