Saturday, May 15, 2010

Red-tail Updates: Mama Emerald Menaces Me Plus Rose and Vince Do Lunch for the Kids

This is Mama Emerald. Mama Emerald does not like me. No she does not. Not one little bit. Though I am a good distance from her nest she has taken severe umbrage to my presence and has taken to kiting just a short distance from me then seeming to come down towards me, still not in a true swoop, until I wonder when I should throw myself to the ground, though she is no longer screaming which seems like a very good thing.

Then she swings round me. And I swing round with her. She isn't going to get behind my head. I'm keeping my eye on her.

And does the whole kiting business all over again. Menace, true and simple but not currently livid anger. I mean who needs a hot hawk over their head, right?

Eventually it is kind of a stand off and as I'm not stepping one step closer to the nest, the line in the sand is extremely clear to me...

She does another couple of pass rounds.

And then heads way way over to that far copse of trees.

Now why is it that the Ms last season allowed me to stand much closer to their nest? Their nest was out in the countryside too. I have a theory.

Remember when I began to notice that if humans stayed on roads, on sidewalks, on places that humans normally travel, many birds would continue to go about their business even reasonably close to humans, as if the humans weren't there until on foot hit the ground out of those proscribed human travel areas? Then everyone would take off in a flash?

Well I think Mama Emerald's wrath may have something to do with that. The Emerald Grove nest is situated in a tree far off the road, on land that is absolutely plastered by No Trespassing signs and has been lying fallow for some time. Not only grasses surround their copse of mature trees that hold the nest oak but it is surrounded by bushes and saplings. The nearest plowed field is not at all close. Therefore I'm thinking the closest human who ever comes by is the farmer in the far field with his tractor---no human may have come near the nesting site during breeding season is years. Therefore I have intruded very far off the proscribed human pathway area though I am still much further away from the nest than I was when I observed the Ms. Which means that even with rural hawks the attack perimeter that surrounds a Red-tails nest is fluid depending on habituation. Which of course makes sense but sometimes nailing down reasons for behaviors that look like no brainers turn out to be motivated by something completely different than one had decided they were or just plain wired in.

(Pick up the thread of the Emerald Grove Hawk sequence in the next post down. Still having trouble with Blogger on that particular post by the way so it still isn't complete. Hence the above sequence out of sequence.)

Photo by Richard Fleisher
But in the meantime Richard Fleisher has a beautiful day to take photographs of gorgeous Rose and Vince.

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Here's the scoop from Rich--

New photos of our Rose, Vince and offspring have been posted on my flickr page. These were taken Thursday afternoon and showed the need for wildlife photographers to be extremely patient. After spending more than an hour watching Rose doing nothing but sunning herself on the nest I suddenly found myself with a wonderful photo opportunity. Vince showed up out of no where with the late afternoon meal in his talons.

Photo by Richard Fleisher.
He landed on the nest, dropped off dinner and stayed on the nest no more than five minutes when he took off as suddenly as he appeared.

Photo by Richard Fleisher
Rose picked up the meal and walked back and forth with the prey (I cannot tell if it is a young squirrel or a rat) in her mouth before settling down to rip up the catch and begin feeding it to the hungry youngsters.

If you look very very closely at the prey, the tail is furry it hasn't the nakedness of a rat's tail. I'm betting on young squirrel.

For more great shots of Rose and Vince check out Rich's Flickr page-

Donegal Browne


Chris said...

I'd say it's a chipmunk, not a young squirrel--they are common in Bronx Park, particularly in the Botanical Gardens, and ideal prey for Red-Tails--easy to catch, abundant, and unlikely to carry either exotic diseases like frounce, or toxins such as rat poison.

In Van Cortlandt Park, the nesting Red-Tails seemed to serve chipmunks to their young almost exclusively.

(I'm tempted to scream "ALVINNNN!!!" now, but I'll restrain myself).

Donegal Browne said...

I'm with you Chris there was something about the size, the orange color, the shape of the leg, plus the length of the tail and the fur on said tail that made it not a rat, but not exactly a young squirrel either.