Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pale Male, Neck Banded Geese Plus Will Red-tailed Hawks Grab My Dog? & John Blakeman on Do Red-tails Double Kill Prey?

A little recap here. This is the young Red-tailed Hawk, videoed by Pat Gonzalez at the NYBG, who first appeared with one squirrel carcass, dropped it, killed another squirrel and began to eat that one on the ground.

My thought was that the first squirrel was probably a left over. Something stashed which really didn't have much left on it and when the opportunity suddenly arose, our Brown-tail here went and nabbed something much more sustaining not to mention fresher. But I wasn't completely sure that Red-tails absolutely never killed more than one squirrel at a time. I'd never seen it but I thought I'd better send hawk expert John Blakeman an email just to make sure young Red-tails given opportunity, don't get carried away in the heat of the moment at times.

I mean I have seen young birds "kill" two rocks or sticks in a row, but then again, they aren't eating those.

And here is what Mr. Blakeman had to say on the matter--


The first, abandoned carcass must have been an old, rotten cached one. This red-tail, probably a tiercel, would NEVER have abandoned a good piece of meat, even if a prey animal would have trotted by. The first was not a fresh kill, by any means.

Nice video. A larger formel, most likely, would have carried the squirrel up into a tree to eat it. This smaller tiercel didn't want to expend the effort to do that, feeling safe on the hillside. Notice how often it pulls its head up and looks around.
--John Blakeman

Thank you John. Red-tails don't have to be lumped in with raccoons in a hen house after all.

Also thank you for pointing out that a tiercel has more reason to remain on the ground with something the size of a squirrel than a formel does.

Come to think of it, Lola always eats her squirrels up in trees and the only time I've seen Pale Male carrying one around he'd removed the head and flew up to 927 to give it to Lola as a courting present.

By the way, do you know of any confirmed instance of a Red-tailed Hawk actually grabbing a dog and carrying it away. This is always a story that the raptor uneducated seem to love to repeat with a dramatic shiver, but I've never found an instance where the story turned out to be true, in anyway.

A big Red-tailed female doesn't weigh much above 5 pounds usually, correct?

I've read that a Red-tail doesn't carry anything even for a short distance that is over a third of her weight therefore said dog would have to weigh less than 2 pounds. In fact more like a pound, for a hawk to grab dog, lead dangling, (Would you let go of your dogs leash? I wouldn't.) and flap rapidly away with it as the stories are often told.

I just can't see it happening. Weaned puppies are well above a pound. And if Pale Male and Company are any example, Red-tails stay as far away from dogs as possible. Urban Red-tails swoop past humans quite closely now and again in Central Park, but I've never seen any of them come anywhere near a dog. They are very wary of them.

Photograph by Pat Gonzalez
Also from Pat Gonzalez, our observer at the New York Botanical Gardens--
Attached is photo taken by me yesterday at the NYBG. These geese were banded on their necks and leg with rather uncomfortable looking yellow plastic...thingees. Any ideas?


Colored tags are usually for keeping track of birds that are being followed for a specific study that involves different color tagged groups of, in this case, geese. I'd be very interested in knowing what the study is and who came up with these neck tags.
Usually a colored leg band is all that is used. I suspect that these have neck bands because geese spend so much time in the water. This way the observer doesn't have to "waste time" waiting for the goose to step onto land.

I have to say, I'm not fond of them.


Photo courtesy of Balcony Releasing
The Legend of Pale Male opens in a limited run in theatres on Nov. 24th.
Check out the link below for a clip of the beginning of the movie--


And another link with two different clips--

Donna Browne

No comments: