Saturday, April 10, 2010

Red-tailed Hawks vs Turkey Vultures and Mr. Robin has Twig Envy

I was foraging twigs for "my nest" when I started hearing a Red-tail screaming--repeatedly. I looked and looked and all I could see was a Turkey Vulture making lazy circles above a tall tree.

And then out of the east came a Red-tailed Hawk with a mission.

This is one of the Steams who's territory includes Thresherman's Park.

I love this moment. Previously Steam had been keeping a tight visual bead on the vulture, but it appears that he is looking at the ground as well. A way to help maintain geographical bearings?

Then back to Vulture management business.

He's quite high. Part of the herding of other birds out of the territory, when alone, is to herd from above. Though one would have thought from all the screaming that there might have been contact but so far none.

Angling down slightly.

Finding a current...

and riding it.

But by the time he gets to where the vulture was circling, V has moved off.


and toward the west treeline.

Flapping. Wait, he crosses past the treeline and disappears. ???

Vulture is heading west.





Steam seems to have gone for reinforcements as Mrs. Steam is now also on the job.

Vulture decides to fly southeast.
(That white patch is interesting as Black Vultures have a pale patch at the tip of each wing. but it's the wrong shape so perhaps glare?)

And THERE is suddenly another vulture. Let me say, I did my best but I just couldn't keep total track of what all four birds were doing at any given time. Like where did the second vulture come from. V reinforcements?

One vulture heads further east. Tailed by one Red-tail. Maybe Steam saw the other vulture coming and that is why he headed off for the Mrs abruptly?

Now it's two vultures to one Red-tail.

Having chased one vulture to the east, I think, an RTH reappears and goes after the next one.

Some screaming ensues. Hawk isn't amused at all by these guys and wants them GONE!

And then they are gone into the trees and POOF! Everybody has disappeared.

(Yes, this Robin looks like a male Robin in the photo and he looked like a male Robin when I looked at him, having them match that way is rather reassuring after the Robin with the Twig issue.)
After having gotten the previous twigs mentioned, I came home to unload them, as I was unloading the twigs I note that a Robin is just standing there watching me. We all know that Robins keep themselves pretty busy this time of year, and don't normally just stare at you.

Still there, I continue putting twigs into the wheelbarrow. Then it comes to me. He's window shopping--looking at my twig inventory.

And likely an unscrupulous Robin thinking of nipping some of my twigs. Okay, okay, I know.

I have hands with opposable thumbs. I can cart my twigs around in a truck and a wheelbarrow and what does he have? Well, wings for one thing but... it's okay, I'll share.

I load up the wheelbarrow and trundle off to the back yard.

Guess who has moved to a better twig debris viewing area? Well actually being different sizes, I admit, for the most part he and I are usually interested in different sized twigs.

I fill up my last load and head again to the back yard.

Still there. Poor guy, feel bad for him so I go in the house. Unfortunately I can't see what he's doing from any of the windows and I don't want to disturb him. I made him wait long enough.

Then later, I look out the back door and who should I see in the feeding area? Mr. Robin again. And it's weird because in all this time I've never had a Robin on the concrete like this. There aren't any worms there after all. But Robin is pecking at something. He's pecking at bread! Robins don't eat bread. They eat worms, bugs, cherries, and apples. Eatables like that. Bread? Bread is for sparrows and pigeons. Birds with humans in their evolutionary history.

Keeping any eye on me as well. He's definitely pecking at bread. Could that be the left over piece of buttered toast? That might seem more attractive. I've decided I don't trust him. He's just doing this to get publicity. Maybe Robins often do this but not in regions where I see them?

There! See. There is actually a crumb in his beak. Okay, that isn't any proof.
Then how about this? Didn't believe me did you?
Seriously, I do go out later and check to make sure that there isn't some kind of tasty insect that has infested the bread and I've been mislead. Nope just old hard dry bread. Tis a mystery.
Donegal Browne

Friday, April 09, 2010

My Nest and Mrs Robin Wants the Right Twig Part 1

Building a nest is a huge job. Of course my nest which will actually be bower is far bigger than something that I would just sit in the middle of and incubate eggs.

Some obvious things that took me awhile to figure out. It's obvious that this nest is on the ground instead of in the air somewhere therefore there isn't a twig bottom. And if there isn't a twig bottom woven into the sides the sides become pretty fragile. No I'm not putting a twig bottom on it as it's going to take bijillion twigs just to do the sides but it occurred to me that I could use the ground to anchor the sides.

It's been incredibly rainy, sleety, wet so the ground is somewhat soft until you get close to the maple where there are so many roots in the ground that ground anchoring just can't happen. Pushing long twigs into the ground works out pretty well at this point

I was reconnoitering the area for twigs and saw that one of the neighbors had pruned their pussy willow suckers. Long wands of pussy willow, hmmm. And pussy willows like others of the willow family will sometimes take root from a twig in the ground. If you look carefully you will see pussy willow uprights that will be woven into the horizontals as I go along.

And yes, I did put in a gate. I can't fly. Sigh.

From Robin of Illinois, it's going to be raining urban ducklings again. Mama is back on the Sterling Bank!

And here is the beginning of Mrs. Robin and her twigs.

IT'S THE MOTHER LODE OF TWIGS. I abscond with twigs using this '77 pickup. And when I unloaded some did escape my wheel barrow and Mrs. Robin now has twig envy herself.

If you looked at yesterday's post, did you notice what is going on in photo 12. This was actually the answer I was looking for and part of why I photographed her. I wanted to know if Robins only manipulated the twigs with their beaks or whether there was foot action as well.
Okay read this and then go check out photo 12. Mrs. Robin is holding the troublesome twig, stock still with her foot, while gripping another portion of the twig with her beak and whipping her head back and forth. Feet are definitely involved.