Saturday, May 01, 2010


Isolde isn't returning and so Norman give ste feeding thing a shot. And so far no one is squashed.

Where is Isolde anyway?

Isolde is on Gabriel. She flew north with her meal then made her surreptitious way south and got onto Gabriel from the back side of the Cathedral where Norman would not have seen her do it. She has been taking her well needed ease on Gab before going back to sleeping with the three wiggley eyasses.

8:05PM Isolde flies off Gab and takes herself back to the nest. She left the nest at 6:35PM and returned at 8:05 PM. She's going to be having Norman doing the last feeding of the day every day before he even knows what hit him. And she'll have her nice long evening break just the way she has always preferred.

So that's part of the way you train a young mate to your preferences.
Bruce Yolton was also on site today and took some very nice video, check it out on
Donegal Browne

Friday, April 30, 2010


10:36AM I decided that instead of making my usual afternoon visit to the nest of Isolde and Storm'n Norman I'd try a morning observation. And there was Isolde a bit damp from the rain in the night but as attentive to the invisible eyasses as usual.

A scan to see what Norman might be up to perhaps.

And then a snack for someone over in the corner.

Wait, now someone on the other side of the nest needs attention.

And now a look to the front of the nest. Are there three eyasses or are they just beginning to perambulate around?

All's quiet so Isolde takes a moment for personal grooming.
She makes a sudden move to the west.

Then lays back out of the way. Is Norman about to arrive?

I didn't see him but something just happened up there and I think it was a lunch drop off. From this angle Norman is always obscured by Andrew's head.

Isolde sizes up lunch? Is she looking askance? Could it be a mite stiff?

Whatever it is, Isolde has a heck of a time tearing it up. She has to dig in her talons and really tug to get pieces off.

Feeding motions.

Feeding motions into the corner.

And then waiting to make sure it goes down without any problem. All seems well and going according to schedule. Isolde has this whole thing down without a doubt.

I'd been hearing the peacock scream for awhile so I decide to go and investigate. The interlude with the peacock is in the next post down.
The Fordham nest in 2007
Here's the word from major watcher Chris Lyons--

I went over there [the nest] a bit after 12:00pm today (4/29/10), and saw her feeding young for about 20 minutes--there was a pigeon carcase poised on one side of the nest. Didn't see any white fluffy heads poking up, nor would I expect to at this point, particularly not from the ground, and with the nest deeper than ever in its fourth (non-consecutive) year of use.
Time was I'd wait until I could actually see young hawks before confirming a hatch, but I know the signs very well by now. It's a hatch, and probably very recent--based on past observations, the chicks are probably no more than four or five days out of the egg, and possibly just a day or two.
No photos, but I'd expect Rich Fleisher will be snapping some great ones, once things get a bit more interesting.
Rose's seventh consecutive brood of hatchlings (that has been documented, anyway)--her fifth at Fordham. I'm curious as to why she came back to Fordham with her new mate. It may be that they only left last year because of the construction activity near Collins Hall, which is now winding down--but that explains the departure, not the return. The nest at the Botanical Garden was highly successful, producing three young last year. There are any number of possible reasons, but I have one theory to put forth.
There have been reports of serious conflicts between several Red-Tails (presumed to be Rose & her clan) and the nesting pair of Great Horned Owls at the New York Botanical Garden. Red-Tails and GHO's can and frequently do co-exist, since they tend to favor similar habitats and prey, but it's never an easy relationship, and it can always do with a bit more space. Rose may have simply decided she didn't want her newly-fledged young coming into contact with the most dangerous raptor of them all, before they'd had a bit more seasoning--quite reason enough, I'd think. I once found a dead immature Red-Tail just a few hundred feet from an active Great Horned Owl nest in Van Cortlandt Park.
I'm still waiting for a good look at Vince, Rose's new mate. I'm never going to stop missing Hawkeye, but I'm sure Rose picked a worthy replacement. Without him, she'd have no hope of hanging onto what remains arguably the best Red-Tail real estate in New York City. I would suspect Vince wasn't the only suitor who came calling, given the quality of both the territory and its reigning matriarch. I didn't figure she'd stay single long. Hopefully he won't need too much breaking in.

We're with you Chris in those sentiments and the wish that Vince will be a fast learner, precocious Brown-tail that he is.
Backlit at the Q and A
Art from wonderful photographer Francois Portmann. For more from Francois from last night go to-
Photo by astute Raptorwatcher and photographer James O'Brien, , for more pix of the Opening, visit James' Flickr site-

At the Q and A at the Anthology Archives Film Festival, that's boffo wildlife rehabber Bobby Horvath, center, holding the Peregrine Falcon, and me, right, with the Red-tail on my fist.
All the birds that were brought for the demonstration are unreleasable and are used for educational purposes.

Film Capture from Adam Weltz's film Wild New York of James O'Brien releasing a Kestrel in Central Park, capture by James O'Brien. Link for more above.
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Divine Blue Peacock at The Cathedral of St John the Divine

I'd been watching Isolde and the invisible eyasses for several hours, and I'd kept hearing a peacock scream. It's their usual call but rather unnervingly like a scream to the uninitiated. I'm told, that when the peacocks first came to the Cathedral, until the neighbors got used to them, the police were periodically called out to see who was being murdered over there.
So when I packed up my stuff, walked round the corner and heard it as if peacock was 5 feet away, I looked round. And there several levels up the hill were the tips of a peacock tail shivering in full display. Up the hill I went.

Peacock of course heard me coming and when I came in sight there he was sitting the fence. It occurred to me that perhaps he was attempting to impersonate some sort of exotic bush. Not convincing.
As I didn't pass by or turn around and leave, eventually he got up, rose to full height and stared. I was not menaced.

I suspect he realized that subterfuge hadn't worked and that he was cornered so he measured the jump to the ground...

...leapt it,

and headed my way towards a possible exit.
Eye fixed on me, Blue Peacock decides to pass.

Then trots down the stairs, tail feathers awiggle.

The cock-a-the-walk surveys his domain. He starts back toward me and I sprinkle a little seed on the sidewalk. I'd prefer we were friends. He does have very large, very sharp, feet.

Though there is a neat hole in the wall of the Cathedral that accesses the Peacock house, where the peacock chow is plentiful and high roosts are available, no self-respecting public peacock is going to refuse a little bird seed on the side. This peacock in particular isn't fond of the indoor roosts unless there is intense inclement weather. He much prefers sleeping up a tall tree just outside the Peacock House where he has been known to come down rapidly and land directly in front of people, scaring the you know what out of the tourists.

Up on the fence he jumps,

Then into a small tree. In truth peacocks do a lot of branching, lengthy flights not really being one of their fortes.
It begins to pour. Note the drops beading up on peacock. Not having an oil gland for preening, the water does not bead up on me or my equipment so off to the subway I go.
The hours spent watching Isolde and the invisible eyasses, before Peacock and I interacted will be posted soon.
Also this evening was the first showing of Wild New York at the Anthology Archive Film Festival down in the East Village. There to watch and participate in the Q and A were James O'Brien, , yours truly, Francois Portmann, , Peter Richter, , The Horvaths, Bobby, Cathy, and Sadie, and blog contributor Merisha plus a Kestrel, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Peregrine Falcon, all of whom were a smash hit. And a grand time was had by all. As I was holding the Red-tailed hawk I didn't take many photographs but some of the others did. Pix should be available on their blogs and perhaps mine very soon.
There will also be other showings of the film as the Festival continues.
P.S. The venue, down in the East Village, was right across the street from Samantha Raven's Cemetery. Francois showed me where she sometimes roosts in a tree but she'd chosen another spot this evening. I'll get a look at her one of these days come hell or high water.
Donegal Browne

Monday, April 26, 2010

WILD NEW YORK--THE MOVIE Plus--Isolde and the Divine Invisible Eyasses, Street Art, and Where Are Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.?

Isolde has been standing on the other side there for quite sometime now.

Periodically she looks at the eyeasses. I decide it's time to switch positions and see if I can tell what she's looking at.

I picked up all my stuff, trotted across the street and around the corner just a hawk flew off the nest. What? And then when I looked up at this other view---there was a tail. Someone was still up there but I'd lost a good bit of action in those few moments by being on the wrong side of the foliage.

I start back around to my previous position and notice a cat walking up the sidewalk from Morningside Park. Then the shrieking of Mockingbirds registers.

And here comes one diving and screaming. Note the squirrel that was making his way along the top of the fence just got the begesus scared out of him.

But the real focus of Mocker's ire, is Kitty. And Kitty knows it. Kitty only has one foot on the ground at this point as she's started to truly hustle.

But enough of the sideshow, Isolde is now inside the bowl doing something.

More looking.


Scrunching down???

Isolde seems to be feeding from within the bowl, something she ordinarily doesn't do. Very interesting.

More begging?
Another bite.

I think Isolde is actually getting used to me to some extent after all these years. She now looks at me without her previous wary expression most of the time.
Now it's more, "Yes, she's likely alright and if she isn't I can take her.


7:42pm Virtually Sunset and so I head for home.

I get off the subway at 43nd and Eighth, glance over and--What is that?
I go over for a closer look and that turns out to be some fabric street art. It certainly does brighten things up a bit.
I remember one day walking along 42nd Street across from the Port Authority where many tired travelers wait for taxis, buses, their uncle who's picking them up, etc. and during the night someone had come and put little tiny Naugahyde upholstered cushions complete with upholstery studs on top of fire plugs, standpipes, you name it anything that was upright. I saw many many smiles from people that day, one of the points of playful street art, when they saw the little cushions particularly as they watched others attempting to playfully perch on a four inch seat on top of a hydrant top.
But now to a less happy topic, I'd sent an email to Brett Odom major watcher of the 888 7th Ave nest of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte asking how things were going. Here is his response--
Hey Donna.
Unfortunately I do not have good news. Charlotte and Jr. are definitely not currently using the nest on 888 7th Ave. Perhaps they are waiting a little bit longer, which is doubtful since it is already late April, or perhaps they have an alternate nest at another site of which no one is aware. I have asked around for other nest sightings but have not had any luck.
I still see them flying above the park and sitting on the Essex House sign, but they have not visited the nest on 7th Ave. in several weeks.
At some point one weekend I would like to spend some time at the Park and just see what they do and where they go, but I have not had a free weekend to do that yet. Is Isolde and Norman's nest in the same location as it has always been on the cathedral or have they moved? Wasn't there a year or two where they did not even nest on the cathedral because of all the roof construction?
Brett B. Odom
It is possible that Jr. and Charlotte won’t nest this season but it is also possible that they have a secondary nest somewhere. We know that PM and L often put some twigs on the Beresford and this year Norman and Isolde put some on a fire escape but no one I know of has figured out where Jr. and Charlotte's alternate is.

Yes, Isolde and Norman are back to their nest behind St. Andrew at the Cathedral. Last year as far as anyone could find they did not nest at all. Of course it is possible they used an alternative spot and we never caught them at it. Once they couldn't be found few hawkwatchers were uptown that often so they could have had fledges that we never knew about.

And to the readers, any information about the activities of Charlotte and Junior pass them along and perhaps we can piece something together what they are up to.

Also to the readers within reach of NYC,
WILD NEW YORK, the documentary by South African director Adam Weltz , that features our wonderful rehabbers, Bobby and Cathy Horvath, hawkwatchers James O’Brien, Francois Portmann, and me, is playing, with a panel Q and A, this Wednesday the 28th at 9PM, at the Anthology Film Festival--
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave., New York, NY 10008,
(212) 505-5110
There will be a number of showings of that film and many others so if that date doesn't fit your schedule check out theirs and perhaps one will.

Donegal Browne