Saturday, January 15, 2011

The New Mate Of Pale Male

Photo by Francois Portmann
Pale Male's new girl in Central Park's Ramble, near the bird feeders.
Can you say fierce?

Photo by Francois Portmann
Evidently the time has come for a clean sweep of the natal territory in preparation for breeding season. Every winter, Central Park, particularly the Ramble near the feeders nearly regardless of territorial boundaries, becomes a neutral zone of Red-tailed Hawk feasting due to the deep prey base. But now as the days lengthen and the critical photoperiod increases, hormones begin to cascade in preparation for breeding and those invisible territorial boundary lines begin to harden again.

Photo by Francois Portmann
On Thursday hawkwatcher and professional photographer Francois Portmann was in the Ramble observing Pale Male and his new girl as they went about the business of running the now seen to be intruding young Red-tailed Hawks out of their kingdom.

Note New Girl's puffed feathers exaggerating her size, though she's no teeny thing in the first place, and her ruff standing on end. Scary!

By the way, I'm currently calling this hawk New Girl as a kind of short hand, an interim name, as "the new mate of Pale Male, tiercel of the 927 Fifth Avenue nest" is a bit on the bulky side. One of these days, I'm assuming, as often happens a name will appear and we'll all think, that's it!

Photo by Francois Portmann
Francois caught sight of a band on one of the juveniles, conceivably the one above on the left or the one simultaneously being ousted by Pale Male down the way, things happen fast this time of year. I first scrounged around the net looking for who or where the band may have come from without much success. Then I emailed wonderful rehabber Bobby Horvath asking if he might have any ideas.

Being we've only got 7 7 and a C below them, he said it's tough to tell, though conceivably it could be a DEC band, we need all the digits to make sure. Francois is on it.

Photo by Francois Portmann
This is one of my favorite shots from the day. Feet and ankles neatly and balletically pressed together, a powder of snow drifts in the air...

Photo by Francois Portmann
Her wings breaking at the wrist, feet spread in perching position, she looks down gauging the distance...

Photo by Francois Portmann
...her feet touch, taloned toes close and knees lock. Her eyes are back up, alert, after that briefest of glances down, surveying the area for more interlopers.

Photo by Francois Portmann
Speaking of interlopers--Is there another juvenile to be chased beyond Francois' shoulder or she considering taking his head off.

Photo by Francois Portmann
Oh dear!

Photo by Francois Portmann

Evidently Francois was deemed acceptable as he kept his head and was able to send on his photos.

Just look at her!

Pale Male's new mate is very dark and very beautiful. Obviously a good huntress, see her plump crop and from this angle she reminds me a little of Lola. But then Pale always does go for the Lookers.

And why not, he's awfully handsome himself and does have the best Red-tail address in the world.



Karen Anne said...

Still hoping for the opossum story and pix :-) "double opossum night during a snow storm in Wisconsin...just LOOK at those tracks. Oh dear, I do hope he isn't going to break the serving bowl from my mother's 2nd best china. Oops."

Donegal Browne said...


Thanks for the reminder, now back in the forefront of my mind again, I kept trying to find a day for it, but with Lola coming up missing and then New Girl appearing, things have been tight.

And now snow is falling in bushel baskets yet again. About to go out and shovel for my third time today. I can't let it get too far ahead of me or I just can't lift it. :-)