Tuesday, February 08, 2011

John Blakeman Rethinks Pearl's/ Pale Beauty's Age (Consort of Pale Male) and a Red-tailed Hawk vs an American Crow

Photo courtesy of www.palemale.com/

Long time contributor and Red-tailed Hawk Specialist John Blakeman gets a clearer look at Pearl's eyes and revises her age.


The photograph of Pale Beauty on your website more clearly shows the distinct coloration of her irises. They are a bit darker than I first thought, from some earlier photographs of reduced detail.

Clearly, this bird is in her third, not her second year. She doesn't yet have the ultimately dark, saturated brown irises that Red-tails have in the fourth and subsequent years.

And this may account for her displacement of Ginger, who clearly, with yellowish irises, was in only her second year. Pale Male, it would seem, has preferred a more mature new mate, not a youngster in her first year of sexual maturity. At his age, the selection of a very young mate might have been a bit presumptuous. Pale Beauty, clearly, is still a young adult, but a year older (And wiser?) than Ginger was.

For a while, some of us might have entertained the name "Lolita" for that first bird, given the respective ages of the now-dissolved and unconsummated pairing. PM's reputation is once again restored with this older new consort.

--John Blakeman

3:46:05 pm
Temperature: 8 F.

Earlier today, I looked out the door and far over into the park a large bird was flapping toward the north. Ordinarily these large birds turn out to be crows but there was something about the wing beats. the curve and undulation of the wings that looked like-Yes! A Red-tailed Hawk.

Though the park with it's sports lights for perching and open ground for hunting would seem to be a prime Red-tailed Hawk haunt, particularly as it is rampant with romping rabbits, rodents, and abundant squirrels going from one wooded area to the other, I very rarely see Red-tails over there. I've seen them more often but still very infrequently perched unobtrusively in the trees adjacent to the houses.

I've wondered about this phenomena before and even taking into account the fact that at times the fields are in human use and at others, like now, covered in deep snow, there are still times, it would seem, when even a hawk who isn't human habituated could still happily hunt. But evidently not because I don't see them doing it.


Well, today's Red-tail, a juvenile, evidently doesn't know why or doesn't care as she's doing it anyway. She scans the northeast, where across the road the local high school has a grassland where the tops of some of the seeded plants still poke their heads through the snow cover. Perhaps there will be small mammals availing themselves of the seeds.

Now to the north, where more sports fields abut a tree line.

To the west- sport fields, a treeline, and a harvested corn field.

Now back to the north, and that appears to be just what Chris Crow has been waiting for.

3:48:26 pm

The young hawk's head is turned and Christopher comes in from above and behind, then dives for her head pulling out just in time. He does a second pass and starts a third but before he gets close she takes to her wings and heads determinedly away.


This area is in the territory of the C Crows- Christopher, Carol, and Chris Jr. I watched the hawk fly in and light, then took the top photograph at 3:46:05pm. My last photograph was taken at 3:48:26pm.

It takes me ten seconds when digiscoping to reset the timer, allow it to run, and get the next photo. By the time the next photo could be taken the hawk had left the perch and was out of frame.

Therefore this Red-tail was in my view from the house, for under three minutes before she and Chris were out of view.

Could part of the reason I rarely see Red-tails in the park be that before I've had a chance to see them the crows have already shooed them away?

I'm thinking that might well be part of the answer.

And why do I see hawks in the trees slightly more often than on the very visible perches of the sports lights?

Whereas a hawk perched in trees near a house with a feeder for instance, might not be seen immediately by the crows, nor even less often by me, due to cover they might perch there more often due to a possibly higher prey base because of the feeder.

Eventually the crows do find the hawk and will harass her until she leaves. But in doing so near the house, I hear the crows mobbing the hawk, and am lured to look, and I'll see the crow's behavior and possibly see the hawk, which I wouldn't have without the cue. Also chasing a hawk out of tree is best done by several crows making the event noisier and more visible.


From Robin of Illinois, pertaining to the cross fostering of Cheetahs. Did you know that if a Cheetah mom only has one kitten that she won't produce enough milk for it and it will die? Therefore in order to have young nurtured by their mother you must have TWO--


And while I was at the NPR site, I discovered that there has finally been a study that proves that yes, dogs can smell cancer. Back in the 18th century, it has been reported that the nun who ran the Hospital of Angels in Paris had a number of dogs across her lifetime who could point out hidden infections, cancer, and a variety of other ills.


Donna Browne

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