Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pale Male, Pale Beauty, the Franklin Institute Hawks, and John Blakeman

Photo courtesy of palemale.com
Pale Male clips a twig.

Photo courtesy of palemale.com
And heads for the 927 Fifth Avenue Nest. You can never have enough twigs. Ask any Red-tailed Hawk heading into breeding season.

Photo courtesy of palemale.com
And here is his lady love, just look at that wingspan!

Photo courtesy of palemale.com

So did you ever wonder how Pale Male lost the tips of those primaries on his left wing? This could certainly be part of it. He often looks like he is just brushing the building when he takes off from Linda, and indeed he is.

And who might this sweet faced hawk be, sitting in a London Plane looking pleased with himself? This could very well be Pale Male on a dark day. Oh, but it isn't. He's the dad from the Franklin Institute nest. They really are amazingly similar from this angle. He and his mate are twigging in earnest and copulating all over the place.
Photograph courtesy o
f http://sunnydixie.blogspot.com/

Somehow when the following correspondence between Karen of Rhode Island and our stalwart John Blakeman, was forwarded to me, the photo of the leucistic Red-tailed Hawk they're talking about didn't make the ride, but we'll see it soon.

Do these birds have eye problems - is there pigment lacking in the eyes? Thanks. Karen

The true, all-white (no pigments) albinos do have problems. They seldom live past their first year.
But most of the white Red-tails, including the one in the photograph, have only white feathers. Eyes work fine. This specimen was one of the whitest leucistic Red-tails, with almost no pigment anywhere, except in the eye. It was an older tiercel that had bred for a few years. It got hit by a train, with minor injuries.
Most leucistic Red-tails have normally dark eyes, and streaks or patches of normal coloration in many feathers. Still, they look (and are) mostly white.
--John Blakeman

Donna Browne

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