Friday, February 25, 2011

What Is She Doing To Pale Male? Just What Are the Two Pales Up To? Plus Doorstep and Friend Soak Their Feet

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What is she doing to Pale Male?

Now I've never seen one Red-tailed Hawk preen another. Not even the mom's preen the young as far as I know. Not even the tops of their heads which is a prime spot for another bird's help to get the sheath off a new feather as obviously your beak can't reach the top of your head.

Certainly many other species do it but Red-tailed Hawks though affectionate in their own Red-tail kind of way aren't exactly full time snugglers or preeners. They're more into sitting companionably together a few feet apart after copulation, or roosting even more feet apart but in the same tree sometimes for sleeping.

I did see Pale Male Jr. "kiss" Charlotte once as he was leaving the nest one day. He was taking off from one side of the nest and instead of heading off in that direction which would be usual, Junior flew past Charlotte who was standing on the other side of the nest, and they touched beaks. He then shifted around in the air and went off to do his business. Jeff Kollbrunner of jknaturegallery ,who watches Mama and Papa said he's seen them "kiss" several times.

Is the isolated preen so rare I've just missed it? Maybe. But Pale Male is all scrunched down and doesn't really look like he's enjoying having her beak in his feathers above his left eye.

Photo courtesy of
In fact it looks like he's telling her to knock it off by vocalizing.
Double click on the photo and check out Pale Beauty's expression. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Isn't she looking at him as if he's good enough to eat? Actually now that I've looked at it again and I'm thinking about it. Eyasses sometimes give their siblings that look, when they are about to jump on each other and play and they have been known to nibble at each other a bit. Hard to tell what eyasses are thinking but as they are young I always took it as a form of play. Now the two Pales have been out there cavorting in the air courting, and Beauty is young and heavily jazzed up hormonally, so perhaps she's not totally sure what to do with how she feels right now. And in the typical Red-tailed Hawk way, when they have an urge, they try things one after the other in order to try and satisfy that urge until one works.

Hence Pale Male telling her that it may work for her but it is definitely not working for him. These particular photographs do show the reverse sexual dimorphism in size very well.

When everyone knows what they are doing on the nest, the nest boss is the female. Pale Male being plucky, experienced. and having had to train young mates before likely knows that there are some things that just have to be nipped in the bud before they become a habit, no matter where you are and I suspect pinching his eyebrow is one of those things. He isn't reticent to speak up when necessary as you can see.

Watching the two birds meld to each other habits, divide the chores as to who does what, and when should be absolutely fascinating this season.

For those who don't know, all the Red-tailed Hawk pairs I've watched divide up the chores in slightly different ways. At the Cathedral Nest of St. John the Divine, every evening Tristan would take the last feeding of the day, stripping bits of meat off the prey and gently dispensing it while Isolde took a break sitting on a roof as the sun went down. Isolde's new mate, Storm'n Norman, has more of a tendency to practically throw the prey at the nest and zoom off if he can get away with it.

Pale Male Jr. on the other hand is quite attentive and will feed the eyeasses if he happens to be there when they wake up and Charlotte is out but he doesn't have a particular schedule as Isolde and Tristan did uptown.

From what I've been told Pale Male seldom if ever feeds the eyasses when they are small but he does do a tremendous amount of hunting and brings prey to the nest in abundance.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Photo: Donna Browne

And as evening fades in, there are Doorstep Dove and Friend in the bath warming those feet up before going to roost.

Donegal Browne

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