Photograph courtesy of palemale.com
Pale Male and Ginger stand atop the 927 Fifth Avenue nest.
After comparing photographs, I do believe that the dark hawk currently doing the duty of Pale Male's mate is indeed, the suddenly disappearing, and apparently reappearing Ginger.
What is going on?
Karen Anne Kolling of the Gonzo Deck in RI, sent some questions on to Red-tail expert John Blakeman. It turns out they were very similar to those Mai had previously asked him through Marie Winn. Mr. Blakeman had sent his answers along to Marie but as yet they've not been posted. So answers are coming.
In the meantime, it occurred to me that Pale Beauty seemed quite partial to rodents which I found just a touch worrisome.
Let me backtrack a moment. I'd always thought that like a good beau, Pale Male brought a high percentage of squirrels to Lola during courting each year because she had a particular taste for squirrel. You know, an impress-the-girl sort of thing. Then when I saw that Pale Male was bringing a high percentage of rats to Pale Beauty I thought that perhaps she particularly liked rats.
Pale Male himself often sticks with pigeons, though he is perfectly capable of nabbing squirrels and rats as well. (His taste for pigeon is something I've always been thankful for. Less likely to get a poisoned one.)
Therefore I posited this to John Blakeman, asking if Pale Beauty might have inadvertently done herself in. My thought being that Pale Male being older would know the signs better for a poisoned rat than perhaps the younger Pale Beauty would.
Later it occurred to me that as Pale Male has been feeding Pale Beauty, it seemed far less likely she disappeared due to poisoning.
Though John Blakeman didn't address the poisoning issue directly in his email to me, he did say,
Clearly Ginger has been hovering unobserved just outside PM's territory. At Pale Beauty's demise, she jumped right back in.It's possible, as we know, there have been sightings of not only a dark immature Red-tail in the area but also a mature dark female Red-tail as well.
Then I received an email for Robin of Illinois with some interesting thoughts, titled "Wife Swapping?".
My sister wrote:
(Robin's sister is Pam Greenwood.)
There have been similar problems in Bald Eagles. A mated pair was nesting near the Woodrow Wilson bridge south of DC - the workers on the bridge named them George and Martha. A female appeared and attacked Martha - injured her and she had to be sent to a rehabber. The nest failed.
Then from Robin-- Just last week this was posted on the Blackwater website.
"We were very sad to hear that the NCTC Eagle Cam in WV lost their sole chick over the weekend. As some of you may have heard, they have a female intruder (young eagle) at the nest that prevented the parents from looking after the chick and the unhatched egg. We're hoping that the parents will soon be able to drive off the intruder for good"
Could Pale Beauty have run Ginger off or slightly injured her, then she recovered, came back with a vengeance and injured or drove off Pale Beauty? I suppose it's possible but Pale Male always helped Lola drive other females away when they intruded. If the above is the case why hasn't he helped either of these two formels drive the other away?
I'll be getting into NYC on the 29th, and will be heading into Central Park as soon as is humanly possible. Not that this will absolutely get me more answers than I have now about this puzzle, but heaven knows what will happen next and I want to be there to see it.
The seed-eating Robin...
And Quicksilver is still guarding his cavity.