Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Violet of Washington Square & NYU, John Blakeman, DEC, Dumpsters, Rat Poison, Riverside Park, Central Park, Rose and Vince of Fordham, Clutch Size

Screen capture courtesy of NYTimes CityRoom Blog

May 10, 10:40am, Violet stands on her left leg with her right up and it isn't because she is relaxing. The metal band is making her foot so swollen she can't use it, besides the fact that this band has become life threatening.

And lest we forget look at that fishing line all over the place that tethered Violet to the nest for awhile and made her leg worse.

What happens when the eyass (I've decided to call her Solo until whoever gives her an official name.) starts toddling around and gets it tangled around her neck? It will be just a tad late to get Bobby Horvath up there to take care of it, won't it?

I've had quite a number of questions come in basically asking, WHAT IS GOING ON WITH VIOLET? WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO DO SOMETHING?

From the NYTimes City Room Blog--

"Plans to remove Violet from the nest and treat her injured leg are on hold for now as the State Department of Environmental Conservation has stepped in to take charge of the case and has opted to monitor her for now and seek more opinions, citing concerns about the welfare of the eyas in the nest.

"Removal of the adult, even for a short period of time, would endanger the hatchling and eggs," the department said in a statement Monday evening.

(Ah, the formel does leave the nest on occasion. we've seen her do it. Have you guys ever watched a hawk nest? Violet hasn't been holding her feces since Solo hatched and Red-tails don't ordinarily defecate on the nest.)

New York University had reached out to the state, ... "

(More at link above)

Reached out to the state? That was NYU's first mistake but they didn't know they'd be hearing from clueless bureaucrats who have never watched a hawk's nest, care more about not looking bad as per a decision, or not offending important personages than they do about the animals they are paid to protect...

Don't get me started.

Actually I'm all ready started. In fact I'm rather in a fury.

How do we know that the DEC is clueless? Note the first paragraph written by the NYTimes bloggist. The writer uses "eyas". The proper name for what comes out of a Red-tailed Hawk egg. Even the writer knows that!

Now what term is used by the DEC in their statement? Hatchling?

Get a grip! No biologist worth his salt uses the silly generic term
hatchling about anything. It's the desk potatoes who are calling the shots here and as Bobby Horvath's wildlife rehabilitation licenses come from the DEC, they are his bosses and he's completely powerless to do anything about it until they say he can.

Just makes you sick doesn't it?

In the meantime hawk enthusiast Mai Stewart sent an email to hawk expert John Blakeman concerning Violet and the Portland nest in which four eggs were laid.

I don't as yet have Mr. Blakeman's permission to print the full email as I didn't send an email asking him until he was likely asleep. Therefore I'll print the second portion and wait for permission for the first half, which very likely will appear here tomorrow.

First Mai's email-

Dear John,

Re Violet (NYU) -- what are your thoughts about her foot/leg condition, her ability to feed/raise her eyass, and the long-term consequences for Violet? Can she be saved? I know plans are in the works w/ the Horvaths and NYU officials to try to capture her, remove the band, quickly treat the injury and return her to the nest. Do you think this can save her leg/life?

Have you had any similar experiences? I know the Horvaths are excellent rehabbers and want to help if possible. It is very hard to watch Violet struggle with this injury.

Re Portland, OR -- apparently 4 eggs were laid, but only 3 have hatched -- is it unusual for an RT to lay 4 eggs? We've only seen 2 or 3 here in NYC. The 3 hatched eyasses appear to be thriving, and their mother extremely attentive and diligent.

Thank you,


And the second portion of Mr. Blakeman's email to Mai--

... She [Violet] already favors her one good foot when standing, and we falconers know from years of experience that when a hawk can't use both feet, when it must stand preferentially on just one foot, it's just a matter of time before the good foot gets "bumblefoot," an infectious sore. When that strikes, the game is over.

In the East and Midwest, four eggs are simply never laid. If there are any authenticated cases of a clutch of four, I'm unaware of them.

But in the West, there are giant populations of ground squirrels, of several species. These are rather easily and abundantly captured. So the large prey population, along with the mild winters, allows formels to load up on nutrients and lay and hatch four eggs.

Clutch size in Red-tails (and most raptors) is directly controlled by the availability of prey. Here in rural northern Ohio, our Red-tail nests average 1.6 eyasses per nest. We simply don't have a lot of big rodents running around the row-crop landscapes here. Corn and soybean fields are biological deserts. The only habitat for prey rodents is ditches and fencerows, so local Red-tails really have to work to find enough prey to produce more than one egg.

--John Blakeman

Photograph courtesy of palemale.com
The Dumpster in Riverside Park earlier in the month.

Though we have been promised that no more rat poison will be placed in Washington Square Park during hawk season. Rat Poison and nasty sanitation is still firmly in place in Riverside Park and Central Park.

(Can you believe they are risking the poisoning of world famous Pale Male? Talk about possible really BAD press.)

On the May 4th update, of this blog which concerned rats, poison, and garbage disposal in Riverside Park. I posted a letter that contributor Karen Anne Kolling had sent to, among others, Mike O'Neil of the Boat Basin Cafe, in which she told them just what she thought about the death of Riverside Dad, overflowing dumpsters, and rat poison. She received a response from Mr. O'Neil part of which said he was going to obtain more dumpsters. Then today, I received an added tidbit about the Riverside dumpster in the comment section of that post from Bruce Yolton, of urbanhawks.

Bruce pointed out that the dumpster that is in Riverside Park is one that is made for yard waste not food waste and therefore isn't sealed. Rats can access the goodies through the unsealed seams making it an easy buffet for rats as soon as the day's light begins to dim. Therefore it isn't just more dumpsters that are needed but the correct dumpsters for the job and lest we forget, dumpsters that are used correctly.

Which brings us to the dumpster outside the Boat House in Central Park.

Photograph courtesy of palemale.com

Note the differences between the two dumpsters.

Yes, folks, we're getting a little seminar on dumpsters this evening.

Directly above is a dumpster which is built for garbage. By the way, technically garbage is refuse that contains food waste. You'll also note that flapped back segment on the enclosed portion of the dumpster is a lid that is supposed to close the dumpster and keep garbage bags from toppling out or blowing out of said dumpster where rats would have extra easy ground access.

Though rats being adaptive clever creatures they've been know to find avenues to the tops of dumpsters as well. Oops, shouldn't leave them open like that, should we?
Beyond that, though I've run across a few garbage dumpsters in my time in which the lid was so well fitting, so tightly flush to the bottom that you couldn't even poke a piece of old chewing gum in without opening it.

Whether this one is snug is really beside the point though isn't it?

So even though the Boat House has cleaned up their act enough not to have plastic bags of garbage stacked so high in the dumpster regularly that many ended up on the ground as happened in the past, it just isn't good enough. Their sanitation has a big hole in it or they wouldn't have all those boxes of rat poison all over the place.

Photograph courtesy of palemale.com
Including one right next to a kitchen door. Disgusting or what?

Once again, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." Well members of our species anyway.

You know between the human idiocy surrounding Violet's suffering and rat poison laying around like candy, I think I need a little diversion before I become catatonically depressed

BATTLE OF THE BATH PART 2-A momentary diversion to take us away from our frustration and fear concerning Violet on one hand and rat poison on the other. Then we'll get back to more avian news. Some of which is even good!

When we left the Battle of the Bath Part 1, Mourning Dove had flown over to the bath, looked at the scary crowd, and decided that perhaps a drink was enough for the moment. She then flew off to the twig pile to wait.

Mourning Dove has just made her exit and Red-winged Blackbird, Starling, and Grackle go back to their baths.

Baths which seem to being lasting for rather a lengthy period of time for those waiting in line on the twig pile for their baths.

Male Rosebreasted Grosbeak, left, lets out an aggressive squeaky metallic, keeck, in the direction of the bath.

And he's off toward the south, Mrs. Grosbeak watches him go and Mourning Dove is distracted by some other doves in the park.

Mrs. Grosbeak goes back to watching the bowl.


Because she knows something we don't.

Mr. Grosbeak has done a stealth flight to below the bowl, where the bathing birds can't see him. He clings to the pebbled side of the base, bracing himself with his tail while he listens.

Wait a minute! Did Grackle leave and Cowbird break in line to get into the bath. You just can't trust the black bird clan.

They bathe; he waits a few moments.

Then WHAAAAA!!! Starling flings himself unceremoniously across the bowl.

Look at Starlings posture and face--Jeez, that was really embarrassing!

Beak out of joint, Starling considers making an issue of Grosbeak's entrance. Then thinks better of it and goes back to bathing.

Grosbeak lets out another of his aggressive keecks.

Grosbeak continues to stare pointedly. Starling pauses, Red-wing doesn't.

Then suddenly Starling and Redwing are staring at each other. ???

Grosbeak continues his, "I'm waiting" stare. Starling splashes mightily and Red-wing squawks in complaint.

They glare at each other.

Then both crowd into the center of the bowl where there is actually some water left and try to out splash each other.
They come up for air and look in opposite directions. Grosbeak waits.

The bathers go for it again. Grosbeak tired of waiting, pulls another trick from his bag, and does a feint towards the bowl but stays in place.

Red-wing has had enough and leaps into the air.


One down, one to go.

To be continued...

Photograph courtesy of palemale.com
Pale Male and Ginger Lima doing their jobs awaiting a hatch.
Fingers crossed!

As we could all use some good news, blog contributor Karen Anne Kolling of the Gonzo Deck in RI has sent in some great Whooping Crane news. Yes, I know, it's about time there was some great Whooper news.


"Friends of Necedah NWR is reporting that W1-06, the first ever wild hatched Whooping crane in the Eastern Migratory Population has become a Mom herself! This is the FIRST "second generation" Whooping crane in the reintroduced population and the grandchick of #17-02 , First Mom, the crane that was shot November 30, 2009 in Indiana."

And some news concerning Rose and Vince's nest at Fordham from hawkwatcher Chris Lyon--

I saw Rose on the nest yesterday, looking down into it with great interest, and doing a bit of mantling (shading the nest with her wings and tail), even though it was cool and shady. I thought I saw some white fluffy feathers, but I never saw a little hawk head, or definite movement. The nest is really built up now, and without being able to look down from a higher level, it's just not possible to say for sure what's going on until such time as the young are able to move around. Hopefully they're not only hatched but healthy. I'll know for sure in two weeks, when I get back from vacation. In the meantime, I'm sure Richard Fleisher will be checking in.

It sounds like you might have a hatch! Congratulations.

Donegal Browne

1 comment:

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