Sunday, May 15, 2011

Violet's Band Information Plus Vi Makes a Good Save and Doesn't Fall on the Eyass

Violet's band has been read and it turns out that she is 5 years old and was banded in the Delaware Water Gap.

As female Red-tails can conceivably lay fertile eggs at two, though three might be more usual, Violet could well be a 2nd or 3rd time Mom this go round.
She likely isn't a new mom after all unless she's never been able to find a mate and a territory in past years.

Personally from watching her, I think she has had previous experience.

Yesterday I was watching Violet feed Solo the eyass, but I came in late so I'm not sure of what the meal consisted of.

After steady feeding, Solo has had enough and faded down into the nest.

She had a few minutes rest. Eating is rather a strenuous business for a little hawk.

Then as often happens after a meal, and a very short rest, it is time to toddle. Time to work on balance and getting up off her haunches. As I'm sure most of you have noticed a bird's "knee joints" bend in the reverse direction to ours. Therefore a young bird is folded forward at first. In order to get upright they have to muscle up, balance, and move their feet.

Flop! Sometimes it just doesn't work.

Notice how she is using her wing to help her become upright.

Now the feet part.

Wing movement for balance will eventually turn into flapping practice.

Violet attempts to lift her swollen foot but the twig wants to come with her foot. It jiggles the nest and Solo looks over.

Violet pulls a few times and eventually her toes release from the twig.
Now she can reach the tidbit that Solo dropped. Clean up and lunch at the same time.

After food and exercise Solo will very rapidly fade off into sleep.

Vi steps into the fish line. When she goes to take another step her foot is caught so she is brought up short. And unable to grip very well with the right foot she over balances.

And begins to fall into the bowl of the nest and little sleeping Solo. She whips her wings out for balance and manages to avert the moment.

Startled, Solo's head pops up. The movement also seems to have freed Violet from the fishing line. Enough altitude was gained to slip it off perhaps?

Violet checks Solo and checks for any stray bits of food that need to be cleaned up.

Then she settles down on Solo and broods.

Violet seems to have done everything that a Red-tail should in order for all her eggs to hatch when it comes to attentive nest sitting. How old is Bobby? Was he a little "off" while copulating perhaps ? Or was it the cold Spring? Or a nest that was only a first season nest and by next season will be fuller, more robust and better insulated. Nesting materials are at a premium in the city.

Let's hope that Violet's band is removed soon and that she and Bobby will come back to this window ledge year after year just as Pale Male and his mates have returned to the nest on 927 Fifth Avenue for decades.

Besides, though the view of this nest from the ground isn't nearly as good as the one of the Fifth Avenue nest, the view from the hawk cam of the nest itself is spectacular. Many thanks to NYU and The New York Times. Keep in mind that though we can see the nest very well, half the action of the hawk pair is occurring off the nest. Where is Bobby? What is he hunting? Are there intruders he must chase away? Where are they disposing of the garbage?

And it is those things that can be seen from the ground. So if you are close enough, some day pull yourself away from the Hawk Cam and go see what the other half is doing. Besides you'll meet some of your fellow hawk watchers, glean information about what happened before you got there, and have a grand time.

Trust me.

Next up from the NY Times comments section, a Kindergarten Teacher/Certified Rehabber who has treated restricted circulation problems in raptors, talks about what her class thinks about all this and what her rehab experiences tells her about Violet's foot--
Ms. Keller's Kindergarten Class
Socorro, New Mexico
May 12th, 2011
2:42 PM

We have been viewing Violet and her nest since last Thursday and we are very concerned for Violet and her baby. This morning, after discussing yesterday's news update with the students, they had an opportunity to write about Violet and their wishes for her and her family. The students had many sentiments on the topic. I wish I could include their responses and illustrations. The overall consensus was that Violet have the band removed and be returned to her family in the wild.
My personal response -
As a certified and permitted wildlife rehabilitator, I have treated a number of cases of restricted circulation in raptors and waterfowl. There does not appear to be an infection in the leg and the tissue color is normal in the foot. Yes, the band needs to be removed before the injury progresses but by the looks of the leg, once the band is removed, normal circulation will be restored and the swelling will subside within a few days. Violet should not have to be treated past the band removal and should be able to return to her nest immediately.
As for the eyas, motherly instinct is astounding in wildlife! It is an incorrect assumption to say the mother and chick couldn't be kept together if further treatment were necessary. It is regular practice to use unreleasable adult raptors to foster orphan and injured nestlings in wildlife facilities to avoid human imprinting. These raptors are accepting young that are completely foreign to them. Another point to make about the "lifetime in captivity" judgment- imprinting is a complicated process and occurs in stages as the animal is development ready. For example, a raptor will not imprint on humans as a mate unless they are nearing sexual maturity and their only exposure at this point is humans.

If something were to happen to Violet, there are numerous options for raising the eyas free of imprinting and with the skills necessary to return to the wild as a viable member of its species.
From the mouths of babes, "Remove the band and let Violet live free in the wild with her family!"

New York city hawk watcher Mitch Nusbaum sent in a heads up. The New York Times Pay Wall has gone up and he suggests watching the hawk cam on the NYU site if necessary. But there might be ways of getting around the Pay Wall if you're on a limited budget.
See the link below.

Donegal Browne


sally said...

Poor Violet could barely stand to bear any weight on that foot while I was watching today, she nearly fell over each time she tried to take a step on it. And it did not look like the normal curl the talons so we don't pierce the eyass kind of toe curling steps going on to me. I sure hope she can make it...

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I guess the DEC is waiting until little "Solo" fledges before removing Violet's band? How long will that be? One month or so?

Donegal Browne said...

The DEC has decided not to intervene at the nest in the matter of Violet's band, so yes hopefully at some point after Solo, now Pip, fledges, Bobby Horvath will manage to trap Violet and remove the band. Though it will be a happy chance if it can be done. Why go after pigeon in a box with net on top when there is all that unencumbered food to be hunted without the strange contraption.

It is about six weeks from hatch to fledge, give or take some days. As urban eyasses don't have much room on their urban nests while hopping and flapping they often fledge prematurely, compared to rural hawks, and land on the ground, hopefully in a green space. At this age they are unable to gain elevation and therefore are stuck on the ground unless they can climb up other things, like shrubs to small trees to large trees. The parents will often perch in a handy tree with food in hopes of tempting them upward out of harms way.

A grounded fledgling in Boston used a bicycle rack, to reach the branch of a small tree and then continued upward.

In more rural areas where the nest is in a tree, the eyasses practice hopping and flapping on the nest. The flapping will eventually take them a short flight to a branch in the nest tree where they will do what is referred to as "branching". They do short flights from branch to branch, returning to the nest for drop off food from the parents.

Eventually they will take a longer flight out of the nest tree to another tree across the way and fly back for the food. Each time building muscle and flight accuracy, often never having been grounded at all.

The only urban nest that I know of in NYC, where return flights to the nest happen regularly is that of Rose and Vince at Fordham.

On that campus there are many trees and buildings in close proximity so most often the fledgling will take her maiden flight and land in a tree (often hanging upside down looking surprised) or on a building and are able to make flights back to the nest after their adventure where a parent will have brought food.

In the busy city if a fledgling is grounded outside a green space, efforts are made by the hawk watchers to get the fledgling into the closest park at which point the parents take over.

If all goes well, Pip will fledge directly off the Bobst window ledge into a tree in Washington Square. If not, no doubt wee Pip will get a little help from her human friends to get there.

Donegal Browne said...

I agree, it wasn't normal talon curling. It was bad today. She is having a hard time. I too hope that her foot will still be viable so many weeks from now when Pip fledges. Plus there is no reason to believe that once she is no longer in situ guarding Pip that she can be caught.