Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pale Male Sleeps, Mama (and Papa) and Raven Mom Sit Nests, See America's Oldest Bird Mom, Hear a Screech Owl Trill

Photo courtesy of
Pale Male, premier urban hawk, readies himself for sleep. He, as we know, is not in the least bothered by observing humans.

On the other hand, though I'm quite far away from the above power line, which only a moment ago had a beautiful rural Red-tailed Hawk, the Tall Grass Prairie female to be specific, perched on said wire, upon sighting me she was off like a rocket. This pair is good when it comes to diversions and obscuring themselves, hence why you've not seen them before. I try; they win.

Typically off she goes INTO the light which dazzles my eyes.

I saw her curve this direction but was so dazzled I couldn't catch where she went and had to wait until I got home to see what she was up to.

Can you see her?

Now? See her tail below the second cross bar. She's hunting late in the day and I don't want to bother her so I don't try again. Perhaps one of these days she'll get used to me. Maybe. But she has an entire territory to retreat to if she must and I'm only able to look from 1 or 2% of it. She doesn't have to get used to me to make her living.


Mama has overnighted and once again she has started early in the nesting season as in past years. She may have overnighted as early as Saturday March 5th unfortunately we were not able to check on Saturday, however, Mama definitely overnighted on Sunday March 6th. Papa stays nearby and keeps a close eye on his territory near their nest.
As for the Queens Ravens they appear to be in their nest as well. It appears they started mid-week Wednesday March 9th. I have not had as much time to spend observing the Ravens but I am reasonably certain they are nesting. I will get to observe them more this weekend to confirm they are staying in the nest.
I did not get a chance to send you new images of Mama and the Ravens in their respective nests but I will send you some images soon.
Best, Jeff

Congratulations to Mama and Papa-The first over night of the season as far as I know, but then again, Mama and Papa often take get the earliest start on a family each year. All the best!

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
America's oldest wild bird mom (that we know of anyway D.B.) has a new chick.
(And she's looking really good besides. Just check out those fine feathers!)

"She's at least 60 years old, flies some 50,000 miles a year, has had almost three dozen kids and now she's got another one."

To see video of an urban Screech Owl just before fly out, and hear its trill go to James O'Brien's blog

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Pales Perch, Driving in Mourning Doves, the C Crows Protect Their Kitchen, the First Fly, and the Rats on the Galapagos

Photo courtesy of

Typically Pale Male faces out keeping an eye on things while at ease stretching out his leg and curling his talons. Also typically his mate perches looking into the building. That's how Pale Male and his mates have sat on this particular perch on Linda for all the years I've watched. It is obviously an innate behavior for that situation. Also note that their neighbors have courteously pulled the shades down so that they will not see their reflections in the glass. At this time of year, Pale Male has a tendency to thump the glass hard with his feet as a reflex when he sees the reflection of a hawk there.

Copulation, twigging, and long scrutiny of the nest for possible faults, particularly by Pale Male, are proceeding apace for this time of year.

Suddenly a male "driving" a female Mourning Dove appears in view on the feeding area. Note how the female's head is forward; she is rushing. These are young unbonded birds and the male is attempting to get the female to say, "you are the one". He will follow very closely on the driven female's tail in an upright stiff legged posture. She keeps going faster and faster in an attempt to get him off her tail. She will also fly off and he'll often follow her closely as she tries to get away. On occasion he will even peck at her tail in this special form of pigeon/dove courting. Note her tail does look a bit worn compared to the rest of her plumage.

Also note the slightly purplish color on the top of the male's head and his neck. Those sections of feathers will be iridescent in brighter sunlight. That is how one can tell that a particular dove is male without a smaller female mate nearby to compare their sizes.

This male is so determined he flies up in the air and appears to be going to land on the female. She's already got one foot up ready to trot away. She doesn't fly off yet as there is fresh seed in the snow and she attempts to peck some of it while being rushed around. His eye is on her and he seems not to notice the fresh pickings in the snow at this moment.

She's trotting off when she notices me with the camera and takes to the air.

The male stands stock still and looks kind of befuddled that she left. Why would she do that? He wants her.

He then happens to look down. Oh, seed! He begins to feed, forgetting the female he was driving momentarily.

She on the other hand has done an end run and is now behind him sitting on the toasty warm birdbath.

Perhaps there will be two pairs of doves to watch this breeding season.

A few days earlier, the C family of Crows protects their kitchen, the goodie stump and the bird bath that they use to rehydrate human food items they've foraged. Both are a prime part of their territory. Groups of Crows are migrating through the area and the Cs have chosen for the most part to protect my back yard.

Their primary defense consists of Carol and Junior sitting on the log fence, calling warnings while Chris, the large male does flyovers, perches out of sight, and then does another flyover.

Having been warned, the visiting Crows are allowed to fly through on the other side of the wood fence and so far none have come into the backyard proper. Crow manners?

First House Fly of the season, on the outside of the glass.


The Galapagos Conservancy said on its website that before the poison was deployed last weekend, scientists removed 20 Galapagos hawks from two islands and placed them in cages where they will be held for about two months. The raptors might otherwise have fed on rodents that consumed the poison, it said.
(There are only 20 Galapagos Hawks?)

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Pale Male, Pale Beauty, Two Races of Juncos, and Screech Owls-Oscar and Olivia.

Photo courtesy of

Pale Male and Pale Beauty sitting on Linda. Pale Beauty is beginning to look a little chunkier by the day. She's beginning to look a little eggnant. Multiple copulations per day continue.

I looked out the door and saw this little guy. He'd not been out there before but migration is heating up.

Peck, peck. He looked kind of familiar...

but he insisted on staying beyond the picnic table and I couldn't quite bring the name to mind.

In the meantime a Downy Woodpecker was going to the sunflower seed feeder and flying off with a seed in his beak.

He'd then poke the seed into a crevice of the bark,

Then he'd lean back, I think to make sure it was wedged securely and wasn't going to topple out. Then Downy would fly back and get another one to cache.

The little black headed guy was still there and then one of the over-wintering Juncos hopped by, they both startled and there was the distinctive flick of the black and white tail and the undulating flight in both their flights. The stranger is a Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, a vagrant in the East. Whereas my regular over-wintering Juncos are Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Juncos, both are Junco hyemalis. They were originally considered different species.

Finally a first look at scrunchy faced gray phase Olivia's "ear".

A Screech Owl update from Jane of Georgia

Olivia and Oscar were out at weird times today. The first picture is Olivia, definitely grayer than Oscar, taken just a few minutes ago (around 5:40pm, at least an hour earlier than I normally see her at the door).

The second picture is Oscar, definitely redder. He started showing himself around 2pm this afternoon.

It just doesn’t get old!



Glitch O Rama

Dear Readers,

Suddenly my computer has lost the capacity to load photos. None of my programs are speaking to each other. And I seriously don't feel like speaking to my computer either. I hope to have this problem rectified later today. My apologies.

More news on Oscar and Olivia, the two Pales, the Raven's nest, and the appearance of an Oregon Junco in the back yard. Sigh.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Pale Male, Pale Beauty, and Quicksilver's Vent

Photo courtesy of

Pale Male folds his wings and brakes. I'd seen abrupt descents, in this case to the Carlyle, from a distance, but this photo shows the fold and angle of the wings necessary to make it happen. Pale Male is indeed a master flyer.

Photo courtesy of

A little later Pale Male and Pale Beauty copulate on the ledge above the balcony rail on Linda, 920 Fifth Ave., on which Pale Male so often perches to survey his domain.

Looking at this pair of nether regions, reminded me that I had a question about another nether region.

Quicksilver's vent.

Now it is a bit of African Grey owner folk wisdom that an owner can sex their mature African Grey by looking at the bird's vent. If there are red feathers beside it the parrot is thought to be male. If no pink or red is in the area the bird is thought to be female.

Silver is definitely male. He had a blood test done for DNA. But a blood test isn't all that fun for a bird. At the time he had some health issues so he had to have blood drawn anyway, the vein in their neck is used, so we just added the test for sexing onto the list.

The nest issue is of course is that the bird has to be sexually mature. By the time a Grey is sexually mature, around 7 to 9 years, if he's perched somewhere and you attempt to get your eyes enough below his tail to look, he turns around rapidly and looks at you like, "WHAT are you DOING?

You haven't been creeping around before looking under his tail previously, and as these birds are prey animals they don't really like anybody to touch their tail in the first place, and I assume there is a natural suspicion that you might be up to no good back there doing whatever it is you're doing.

And when Silver is wrapped in a towel at the vet's office for an exam, he is growling and struggling so, or running around the floor like a mad thing or flying circles around the light fixture in the ceiling that I've never remembered to take a peek.

So the other day when he was climbing up a seated friend's bluejeans to say hello, and paying me no never mind, I grabbed the camera. He did turn his head around to check what I was doing when I got low and close but if he had turned completely around, as he normally would have, he'd have lost his grip on the cloth, ended up on the floor (only less than a foot away) but he was bound and determined to make the climb for some tickles so I got the shot.

And indeed Silver who is a male African Grey does have reddish feathers around his vent.

Now we need some other Greys to add to the sample. If you have or if you know any African Grey Parrots, not all are as concerned with their dignity as Silver is, so I hope you'll have an easier time getting a look, I'd like to know what you find out.

They have to be sexually mature, and it would be helpful if their sex was known by other means. Obviously in females they may have laid an egg and in males there are other behaviors that owners may have noticed and of course they can now sex a bird with feathers instead of blood, though that test is not thought to be nearly as reliable. And there is the blood test. By what means the bird was sexed would also be helpful with your information.

Let me know. And thanks in advance for scrutinizing parrot vents. (By the way if the vent is dirty the bird is ill and should immediately see a vet.)

Donegal Browne