Saturday, April 02, 2011

Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot Flies Away-For Real This Time

The last time Quicksilver flew away-sort of.

Well this time Quicksilver flew away for real.

As some of you know, I've been down with a bug or a lupus flare or something. But as I was scheduled to fly into NYC to sign some legal documents, see the musical my daughter Sam is in, and lest we forget, pay a visit to Pale Male and Company, I was hopping a flight to the city last Tuesday.

As the stay was to be a short one, and I was traveling on an airline which isn't altogether bird friendly, it was decided that Silver would have a little vacation at Christopher (my stepson) and Holly's (the fiance) house in Madison while I was gone.
He knows them. He likes them and he is a parrot who does like a change of scene now and again. (Wow! New cats to torture!)

However due to circumstances beyond my control, instead of arriving in Madison the night before the flight at a reasonable hour, I drove in at 1AM with the trip to the airport itself not many hours away. Silver's cage and other equipment were ferried into the house and a very tired parrot was squared away for the night. Conversations about much of anything beyond the fact that Silver would likely be flying up onto the top of their refrigerator to guard their version of his "breeding cavity" were brief.

The next morning I got Silver up so he could give the cats a good dose of parrot meows in their faces, which often puts cats right off and keeps them from stalking him for a good while. Then I grabbed my bags and Christopher whisked me off to the airport with Silver safely back in his cage for a little more sleep.

The travel day seemed to go fine for everyone. The trouble began the next day after. It seems Christopher had some things he needed to do out on the covered patio. Silver never one to be left out, undoubtedly begged, whistled, fluttered "baby wings" and said "Want up!" several dozen times from inside the house until Christopher relented and decided to take him outside and perch him on the short railing round the patio.

Not good.

Christopher had not put together the fact that if Silver could make the steep elevation it took to get atop the refrigerator, he was pretty well flighted. And given any wind at all he could be on his way to Chicago in no time.

Well, before long Silver had left the boring railing and had made it to the roof of the patio. Christopher knowing that if he lost my parrot, not only would Silver likely be dead in short order due to any number of possible misadventures but he, Christopher, would very likely be dead as the object of my first homicide in pretty short order himself,

Christopher begins trying to talk Silver down. I tried it that time in the tree, not happening. Though Christopher thought he was making possible progress as Silver was giving little wing stretches, I personally think Mr. Quick. was doing wing stretches because he was warming up for the BIG FLIGHT and testing the air to catch a possible wind. He hadn't had much luck finding a Miss African Grey gamboling across the kitchen floor, now had he? Time for broader horizons.

And that is how Christopher found himself standing open mouthed as Quicksilver took to his wings and flew ever so strongly straight over the second story roof of the apartment building across the street. Christopher took off in hot pursuit.

To no avail. There are any number of mature trees over there, and even without leaves if Silver doesn't deign to call to you he really blends in. Christopher knowing both their lives were in danger, searched and searched. Nothing.

Eventually the proper agencies were called to alert them.

The next day, someone found a rather cold, rather hungry African Grey parrot, conceivably greeting them with a friendly hello followed by a few pointed remarks about nutri-berries, apples, saying he Wanted UP! and offering to step up onto the unknown hand of anyone capable of speaking English. (Silver has always given any human or any animal who doesn't speak English rather short shrift...I mean what good is a creature who can't understand ENGLISH for goodness sake. How would he get what he wants?)

The Humane Society gave the English speaker Good Samaritan Christopher's phone number. The Good Samaritan had found Silver wandering around near Badger Road so he hadn't gone far or had gone far and almost made it back. In fact he could have walked back if he'd paid attention to where he'd come from in the first place. But like most parrots who make a break for it, they suffer from flight euphoria and are having such a good time, they've paid no attention whatsoever as to how they got to where they ended up.

In the end all was well. Silver was alive if cold and hungry so I didn't have to go to prison for murder after all. And upon getting his hands on the deceiving Quicksilver, Christopher immediately took him to Silver's favorite vet to have his wings clipped.

Therefore the parrot may have to have help to the top of the refrigerator to guard his cavity but no more calls to The Humane Society will be necessary.

Donegal Browne

P.S. Here's hoping that tomorrow my temperature will be down, the temperature outside will be up, and the watching of hawks dry .

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pale Male, Ginger, Quicksilver, and NYBG Great Horned Owls

Photo courtesy of For a hawk of some years Pale Male is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down when it comes to any number of copulations per day, and over a longer period of time than usual besides. And yes, last time anyone looked it's still Ginger he is copulating with.


Ms Browne,

As Mr Blakeman implied in his recent post on Marie Winn's site, Pale Beauty must be deceased. I would think Pale Male has actual knowledge of this fact and has taken Ginger back as his mate, since his character traits have heretofore been total devotion and loyalty to his chosen nest partner. The strength of spirit and determination Red Tails exhibit as a matter of daily living make me ashamed that I complain about anything in my own life.

Quicksilver's occupation of the refrigerator nook is heartwarming. Your compassion in allowing him to do this is commendable, since I'm sure he is denying you access to the freezer door. Carry on bravely !!!

Jeff (Wild NY)

Thanks Jeff, I'll try.

You are very astute when it comes to Quicksilver. You're the first person to note that I might have access issues with the freezer door. And yes, I did eventually.

At first he was amiable enough and would step up on my hand so I could open it, get what I wanted, then put him back up, no muss no fuss. But the last time I tried it, he didn't want to get on my hand and looked rather surly, so I carefully opened the freezer door with him on it. He rode the few feet out and then jumped rather strongly onto my head.

At which point I realized it was probably a good thing that I was leaving for NYC and he was going to stay for the week at my step-son's house. That is until I arrived at his house and realized they have a cavity between their refrigerator and cupboard too. :-)

As to the Ginger, Pale Beauty, Pale Male threesome , there appears to be something very unusual going on. Remember that Pale Male was courting Ginger when Pale Beauty suddenly appeared and Ginger disappeared, then the reverse occurred. Pale Beauty disappeared and Ginger was back in place. As I've said, ordinarily Pale Male would double team with Lola to run other females out of the territory.

I think that he may have been letting Ginger and Pale Beauty duke it out between themselves without taking sides. Unless he did take sides with Pale Beauty and Ginger won anyway, by injuring Pale Beauty or worse. Then with the breeding imperative being the priority right now, Pale Male took Ginger back. It is getting later every day in the season to start afresh.

For whatever reason this situation appears to be atypical in Pale Male's history. Perhaps a more seasoned and hawk socialized female would have bowed out by now. Or there may be something else going on that we haven't even gotten a glimmer of yet.

I do hope we find out what is happening very soon.

Spare females often attempt to invade Peregrine nests. There are a number of cases when it comes to eagles as well. So far no one has sent in a single RTH case, though.

Did something serious happen to Pale Beauty? If so, what?

We just have to keep our eyes open and try to accept what nature, through the hawks, brings us.

Friends: Earlier today, I saw two, yes TWO fluffy white heads in the owl tree. I've attached a cropped image, but If you want to see the photo without the ridiculously large letters, click this link. Here's video. I apologize for the shaky quality but at that far distance, the camera will move no matter how much I brace myself on the wooden fence. Pat Gonzalez Donegal Browne

Sunday, March 27, 2011

John Blakeman, Pale Male, Pale Beauty, Ginger, Plus Quicksilver, and the Seed Eating Robin

Photograph courtesy of
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... back!

And Quicksilver is still guarding his cavity.

Happy hawking!
Donegal Browne