Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Isn't Easy Being a Hawk--Tall Grass Red-tailed Hawk and the Cooper's Hawk Waits

It's dark for 3:30 PM, and a cold sporadic rain has been falling for over 24 hours. I'm still attempting to come up with techniques to keep the Red-tails from taking a powder when I pull over. This hawk is far further away than she appears as this is the full extent of my zoom lens. So far so good. She's not paying much attention to me yet.

This is cropped and lightened. Note she's still got her eye out for possible prey.

I drive closer.

Now she defecates and is paying me more attention and could take off in any second. I've been putting on the windshield wipers to get the rain off the windshield, stopping them and then taking pictures.

As I learned with the M hawks keeping the radio going is a help. Hmm, I consider if I'd be able to keep the windshield wipers going too and take a photo in between swipes.

It works! With the wipers going at a steady rhythm she goes back to focusing on possible prey. Another technique for future reference! It is a lousy day and I do want her to be successful so I leave to give her the best shot at catching dinner before full dark.

The young Cooper's Hawk is waiting....

...for the sparrows to come out of their stick pile like above. So far they've completely refused to cooperate.

Donegal Browne

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Violet's Back and Bobby Red-tail is Feeding Her, Mai's Response, and a Cooper's Hawk Stakes Out the Back Yard

I rather suspected when the feeding area became a birdie ghost town day after day, with Doorstep Dove and Friend only appearing to eat and sit on the heated water bowl when it was very nearly dark, that one of these might well be haunting the neighborhood. And sure enough, a young Cooper's Hawk sat big as brass on the "nest" I made which is less than a dozen feet from the big stick pile that several dozen sparrows take refuge in when needed.

Back in September I discovered this or another bird very like him standing ON the sparrow pile waiting for a sparrow to pop out.

How do you ID this bird as an immature Cooper's Hawk? You can't see a the tail but the streaks on the breast are skinny and the underbelly lacks any streaks at all. The head also has a warm cast compared to the streaks, and the eyes are light.

UPDATE--As of December 11th, Violet has been sighted once again in Washington Square Park according to bloggist RogerPaw!

It is of course possible or even probable to some that something could happen to Violet of Washington Square Park this winter but it is also possible that it won't as we've seen nearly miraculous hawk comebacks before.

As Hawkwatcher and bloggist Ben Cacace used to say on the Hawk Bench, "Never underestimate a Red-tail." And perhaps I'd amend that a little now and say-- Never underestimate an urban Red-tail in particular. They are extremely tough, and possibly even more adaptable than their rural cousins. I wondered if Violet's mate Bobby might start feeding her! And he has!

I'd come across a couple of pairs where one hawk in a pair bond had fed the other during a disability and so very much hoped Bobby would do the same it if was necessary. That could make a huge difference in Violet's survival prospects being she'll be well fed and not as subject to infections.

With her mate hunting for her, Violet may have time to get better at one legged-living with practice and be able to get more food for herself. Eventually once whatever is going to happen with her foot happens. Possibly the atrophied portion may fall off and the remaining portion of the leg will heal? I know, horrid to think about but more positive than the alternative none the less.

Violet then might find ways to creatively use the portion of the leg that remains once it has healed and is no longer painful.
Some good news for the pair bond is that since she's completely flighted she'll have little trouble with performing all the things in flight necessary to once again cement her pair bond with Bobby when their mating flights occur early next year. My concern is that she may not be able to balance for copulation which wouldn't be good for the pair bond. Though she may just hunker down a bit further and find copulation spots where her remaining foot will be secure enough to hold her in place well enough if Bobby flaps his wings a bit more and doesn't joggle her too much.

Then we just have to hope, if they have successfully copulated that she doesn't have more eyasses than she is dextrous enough to feed, being that just feeding herself is tough enough with one foot at the moment.


Hi John,
Thank you for your thoughts and expertise, even tho the picture is foreboding.
Marble Cemetery is not that far from WSP as the crow (or hawk) flies (if you google Mapquest & search "Marble Cemetery, Manhattan, NY," you'll get a good map illustrating the proximity of WSP to MC), and it could conceivably be considered part of Violet's/Bobby's territory (pls someone correct me if I'm wrong).

The crime in this is that nothing was done when it could possibly have made a difference in the outcome -- that the Horvaths were ready, willing and able to attempt to capture Violet and treat her leg, but were prevented from doing so. And the Horvaths are caring and experienced experts.

It's true that we don't know whether that could/would have contained and/or reversed the progression to what we now see, but at least the effort would have been made, everything we could do would have been done.
Again thanks,
(It has since been clarified that regular watchers of Violet who know her plumage best, do not believe she was the hawk in Marble Cemetery.)

Donegal Browne