Sunday, March 04, 2012

Are Charlotte and Pale Male Junior Back? Plus the Known Nest History of Junior and Charlotte. And a Favorite Pale Male Copulation Spot

                                                  Photo courtesy of
Charlotte on the nest center and Pale Male Jr. flying off the nest on the Trump Parc building, Central Park South, 2005

I was told second hand that someone had ID'd the pair building a nest on the Plaza Hotel as that Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte. They are the longtime southern Central Park pair, who were known to have built nests in that territory circa 2002 through 2010.  Others disagree.  

What do I personally think?  I just don't know.  I've not seen them so I can't give a personal opinion. 

 I've gotten in touch with some of their previous chief watchers in hope they'll compare the pair currently in residence with their memories and with photographs of Junior and Charlotte from past years. 

I do hope they are alive.  

Therefore lets look at previous photos of the pair for comparison with the current resident hawks if you see them.

Look above at how extremely dark Charlotte is, with a very heavy belly band.  The "light areas" on her breast are a dark cream color as opposed to a white.  Junior on the other hand is much lighter overall.  His belly band is scant but not as light as Pale Male's is.

Photograph by Donna Browne
  The building with the gold top is the Trump Parc on Central Park South and the Avenue of the Americas.  The nest pictured at the top was located on the third from the right corbel, in the bottom row of corbels mid-building.

(Many thanks to wonderful author and original hawkwatcher Marie Winn for investigating what that particular architectural feature is called back in 2005.)

After Pale Male and Lola's nest failed in 2005, a neighbor of the Trump Parc contacted Marie Winn and told her she was seeing hawks going back and forth to the Trump.  It had already been reported earlier in the season that once again Junior and Charlotte's eggs had blown away but as hope springs eternal Marie told me about the possibility that something was going on up there after all if I wanted to check it out.

So I packed up my equipment at the Hawk Bench and headed South.  Do keep in mind that back in 2005 Pale Male and Lola were the only successfully nesting hawks in NYC-- that we knew of.  (We've all found each other in the other boroughs and beyond since.)

As you can see from the photograph of the Trump Parc taken from the park, the nest is way way up there and the sight lines are horrible from the ground.  Not to be deterred, I found a high spot in the park with a view, set up my tripod and started to watching...and  watch.  The view was so steep from where I sat that day that if a hawk was sitting the nest or even standing deep she could not be seen.  I keep watching and going on the third hour of nothing I was getting restless and glanced over at a squirrel,  caught myself looking away, got my eye back on the nest just as a HAWK flew in from the south and one took off the other side of the nest and round the building.  It was a nest switch quick as that!

We viewed the nest mostly that year from Little Hill,  the best angle we could find on the ground. (Later there would be spots on roofs and looks out windows.)  No there wasn't a handy bathroom, or a restaurant, or even a bench to sit on that hot summer as there was when we watched Pale Male but after the grief of no hatch at 927 in 2005 after struggling to get Pale Male and Lola's nest spot back for them,  we still could exalt as  many of us saw our first urban eyasses courtesy of  Junior and Charlotte who had overcome their years of tough circumstances and  succeeded. 

Speaking of tough circumstances--a little background about the Trump Parc nest.  

Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte had nested on the corbel for some years before being successful in 2005.  It is a very inhospitable nest site as wind blows the nesting material away as it does the eggs or in wet weather invariably the cold or the wet seemed to kill the eggs.  In 2006 after the first set of eggs blew away, Junior and Charlotte double clutched, a second clutch of eggs was laid.  That summer there was a drought  and the nest was successful.  Big and Little were hatched and fledged beatifully.

At least one of the current pair that has been seen frequenting southern Central Park has been observed in the inset of a window in the top  row of windows nearest the gold roof .

Photograph by Brett Odom, 2008

Pale Male Junior left and Charlotte right

After another failure at the Trump Park Nest in 2006, Junior and Charlotte moved to a air exhaust window ledge nest site at 888 Seventh. Avenue in 2007. (above) The primary problem with this site for the hawks originally was that it did not overlook a green space. 

Therefore on June 13, 2007,  888 was the jumping off point of a famous NYC hawk event, which occurred when Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.'s  eyass Ziggy fledged down into a plaza near the Ziegfield Theatre during morning  rush hour.   Grounded fledglings are a common problem in urban areas,  and Ziggy, like many others of her ilk  couldn't get airborne again. 

 (In natural areas and also at a very few nesting sites in NYC, the newly fledged hawk can climb up into bushes, branch then into small trees, then big trees,  where she is out of danger and then can be easily fed by her parents until she is better flighted.  At a very few nests in the city, the fledged youngsters can actually make their way back to the nest, which is what rural fledglings do normally.)

But back to Ziggy attempting to climb the wall of a building as there was absolutely no helpful vegetation around,  while a crowd gathered around her in the plaza on June.  First off a homeless man picked her up and was about to make off with her when the crowd put the cabash on that activity and Ziggy was placed back on the concrete to wait for some kind of authorities to arrive and deal with her.  

They waited.

Eventually various members of various "authorities" did arrive and a discussion ensued as to exactly which authority actually had the authority to take custody of Ziggy.  I'm told the discussion took awhile.

Eventually, thank goodness,  renowned rehabber Bobby Horvath appeared on the scene and gave Ziggy a look over.  Then whichever "authority" that after discussion was decided to be the authority, decided that Bobby should take Ziggy back home to the Horvaths rehab center in Long Island where she could be observed for possible non-visible injuries and practice flying in a flight cage.

On the 19th Ziggy was taken to Central Park, a Park Ranger,  than kept an eye on her until Charlotte and Junior appeared in response to her begging cries about 24 hours later and began their parental duties as if there had never been a break.
Photograph by Brett Odom 2008

 Now back to how the previous pair looked--                           
This is Charlotte about to place nesting material . Note she is in bright sunlight which tends to brings out the gold in Red-tailed hawk feathers but she still appears very dark. Note the contrast of her "backpack straps" with the rest of her back.


Photograph by Brett Odom, 2008

Another look at Pale Male Jr., May, 8, 2008, right.  In this muted light his head appears far lighter than his back.  (Compare the coloring with the photo that heads the blog in which the difference in color between the two isn't as highly contrasted.)  Charlotte is barely visible on the nest center.  Yes Junior flew up to the ledge and managed to get the extremely long piece of bark inside.  It wasn't easy.

If you happen to see the Red-tail pair who frequent the territory below that of Pale Male and Zena in Central Park.  Take a good look.  Could it be Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte?

Photo by Brett Odom--Big beautiful Charlotte in flight.

                                           Charlotte, photo by Brett Odom, 2009
          Note how dark her patagial mark is. That's what the mark is called that appears from her neck, extends and then stops midway on the leading edge of her wing.  And her wrist comma, the dark curved mark starting at the leading edge and curving down  just before getting to her primary fingers.  

And check out that heavy belly band!

As this is the time of year when one can often see the hawks circling and get a good long look, compare the above photo with the larger of two hawks busying themselves around the Plaza Hotel.
Photo of Pale Male Jr by Brett Odom, 2009
 Compare Junior above to Pale Male below.  They do resemble each other in a coloration rare in the city, and the reason that many believe that Junior is the son of Pale Male.  A DNA test of the two birds would be the only way we could know scientifically that he positively was related.

Tristan, the late mate of Isolde, now mated with Storm'n Norman, was called informally Pale Male III and also believed to be a son of Pale Male by many watchers.

 When we get to the history of the Divines and the Cathedral Nest of  the Church of St. John the Divine, we'll talk more about the sweet, endearing,  and very relaxed Tristan.
Photo by Donegal Browne

One of Pale Male's favorite copulation spots, Linda #3.   And one of the places where he and Zena were observed copulating yesterday.

Donegal Browne

P.S.  Also keep in mind concerning the current Central Park South pair- either Junior or Charlotte may have passed and taken a new mate so if one is not an original of the pair it doesn't necessarily discount the other as not still being alive with a new mate.  And don't fail to send in your sightings if get some!

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