Saturday, July 07, 2012

More Fabulous Fifth Avenue Fleglings on the 4th from Johnson and Eagles Take to a Human Reconstituted Nest When Land Owner Chopped Down Their Nest Tree

 Photos and commentary in italics by Jeff Johnson.  Commentary not in italics, mine.
Saw my first fledgling after entering the Park from 79th Street and winding along through the trees West of the Arch Bridge. It looked to be one of the Kerbs Cafe Duo, the one with a Peach breast/striped belly band. She{?) wasn't doing any begging when I spotted her. Metadata time read 1451. [12:51 PM]
 Getting over to Kerbs Cafe I found there was a fledge perched on the now favored limb, being photographed by July 4th families. It's the same size as the fledge I just saw and because the "Kerbs Duo" appear larger than the remaining fledge of the 927 Trio I'll refer to these two as females. This one has the mottled belly band. You can see a pronounced yellow breast due to the auto color used in PhotoShop CS6.
 Now the other female has flown over from the tree I just left and perched on a limb in the upper left corner.
 While the Kerbs Cafe Duo delighted the holiday throng (myself included) I was also struck by how many squirrels were out and about. Maybe lured out by hopes of visitor supplied treats.
(The italics button is being quirky so my stuff will have to be something other than black until it shapes up.) 

 You may well be spot on Jeff about the influx of squirrels and the possibility of treats.  They've also likely figured out that if they are close to crowds of people the hawks are less likely to dive in and make a grab for them.  Though Pale Male has been known to do just that.  Rather startles the tourists.
I made my way back toward 76th Street because I heard that 3rd fledgling with the opera star lungs and "his" insistent feed me song. 
Near the entrance on 5th Avenue I was again fooled into scanning trees and street level perches because the begging was so loud and clear. An out of place tuft of white along the railing  at the uppermost terrace on the North end of 76th Street proved to be Mr Fledge 3.

The building in question just south, just right of 927, was called by hawk watchers, the Fisher Building, in an homage to Dr. Fisher, an original Pale Male lover. 
 Just incredible windpipes…he(?) sounds like he's on the sidewalk across the avenue. Metadata time reads 1508. [3:08 PM]
 He flew off (every frame I took was unusable) and I headed back toward theSailboat Pond area by the walkway parallel to 5th Avenue. Nearing "Alice" a fledge overflew me from out of the NNE and alighted on a branch about a 100 feet south of me. Sunlight reflecting off its body let me find it just NNW of the cafe patio near where the Duo so often like to beg.
Closer look at the fledgling from a better angle. I wanted to think it was the fledgling from the railing I'd just been watching and it looks small in size, but the markings look to be Peach breast/striped belly.
There is also a difference in the shape of the head between the sexes of Red-tails, though most of us aren't 100% proficient in telling the difference, particularly in fledglings.  NYC birder and Photographer Francois Portmann explains the look of females as "hawkier".  It sounds odd but he's right. The best time to try to get a grip on it is during nesting season when the hawks are paired up and you can often see them side by side for comparison or tell them apart by behavior.  

The gifted British raptor expert Jemima Parry-Jones can not only sex a raptor at a glance she can tell you its age as well.
 It changed to a tree above "Alice" where it stayed for a while before flying into the north Kerbs Cafe trees.
Metadata time read 1545.  [3:45 PM]

 Rather than immediately start begging the fledge pounced on twigs and...

 Dived into the brush to pursue some squirrels. Beautiful Red-tail. Metadata time read 1601. 
 So I had spent about ten minutes prowling about in the brush below the 5th Avenue wall trying to get some decent frames of the fledge play/hunting twigs and squirrels. I follow the fledge as it emerges out into the open glade adjacent to the Kerbs Cafe north patio. "PLOP" …imagine the sound of a thawed Cornish Hen being thrown down beside you…that's what a rock pigeon dropped as a meal by Pale Male sounds like.
 In the instant I looked at the dropped pigeon and brought my camera around it was covered by one  fledglings and challenged by a second fledgling. Thinking I was going to conclude my fledgling spotting recons without ever experiencing a food delivery, I almost had one for a hat.

Completely hilarious.  Be careful what you wish for.  One of the hazards of hawk watching. Particularly with Pale making the drop.  Humans tend to be just another part of the landscape when he's on a mission.  Rather like a shrub as he's so human habituated.  
 I think it was the fledgling I'd followed out from the brush that claimed then mantled the dropped meal but It happened so quickly I'm uncertain.
Situational awareness should have made me aware of what was about to happen. I got locked into getting a "twig hunt" photo and missed a much better opportunity. I'm sure the fledglings were aware of what was about to happen.
 Fledge 1 mantles her recovered meal and keeps a wary eye on her sibling.
 Twelve feet overhead Pale Male watches his charges decide what to do with the fresh meal he's just provided. Note the tufts of feather along his spine. I wonder if he's been pecked upon recently or if he hasn't groomed himself yet after his strenuous flight.
At this time of year, Pale Male likely doesn't do much preening in the daytime.  Things are pretty hectic for him.  In fact the only time I've seen him do much preening at all is after he's gone to his roost and is preparing to sleep.
Also before long adult Red-tails go into molt.  The feathers he's wearing now have been with him for nearly a year and so are well used.
Pigeon delivery scene. Pale Male is directly above the fledglings and concealed by the leaves from this angle. Metadata time read 1624.
 Fledge 1 begins to have her dinner. Metadata time read 1627.
 Pale Male continues to overwatch the fledges. Visible in upper left corner.
 Fledge 1 continues to hungrily eat her dinner. Metadata time read 1645.
 While these two fledges sort out their dinner arraignments I moved out by the Sailboat Pond to check on the 927 Nest and hope to see Zena. Almost missed another opportunity by staying too focused. While using binoculars to get a close look at the nest I almost missed  Pale Male and Zena soaring about fifty feet above 5th Avenue. I watched them make several circuits along the buildings and Park area. They ascended several hundred feet up going in and out of sight lines  for about three minutes. Metadata time read 1650 on this frame, so Pale Male must have decided that his meal delivery was proceeding as it should and left his vigil within minutes of when I left. Remarkable to think what it must be like to have the ability to be firmly on the ground in Central Park and then on a whim, be riding thermals hundreds of feet above the same place.
 Back with the two fledges which had the dropped meal, it looked to me that the same fledge was still gorging.
 But the second fledge was growing impatient with watching from her tree branch.
 Without much resistance the first fledgling surrenders the remaining meal to second one after it drops to the ground. Metadata time read 1701, which means the first fledge had only been eating roughly 25 minutes. Its crop doesn't look very pronounced from this angle. Have the two been swapping turns…do Red-tail fledglings do such a thing?
Well Jeff, that's quite a good question.  I've not seen them do it, which by no means that these two haven't worked out a system as these are the two that tend to hang together, yes?  Though it would be unusual.
My conjecture in the past has been that one fledgling has had enough and leaves the rest to another.  Or perhaps the first was full enough not to want to bother protecting the less desirable parts that are leftovers.  Or as  we've no way of categorically saying it never happens (never say never with Urban Red-tails in particular as they're quite an adaptable group), and Red-tails can be cooperative perhaps they did trade off. 
In what I thought a surprise move, the fledgling which had been eating dashed off into the nearby brush pursuing squirrels. This is the same group of scrub I'd been  in earlier and with the same Red-tail fledgling I think.
Red-tails do have perseverance, and long memories concerning prey.  Besides being freshly fed can bring on fresh energy, and these youngsters are no doubt wired at this age to get this hunting thing down. 
 Besides, who wants to be outsmarted by a squirrel?   

At first I thought this one was full of spirit to decide it wanted to chase squirrels in the heat of the day so soon after just eating. But looking at the crop it doesn't appear very large. Maybe, I have it wrong, this is the fledge that dropped from the branch, but it didn't wrest the pigeon from the one who was eating and now it's so hungry it's decided to try some impromptu hunting tactics.
See the silhouette of her chest?  If this fledgling hadn't eaten for a long time likely her upper chest would be concave. 
 He really enjoys the  scenic view for his grandstanding pleas and he has faint coloration, so maybe Pale Male gives him singular attention. For his vocal efforts alone, this one deserves it.
Here's my theory about about our little loud friend.  He's smaller so therefore will likely not compete successfully with the two possible females below in the bushes.
If he is a male, when he grows up he'll be quicker than the females, more agile in flight, and require fewer calories.  And I've always thought that as the boys don't have the brute strength, they have to learn to be more clever besides being quicker.  Opera Boy is being quite clever to get up there on the roof where he's plain as day and well, raise the roof as well, instead of trying to compete with the big girls down on the ground. 
I suspect little guy would like nothing better than a food drop up there on the roof where he could conceivably eat in peace. Which he might well get without anyone seeing it happen as Pale would likely come in from Sixth Avenue to make the drop to keep the fledglings in the park from seeing it.  He does pay attention.
Let's hope the 927 Fledgling Trio, as well as all the rest of New York's fledglings continue to stay healthy and thrive into adult life.
From your mouth to God's ear.
Next up a grand success story gleaned by Robin of Illinois, people can make a difference! 
The eagles watched while it was being made, and then they used it!
Axed eagle's nest rebuilt by B.C. Residents
CBS News
(Note: This pair of eagles had been nesting in the original tree for many many years, raising young, to the delight of their good human neighbors. The good neighbors wanted them back, even though their first nest and tree had been (illegally) destroyed by the property owner where the first nest tree was situated.)
A pair of bald eagles is resting safely in their new nest after some Vancouver Island residents scrambled to build them a new home when their old tree was chopped down. Residents of Campbell River's Galerno Road were outraged and devastated in February when an eagle nest tree was cut down by a property owner. Janis and Jim MacDougall said it was heartbreaking to watch as the displaced eagles tried without success to quickly build a new nest and they became desperate to help.
So one day at the end of March, they recruited a tree-climbing friend who spent five hours atop one of the MacDougall's trees weaving a new nest with rope, branches, grass and leaves sent up by the work party below, along with bits of the old nest, and a big chunk of salmon for a housewarming gift.
Janis says the eagles watched the entire operation from a nearby tree.
"The next morning the eagles went in and they've been there ever since. They laid an egg pretty much right away." It was April when the egg hatched. Since then the eagles have raising a young eaglet in their new home.
These days the MacDougall's are watching the nest for glimpses of the growing eaglet, which is soon expected to begin learning to fly.
"Everyone's just ecstatic. [It's] amazing that we were able to help. It really is," said MacDougall.
Maj Birch, the founder of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, said she has heard of few other cases of eagles taking over artificial nests, and praised the community's efforts. "It is kind of heartwarming that people would go to that effort to try and reconstruct something that these birds could use. And what is amazing even more is that the birds took so readily to the nest," said Birch.
The Conservation Officer Service is investigating the possibility of charges under the Wildlife Act for the destruction of the original nest. The tree had been labeled with a Wildlife Tree tag under the provincial Wildlife Tree Stewardship (WiTS) program.
This is the second post in the last few hours so if you've not been here lately do scroll down for the first post!

Donegal Browne--Stay tuned!

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