Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Photos and commentary in italics by Jeff Johnson.  


Got onto the MET grounds from 86th Street at 1830 and searched to the south from the east perimeter of the Great Lawn with no joy. I was actually headed due east to go home feeling very despondent when I heard a Red-tail call  that sounded more like distress than begging. 
Hurrying toward the north hill side of the MET the cry was very clear and plain coming from this tree in the down slope glade across from the Temple of Dendur north side MET. 
There was this beautiful blond French lady shooting video of a fledge in this tree. She was so patient in showing me where the fledge was perched. It was fully five minutes before I located the fledge about eighty feet up as shown. Metadata time 1925.
Fledge was basically only showing its six (center of frame) and I moved around trying to get an angle for positive ID. From the not frequent but strident begging I thought it had to be a healthy Opera Star. Yet I could swear it was not the Red-tail cry that brought me to this tree. Asking the French lady about it she said it was pretty much a begging call. Metadata time 1925.

I kept trying for a good ID angle but the fledge was so high and in such foliage that I never got a good frame. Near the time I took this frame the French lady said there must be a second Red-tail nearby sounding off because she was viewing realtime as the perched fledge was silent and preening during a Red-tail call that wasn't quite begging. We began scanning for the second bird when almost simultaneous Red-tail vocalizations began.
Metadata time 1940.
This is the clearest ID frame I got. It's definitely not the striped belly "sick" female. Metadata time 1941.
With the light really failing as the sun dropped and the fledge now silent and probably going into roost mode the French lady was preparing to depart scene and I was frustrated with not having seen the second Red-tail we heard because it sounded as if it were high in an adjacent tree. We had even moved into the underbrush looking for better angles but no joy. While she packed her video gear a  friend of the French lady ran into the glade advising her that the sick fledge had been located at the back of the MET. Proceeding there we found the sick female was hiding herself on a corner of the lowest roof  in the center section of the MET west side (back). Metadata time 2016.
 This seemed to be the ideal time to try and capture the sick fledge and I moved around to the west thinking I could get on the low roof without much trouble and probably just grab the sick female. Last night she had seemed almost too feeble to stay on a tree limb. A veteran hawk watcher  looking to get a better view also had the thought that it might be an opportunity to capture the fledge. She cautioned however that the fledge had flown pretty well to get to this low roof. She was right…if I couldn't get the sick fledge in a single quick move I'd probably just cause it to get a broken wing in escaping. Getting back around to the north side there was the "sick" fledge in full view. Boy, am I glad I didn't do anything stupid like getting on the roof and grabbing her. She looks like a totally different bird  from last night !!! Metadata time 2025.
She does look like a different bird and seemingly fully flighted.  Not to worry Jeff, she'd have taken to her wings before you got anywhere near her. 
"Sick" fledge seen close shows markedly improved appearance from last night. Bright attentive eyes, animated engagement with her environment, and her feathers are sleek and in place rather than pillowed out like last night. It by no means indicates that  she is healthy, but she looks to be fighting back to good health. Last night she looked shriveled and near death. Metadata time 2025.
 "Sick" fledge flies again to a nearby tree on the NNW corner. It's a terrible frame but wonderful proof that the fledge has flight strength and lot's of willingness to use it. Metadata time 2028.
Exactly, this frame is documentation. 

Fledge in nearby tree. Metadata time 2028.
Look how different she appears from last night !!! Going to roost she was very attentive to everything going on beneath her. She observed two dogs that accompanied two loyal hawk watchers concerned about her. 
It's not too evident in this frame but others have a gum ball sized lump in her crop, so she may even be eating now. Maybe we can all be thankful for a miracle here. Metadata time 20

Let's sleep with better thoughts about this fledge tonight.
Well done Jeff!  Thank you. 
For easier comparison to her present condition, I pulled a photo of sick fledgling from yesterday.
She does look better today, the 24th, than yesterday.
Fingers crossed!!!
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Are you folks sure that is the same fledgling? The "yesterday" photo seems to have more orange(?) on the upper breast.

Donegal Browne said...

I wasn't there so cannot personally vouch for it being the same hawk, but it was in the same locale and had a very flat to concave crop.

Cathy Horvath pointed out that terrible days and better days are not unusual.

Not only does light play havoc with a hawk's feather colors but the new cameras tend to "make choices" for us that we'd not necessarily make ourselves. Which can really mess with color. Even vibration reduction in the on position on a camera can be a big problem as camera's tend to "see" feathers as vibration and do things to them.

Also photo shopping to make a photo bright enough when it was taken in low light to see, can wreak havoc.

Life. It's always something isn't it?