Friday, April 06, 2012

Pale Male, A Prairie Burn, County M Hawk, a Grumpy Cardinal, plus a Sandhill Crane, a Great Blue Heron and a Wild Turkey in Flight

             photo courtesy of          
     Beautiful Pale Male looks at the camera.             
 Remember the Red-tailed pair who nested in the oak in the middle of a field off County Highway M in Wisconsin?  Well, they've still managed to hide their current nest from me but I did catch Mrs. M hunting from their old nest tree.  She of course recognized my car and took off before I could her picture perched.

  This male Cardinal menaces another in a male Cardinal brawl at Mud Lake. I say brawl but it was mostly about glaring and posturing.

     A Great Blue Heron Heads for His Night Roost

Dale Dean and Edie Baran of Landscape Restoration start the fire for the  burn of an oak savannah, in which the landowner's house complete with their big propane tank are smack in the middle.  All went well and the mistress of the house wasn't even bothered by smoke coming in her windows.  These folks really know what they're doing.

                                                          Photo by Edie Baran
    (How can you tell this is a photo op during my lunch?  I don't have my gloves on.)

 My apologies for the absence of posts the last few days.  For two days I worked very long days on prairie burns then came down with the flu.  

(Obviously I didn't get the flu from the prairie burns but rather from a cast member in the show in which I'm working as a vocal coach.)

My big excitement at the burns occurred when a stand of Common Reed,  Phragmites australis, that nasty tall invasive that often crowds out the native plants in wet areas given half a chance, went up in flash, leaving me looking at a 14 foot wall of fire.  Beyond setting a small patch of a nearby old cornfield on fire, that I with my flapper (the thing I'm holding above) and a guy with big boots stomping, managed to put out before it spread in the wrong direction.

Speaking of flappers, just how does that flap of rubber tool work anyway?  It can be used two ways.  If you've only got a small leader in the fire making it's way in a direction you don't like, you lay the flapper on it and press he rubber down with your booted foot.  If you've a somewhat bigger blaze that is a problem, you raise the flapper up high and bring it down with all your strength whacking the fire, which blows it out in that area.  And you keep doing it until it behaves or needs stronger measures

If the fire is blazing a bit higher yet but in a controllable line though starting in a bad direction a fire broom may be the answer.  This is a special broom that lives when not in use in a bucket of liquid, I assumed water, but upon thought might have had some additive in it, where it saturates.  When it is needed you pull it out and sweep whatever fuel is in front of the flames, such as debris in a cornfield or dead leaves back into the fire where it burns leaving the area in front of the flames less fuel to spread.

And if there is a bigger problem?  Everyone on the burn was told a height on their body, for me as I'm short a place a little above my knees where if a long flame line has taken a bad  turn, it's time to get yourself out of there, pick up the radio and call for the water truck.

I'd seen the resident Red-tails sky dancing earlier on the property then I spied their nest in a typical location of choice.  Rural Red-tailed Hawks like one of the highest trees available with a configuration that will hold a nest.  That way the nest has a view.  Not only can they see what might be coming at them, they can keep an eye on the territory and perhaps best of all while sitting a nest with not much to do but sit, they watch prey patterns for use later on while hunting.

   Photo D.B.                       A Wild Turkey in flight. 

By the way, that puff of smoke left of center is way back where I am with the camera. It isn't anywhere near the turkeys.

 Not to worry about the birds and animals during this burn, great areas of the habitat are saved and not burned by the slow moving fires every year.  Everybody just moved to those areas of the land which weren't affected for a little while and in many cases then moved right back.  Because of the early Spring there were many green spots that didn't really burn at all.  The fire dealt with the invasive woody stuff, such as Asiatic Honeysuckle and Buckthorn.

Next up from Richard Fleisher, a prof over in the Political Science Department at Fordham in the Bronx and a chief watcher of Rose and Vince--
Writing to let you know that one of my recent photos of the Hawks was selected by Popular Photography magazine as their photo of the day. 
It is posted on their Facebook page ( popularphotography) and on their website ( photo-of-the-day/04-02-2012).  This shot as well as other recent photos of Rose and Vince can be seen on my flickr page (


Congratulations Rich!  Great work and super publicity for urban hawks.  The more people who get to know Rose and Vice and love them, the safer all hawks are!

 The Sandhill Cranes have returned to Wisconsin and are busily finding mates if they need one plus nailing down their nest-sites.

 PROTECTING RAPTORS BROCHURE --For those who haven't had much luck convincing folks that immaculate  sanitation is the only real answer to rats, New York City Audubon has produced a brochure which names the kill-everything-including-your-hawk-child-or-dog poisons in hopes they may be avoided and those with less chance of secondary poisoning for those who just can't live without using rat poison.

Along with tips on sanitation, blocking rat entry to buildings, plus the recommendation that no poison at all be used from March through August when the parents become hunting maniacs to feed their young and inexperienced fledglings are doing their initial hunting.

The brochure may be ordered from NYC Audubon or you may download it online.

Donegal Browne