Wednesday, May 02, 2012



According to people on the chat, and the presence of a large white prey item in the nest, apparently FI [Franklin Institute D.B.] has decided to supplement mama with rat and she took it. She still remains off the nest a lot, even with prey in the nest. The eyasses look good on the cam. 

Sally also wrote... They are saying that the male chooses the nest, so it is unlikely she will stay.  But - Isolde is still nesting on the cathedral with a new mate in Norman after losing Tristan; Rose is at Fordham with a new mate; Intrepid stayed in Riverside after she lost Builder. Who says mama at Franklin will not bring in a male to HER nest?  They don't read the books we print about them, do they?  ;)

Indeed Red-tails are funny that way, aren't they?  They just don't give a flip about what is in the  "Red-tail literature".  
In my experience the females stay-- if well bonded to the site.  Which Franklin Mom is as she's had previous success there.

 The only NYC example where a female didn't stay that comes to mind is Houston Mom.  It was a terrible site for nearly every reason and the year she used that site, her mate and all three of her eyasses "disappeared" out of her life.  
Her mate died of Frounce and because there was no place for the fledglings to branch off the ground, all three were taken into "custody" of one sort or another.   Mom was seen in the area the next year but then she too "disappeared".  It was a horribly bad place for Red-tails.
A female who has lost a mate, I think, wants to hold onto whatever security that she has left.  She's spent time defending that patch of ground.  She knows the enemies and the prey patterns. She knows which humans are trustworthy.  She's the queen and all she has to do is attract a mate.

James O'Brien of the Origin of the Species Blog, observed Isolde circling very high, then take off with purpose.  She soon returned with Norman. This was within days of Tristan's injury and disappearance as breeding season was upon her.

No NYC female with a juicy territory and boffo nest site  has ever had anymore trouble finding a mate than Pale Male has.    
And that, I think is the reason that Isolde and Rose, for instance,  ended up with very young tiercels.  These were unterritoried males out looking.  The boys would have to have been total dopes not to go for a territoried female with experience.  These formels were the raptor model of those rich landed widows who know how to handle herself in all those British novels.

A male may choose the territory as part of his attraction for females but he doesn't choose the site.  That is the formel's decision.  And also keep in mind that a female also chooses the territory because she accepts the tiercel in the first place.  That's one of his selling points. 
If the formel doesn't like the territory she won't fight for the tiercel. (Yes, I believe sexual dimorphism exists in RTH's because the females fight each other for the right to the tiercel and the territory. Package deal.) 
 I firmly believe, Franklin Mom won't leave the territory unless she can't attract a mate to the territory.  And as urban nest sites are as rare as hen's teeth, she'll stick to the cam ledge as well if at all possible.
As to Franklin Mom staying away from the nest even though food is being supplied.  Sadly she likely does not know what has happened to Dad.  She's still looking for him in case he needs help.
Also a single parent will often stay off the nest in a spot where, if a predator goes for the nest, she can come down and nab the bad guy from above. 
Donegal Browne  (Scroll down for previous post of today.) 


 Photo courtesy of
 Good News--
Photographer Rik Davis, a fixture at the hawk bench for many years, called Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, with the news of a hatch at 927 Fifth Avenue.  Lincoln Karim also states that Pale Male is busy hunting for his new family.
 Bad News--
 Contributer Linda Maslin sent in possible news of the Franklin tiercel.  We do not have a positive ID, but the area in which the hawk was hit could be indicative.
Mike Thierfelder
Hello, I have unfortunate news about what happened to Dad. On Saturday morning at about 6:30 AM I was driving east on I76 when I witnessed a Red Tail Hawk struck and killed by a small truck in the left lane several car lengths ahead of me. The location was just west of the 30th street underpass, between the BFB split and the 30th oncoming ramp. Given the location and timing this was certainly Dad.

The bird came out from under the truck, skiddied accross the road ahead of me and ended on the right shoulder. I am positive it was a red tail. He may still be there on the shoulder. Sorry it took so long to get this out. I heard about this Tuesday morning and was unable to ever get through the FI phone system to a real person. So I applied to your group and had to wait for acceptance
Mike T.
 Then an update from Tulsa's Jackie Dover, by way of Robin of Illinois--
"Carolyn Card Sutton
Just returned from driving the area of I76 described by Mike. Most definitely the red tail killed there was Dad; it was so VERY much his primary hunting grounds; directly across river from the Schuylkill Banks Park across off ramp from Spring Garden Bridge next to Art Museum where we have watched him so many times over 4 years. Unfortunately, although I drove the route twice, there was no sign of Dad on the shoulder of the road. There are many construction crews/lane closures in area, and I believe some worker or other cleaned up the remains.. The area there was very clean (no trash, litter, anything), considering all the 24/7 traffic.".............
Now we know.
A memorium in photographers for Franklin Dad,

Update on Astoria Park/RFK Bridge Hawk Nest

From Jules Corkery, major watcher of the Astoria Park Nest-

Hi All

This morning, Atlas brought food to the nest so we got to see both parents - they look alert and well fed.  After Atlas left, Andromeda brought the rat around to the back of the nest and two little grey downy heads popped up above the nest to greet her for breakfast.
They are still only visible when they are super active so we're not sure if there are any others.
Good luck, little family.

Jules and Robert
Jules is also a community activist and urban hawk educator who, particularly since Atlas' original mate Athena was poisoned leaving eggs on the nest, has been out there spreading the news about the dangers of secondary rat poison.   She's now distributing NYC Audubon's brochure/flyer about safer rat control.

Just an example of what we can all be out doing from house-a-fire Jules referring to the flyer  NYC ,

The Astoria Park Allliance would love to distribute the flyer!  It's My Park Day is May 19th - we come in contact with an estimated 500 park patrons.  We will have volunteers from NY Cares,The  International High School, Green Shores NYC, and a few others.  We also will be presenting at our Community Board 1 on May 15th. 
 I'd also like to bring flyers to our Astoria Civic Association meeting and give some to the local BID, Central Astoria Local Development Corp.

Here is the link for the  flyer

 The end game would be to have Brodifacoum and Difethialone, the second generation poisons that give hawks no clues of their presence,  made illegal first in the communities where we live and then everywhere.

 Donegal Browne

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


                                       Photo courtesy of

The Franklin Institute tiercel was last seen on Friday.  He has gone missing leaving his formel with three very young eyasses on the nest.

The formel left the nest today to hunt.  She was gone two hours but did return with a large rat. Unfortunately it will be very difficult if not impossible for her to feed and care for three eyasses on her own.  

I have suggested that the local Hawkwatchers institute a supplemental food program similar to the one rehabber Bobby Horvath and the Riverside Park Hawkwatchers used when Riverside Dad was poisoned leaving Intrepid, the Riverside Mom with eyasses on the nest. Previously frozen rats and Quail were left where she could see them.  She took to the program without missing a beat. It worked very well and no eyass starved on the nest.

If memory serves, The Franklin Institute Nest overlooks a highway which will possibly make leaving visible and easily obtainable food for the formel to take to the nest somewhat more difficult.  Perhaps there is an adjacent window ledge where food could be left discretely for her to find.  This would also keep her closer to the eyasses in case they needed to be protected from predators.

The Franklin Hawk Cam was turned off for a short while after the tiercel went missing but then began broadcasting again.  It is currently off again. ???

Fingers crossed.

Donegal Browne

 P.S.  Word began to circulate today that feeding behavior may have been observed on the part of Zena on the 927 nest.  No confirmation yet from long time Fifth Avenue Hawkwatchers. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pale Male Waits, the Highbridge Red-tail Nest, and the Songbird Nest Report: Robin, Cowbird, Chipping Sparrow, Mourning Dove

 Photograph courtesy of
 Pale Male as dapper and self assured as usual surveys his domain on Saturday from one of his favorite perches on the Linda Building.  No doubt as usual, mentally absorbing the many prey patterns spread out before him which he will put to good use when the mad rush of hunting for hungry eyasses begins.
 Photo taken on April 28th.  Things have changed since then.
 Just exactly whose eggs are what has become slightly clearer.  This year the Cowbird eggs do not match those of the, I think now, Chipping Sparrow host.  They were the brown heavily speckled eggs as opposed to the pale greenish blue with a few flecks as were all the eggs last season-both Chipping and Cowbird.

 The nestling above with the giant red mouth is a cowbird chick.

It turns out that one of the ways that a parent bird knows who is hungriest in many song bird chicks is that that chick's mouth will have the heaviest blood flow.  Hence another survival quirk for Cowbird young is a constantly bright red mouth.

The nest in question is deep inside this clematis.  Early the morning of the 29th I heard an enormous racket and looked out the window next to the trellis. It was a Crows vs every-other-bird-in-the-neighborhood melee.  By the time I got outside the Crows were being chased across the park by a feathered posse of mostly Grackles.  I took a very very quick peek into the nest.  I couldn't see  the chick and it appears to have been predated.  I'm not sure about the status of the eggs, (I got a glimpse of one of the pale ones), as to get a really good look requires a tippie toe stance and some peering as opposed to seeing the red mouth of the chick which really stands out.   I didn't want to be the last straw for abandonment of the nest by gawking  if it wasn't abandoned already.

Later in the day I did see a parent whip into the Clematis and I didn't see it come out again right away so perhaps there is still hope.  I'll chance another look once in a day or two.

Remember the nest that we'd decided belonged to a Robin?  Indeed it does.  Note that sky blue egg.  
In fact it appears to belong to a rather human habituated Robin though she will flush out by a surprise thump of the front door. (I've stopped using it for the time being.) 

This is the lowest Robin's nest I've ever seen.  The bush is less than four feet tall besides the fact that if you stand on the front step you could reach out and pull mom's tail without even leaning.  Look carefully near the top of the bush and you'll see her tail feathers sticking out the back of the nest.  Though perhaps the fact that the nest is so close to human habitation may be one of its selling points. 

The nest robbers, mostly Crows here, (The Blue Jays were extirpated from the area by West Nile virus.), never come this close to the front door. 

 I have a feeling that since the township's new garbage collection agency supplies large covered wheeled bins for both recycling and garbage that perhaps any domestic garbage picking, if any, the Crows were doing has been completely eliminated, making nest robbing, once again, an important source of Crow protein.

That is until the softball games in the park with their resultant refuse of hot dog and brat goodies in open cans take some of the heat off.


Remember the dove nest in the tall bush?  Yesterday I noticed that the twigs appeared disturbed and there was no dove eye peering through the greenery.  
The nest has disappeared.   Not to worry too much as  there were no feathers at all to give away the demise or even the disturbance of the parents.

And do check out Rob Schmunk's beautiful photos of Martha and the eyasses at the Highbridge nest on his blog at--

Donegal Browne