Smaller new Franklin Stepdad on the left and larger Franklin Mom on the right. As original Pale Male Regular Ben Cacace used to say, "NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A RED-TAIL!" And this is definitely an occasion for the sentiment.
Hold onto your hats!!!
As we know, rapid bonding with a new mate, once the living hawk knows their previous mate has died, or when the reproductive imperative (It's time to COPULATE!) takes over, can sometimes be a nearly same day process. But Franklin Institute Mom, has done something I've not only never seen, can't find a mention of it in the hawk literature either, but it appears no one in on the latest has ever seen or heard of the behavior either.
She's gone and bonded with a new male while she has eyasses on the nest. Ordinarily a formel with eyasses on the nest, attempts to take care of them on her own while also protecting the territory from interlopers. And another Red-tail is considered an interloper.
This tiercel must is a real charmer.
I'm completely boggled!
Why would a male take over the care and feeding of another tiercel's brood?
Now perhaps this isn't as rare as we think?
I don't know, we've had a number of instances of widowed hawks with nests full of young who didn't bond with a new hawk though they certainly could have used the help.
And why would a tiercel take on the care of another male's progeny. In many species, males are out to do in the young of a new mate so he can replace them with offspring of his own.
Why would a tiercel do this?
Here's my hypothesis--perhaps this tiercel had a mate and young of about this age this season. Could they all have died? Frounce could have done it for instance, and left the tiercel in the hormonal stage of the reproductive continuum in which he's being spurred to hunt like a maniac and feed young.
Then he comes across Franklin Mom and her nest full of eyasses. There's no male fending him off so perhaps with the above posited biological urges, he hunts and makes a gift to mom.
Which during this time a year is also food to be fed to eyasses.
The urges meld and suddenly Mom has herself a new mate taking on all the responsibilities of mates at this time of year.
Check out the main blog covering the Franklin Institute Nest for their take.
Franklin Institute Camera
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Red-tail hawk history is being made as it appears that a new tiercel has moved into the Franklin Institute territory, has been accepted by mom, and they are now pair-bonded. It is unprecedented for a formel with eyasses on the nest to tolerate another hawk in her territory, let alone come anywhere close to the nest. yet this image taken yesterday from the exterior nest camera, clearly shows the new tiercel in front flying with a vole into the nest, closely accompanied by the formel.