Photo courtesy of http://www.palemale.com/
Octavia, the eighth mate of Pale Male
Hawkwatcher Roger_Paw writes that, though she has a small kernel of doubt, she's pretty sure that Octavia is mating with the male down at The Plaza Apartments.
Then the question becomes is the male hanging out at The Plaza actually Pale Male or another hawk who just looks a bit like him?
As Ben Cacace spoke great truth when he said, "Never underestimate a Red-tail!", we should never say never when it comes to Red-tailed Hawk behavior.
Is it possible that Octavia is copulating with two different males? Just about any behavior may be possible with Red-tailed Hawks. They are very individualistic and they are adaptive thinkers.
If so, a good question becomes as bonded pairs are almost always in visual contact with each other during mating season, where is Pale Male during all this?
I've found no cases in the literature of female bigamy, but as we all know, NYC hawkwatchers see all sorts of behavior that isn't in the literature.
And there are cases on record of a male Red-tail, taking two mates at the same time and providing for both females and two batches of eyasses at the same time.
So far I've not found a female who copulates with two males but it doesn't mean it hasn't happened.
That said, let us remember that Pale Male always offers his mate an alternative to 927 Fifth Avenue and give some thought to where Pale Male has strewn a few twigs this year.
We've often chronicled this behavior in past years but as far as I know no one has yet discovered any alternate sites for 927 this season.
Each year Pale Male offers his mate a secondary nest site, and sometimes even a third, just in case she's silly enough not to take the premier location at 927 Fifth Avenue. So far she's always chosen 927 since it has been offered.
Pale Male often offered Lola an alternative nest site on The Beresford, where they both tended to spend the earlier part of each day. He'd bring a few twigs and hang out in that spot early in the day, then later they'd both move to the east side and hang around that area, including 927.
Is it not possible that the this year's temporary nest, that spot typically with just a few strewn twigs, is on The Plaza?
I commend Roger_Paw for finding a current ID mark for Octavia.
I agree that that particular female downtown is Octavia.
During nesting season a big part of identification has to do with location though many may not admit it.
And the light on a hawk's feathers as any hawkwatcher will tell you changes the color and depth of color of those feathers drastically at times.
Could Octavia be two-timing Pale Male. Of course she could be.
Could the Plaza Male and Pale Male be the same bird or a different bird? Both are possible until we find a defining mark which doesn't appear on both.
Or secondarily, a rather a terrible thought, when is the last time that Pale Male was definitively spotted?
Is he missing?
That would fully explain Octavia's copulation with a different hawk if that is the case. The biological imperative to propagate takes over at this time of year.
Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Hawk Season 2013.
Stay tuned. Let us hope it is not another season filled with grief.