Monday, February 18, 2013

Pale Male, Octavia, the Brown-tail, John Blakeman On Zephyr's Safety and the Safety of Other Humans

 photo courtesy of
 Correction, this the young brown-tail, likely female, who has been giving Octavia a hard time now and again in Central Park.

New Hawkwatcher Al Olson reports that longtime watchers assure him everything is going swimmingly for Pale Male and Octavia.  They are often seen on the nest together doing renovations and copulating along Fifth Avenue.  Pale Males latest gift to the big O, was a squirrel which according to report she enjoyed immensely...


Zephyr sees John Blakeman through the window on Valentine's Day.
Here are Sally of Kentucky's concerns about Zephyr, the falconry hawk who worked  with John Blakeman for five years before he released her back to the wild last September.  She suddenly paid him a visit on Valentine's day.  (See previous posts.)

 From Sally--
I have to say I was a little concerned that Zephyr was still that habituated? Isn't that dangerous to her in the wild? Is she only this "friendly" around JB, or would she perhaps go to other people, or at least not be afraid of them? How will she know to avoid humans int he wild?

Here is John's response--


Zephyr already avoids people "in the wild." Out there --- beyond my yard --- she behaves as any will haggard Red-tail. It's only in my immediate backyard that she approaches me and lands on my fist, with no concern; as this was where she and I trained for almost five years.

She's not being "friendly." She's re-enacting feeding episodes from her years as a falconry hawk.
Everyone else is safe, inasmuch as I'm the only person who's going to be raising a gloved fist with raw meat on it, while blowing a whistle (her food "bell"). And she's not attacking me (or anyone else) in any sense. She's after the food I'm offering on my glove, not me. I'm rather incidental to the entire matter. It's the food that counts.
When Zephyr flies out of my yard, she instantly reverts to a completely wild hawk. She is very aware of how this works; that it's best for her to take on the behaviors of a wild Red-tail when out of the security and food rewards of my backyard.
Falconry hawks pretty much do this, too, when we are hunting with them. When we are hunting in a field, with our falconry hawk on our fist, the hawk is hunting exactly as a wild hawk would, looking intently for fleeing prey and launching instantly after it. We falconers are pretty much mere spectators of the spectacle. But after the hawk has captured (and consumed) the prey, the falconry hawk elects to fly up to our fist, to be returned to its enclosed perch, where is can safely and contentedly digest the day's capture.
In Zephyr's case, she returns at night to some selected tree perch somewhere in the neighborhood. I don't know where she spends her nights, but she's comfortable and contented.
Everyone, except voles and cottontail rabbits, is safe.
--John Blakeman

Thanks John,  I can't wait to see if Zephyr attracts a tiercel!  Will there be a nest and a webcam in our future?
Stay tuned, fingers crossed!

And don't miss Rob Schmunks Inwood Hawk Report on
Donegal Browne 

1 comment:

Sally said...

Donna, I just realized that the picture here cannot be Octavia, it is a juvenile with brown tail and light eyes...have you read the reports that Octavia is the female that has been cavorting at the Plaza with, apparently, another male? She was ID'd by a dark spot on a certain tail feather. Interesting..