Thursday, March 07, 2013

FLASH! Reports Pale Male Taking a Pigeon to the 927 Nest Late Wednesday Evening< Is Octavia First Nighting on the Nest, and Clarification on the Nearly Simultaneous Copulation of Fifth Avenue and Plaza Pairs Plus Male Comparison In Differing Light reports that Pale Male carried a pigeon to the 927 Fifth Avenue nest late on Wednesday evening.  It is unknown whether Octavia was sitting the nest and possibly over nighting when Pale Male brought the food.  

As the time approaches for a formel to start sitting the nest, tiercels will often make a larder of the nest's edges .


Pondove, originally a Washington Square Park Hawk Watcher and a monitor of the NYTimes Hawk Chat room, sent me this email for clarification on the information gathered on this past weekend concerning Pale Male, Octavia, Downtown Male and Downtown Female by longtime hawkwatchers, Stella Hamilton (Downtown) and Katherine Herzog (Uptown)

Hi Donegal, 

 I am not 100% clear on this...were there TWO teams (I guess so because you said "about the same time")? So   the Plaza hawk is not Octavia if Octavia was copulating with Pale Male, right? They are certain, correct? 


Hello Pon,

Yes, we are certain.   Kat reported the copulation of Pale and Octavia uptown at 78th Street.

Stella reported the copulation of Downtown Male and Downtown Female almost simultaneously down south.  There are definitely two full pairs of Red-tails, one uptown and one downtown.

So it isn't as if anyone is missing a mate. That is absolutely certain.  Also Stella saw two hawks twigging downtown while Octavia and Pale Male were both in view uptown by Kat. It is a certainty.

But it also appears that Octavia and Downtown Male may be copulating as well on the side as it were, as they appear to be friendly with each other.  Unless of course there is a third female that has that black spot on her tail feather like the one Octavia has.

The next thing to track down is to see if DT Male appears to be chummy with "Octavia", not his mate nor the real Octavia downtown when the real Octavia is positively ID'd uptown.  It would be a rather huge coincidence  to have two slightly or completely without a sub-terminal band  females with a similar black spot on a tail feather but stranger things have happened in unbanded field sightings before.  Though I am currently leaning heavily in the direction that Octavia is practicing polyandry.

We do know that Octavia is seen flying downtown by Kat and then suddenly she is spotted by Stella in the South hawks  territory.  I find it unusual that Downtown Male's mate doesn't take O on for this behavior.  

 Perhaps they're related in some way and know each other. :)

I'm wondering if Downtown Male may have been the one who grabbed Octavia's pigeon due to John Blakeman's take that it could be an example of  sexual behavior between intimates and not serious beak and talon dangerous.

 Pale Male  was certainly serious about it, though he would be, that's HIS game with O if anyone is going to play it with her  if it were sexual bonding behavior.  And if it was thievery that's just way not happening in Pale Male's living room either.

Hope this helps. 

Next up the coloration difference of hawks in different lights generally and that of Pale Male and the Downtown Male specifically.

Scroll up to the top photo on this post and  see Lincoln Karim's photograph of Pale Male taking the pigeon to the nest late this evening.  Pale Male appear almost grayish and the contrast between head and back looks slight.
And here is one of my photos of Pale Male on the nest in the glare of a sunny day when the light is golden in late afternoon.  Note the huge difference in coloration between the same hawk in different light.

Next for your consideration, Stella Hamilton's photographs of Downtown Male on a very overcast day pushing 6PM, and the first one below back lit besides.  He looks quite dark.  

By the way straight on facially, he looks so very much like Pale Male.
Here is Downtown Male backed by a building a minute later.  Stella reports he is slightly darker than Pale Male with less contrast between the color of his head and that of his back.

I hope that this comparison clarifies some issues and helps with identification as well.  

Then arrives the million dollar question--

If Octavia is over nighting for the first time tonight and we do know that she and Pale Male were seen copulating today-- when was the last time Downtown Male and "Octavia" were seen being chummy.  Because there is then be the query as to when the first egg was laid and whether there might be some question of  the paternity for that egg.

Some season we're having and it's just the beginning.
And last but not least sharp eyed Sally of Kentucky pointed out to me that Pale Male now has a slight feather aberration that might aid in his identification for those who do not know him very well.  

Pale has broken a tip off his 4th primary Lt wing :)  Hard to see live but it might be useful in photos 


Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne  
Scroll down for the earlier post of the day if you've not seen it yet.


Sally said...

Don't forget what I think is the easy ID of Pale Male's barred tail when its flared; it is unique to most CP Hawks in pics I've seen. :)

cathartes said...

Just to clarify, primary feathers are numbered from 1-10 with the outermost primary being number 10.

Donegal Browne said...

Excellent point as usual, Sally!

Donegal Browne said...


Thanks for the clarification!