Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rose of Fordham May Be Missing!

 June 11, 2007- Rose of Fordham prepares a pigeon for one of her fledglings, who is doing a high wire act on a nearby pipe, in hopes of luring him back towards the nest.
 Initially he takes no notice being fascinated by his new surroundings.
 But then he sees Rose and the pigeon. And typical of a hungry eyass flies straight for her.   Rose has to beat a hasty retreat not to be knocked off the roof peak.  Her progeny looks surprised at her rapid exit.


March 19, 2013-As I often do at this time of year, I emailed Chris Lyons one of the chief watchers of the Fordham Hawks, to check on how the resident hawks are doing--  Rose, the female of long standing, and Vince, the  tiercel that came into the territory when Hawkeye, Rose's mate of many years, died of poisoning several seasons ago.   And as they  do have two sites they've used, part of the big news every year is which site they will be using this season.

I was fully expecting that Rose and Vince would have chosen either their Fordham nest site which is their usual choice or as they have much less frequently done, taken up somewhat similar digs in the nearby Botanical Gardens.  And that they would be well on their way to yet another prolific season.

On March 20th Chris responded: Last I checked, all was well with Rose and Vince,  but I just got back from a trip, so I haven't had a chance to see if they're sticking with the old nest site.   Let me get back to you on that. 

Then, Chris Lyon's unsettling response written today, March 22nd...

I'm still trying to assess the situation--I saw Vince today (well, I saw an adult male Red-tailed Hawk who matched Vince's description), but I did not see Rose, and I did not see fresh pine boughs on the nest. I have not actually seen two Red-tails together on campus since I got back.   They were courting a few weeks back. 
Today, I saw Vince grab a half-eaten prey animal and fly around with it, and he would periodically emit these plaintive high-pitched calls.  As if he was waiting for Rose to show up and accept his offering.   And she didn't.  

I'm inquiring with a source at the Botanical Garden to see if maybe she's set up housekeeping there again, but I don't see why she would, since there's no construction going on near Collins Hall this year.   I also emailed Rich Fleisher, [The other chief watcher of Rose and Vince. DB] who hasn't put any new hawk pictures on his site since early February. 

I'm not assuming the worst, but I'm contemplating it.   I may be projecting, but Vince's behavior seemed agitated somehow--even worried.   Maybe he knows something's happened to Rose, and he's trying to attract a new mate before the breeding season ends.  That's not such a romantic interpretation, but it's just as poignant. 

She'd be around 11 or 12 years old now, assuming the nest on Creston Ave. was her first. 

My response--

Oh Chris, this doesn't sound good at all.  The behavior on Vince's part is reminiscent of  Pale Male's behavior when he couldn't find Lola.  He'd have food and call and call for her to come and get it.

If Rose is missing, and I can't think of any other reason that they wouldn't be together right now, I'd say that Vince doesn't know what happened to her and is still hoping to find her.

 Comparing Vince's behavior to some of Pale Male's, (PM has been through a good many mates in the last several years), it is only after he'd given up finding Lola that another female appeared in the territory.

 In the case when one of his later mates was poisoned, Pale Male had been attempting to get her to react to him by bringing food to a nearby tree and calling.  Eventually she fell from her perch dead.  Before long Pale Male had a new mate.  In my opinion he'd seen this mate dead, knew she was gone,  and therefore he then allowed himself to be courted.

The biological imperative takes over, and according to John Blakeman there is always a free floating non-mated group of Red-tails looking for an open spot in a territory ready to bond, particularly at this time of yearIf Rose really is gone, Vince will likely take a new mate in time to breed  this season. 

It will be so terribly sad if Rose too has disappeared like so many other well loved hawks of name in the last couple of years.

Do please keep us updated.

Best, D

I always try to look for all the possible causes of any given behavior.  This is stretching it but weirder things have happened.  Perhaps Chris is right and Rose has decided that she'd prefer The NY Botanical Gardens site this year.  Following that thought... perhaps Vince is attempting to convince her that Fordham would be better.

Wishful thinking on my part I'm afraid 

When it comes to the nest site choice, the formel is the Queen of the World and the tiercel gets cracking making her choice the best nest he possibly can.

I'm still hoping all is well with Rose and Vince.   I'll let you know as soon as I know.   Stay tuned.

Donegal Browne 

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