Thursday, February 20, 2014

Octavia and Pale Male Clear the Territory, Ohio State Red-tail, and Another Seach for Culprit the Canny Cooper's Hawk


The boundaries of Pale Male and Octavia's territory are hardening.  Just in from Central Park Hawkwatcher Andy Martell--

I had a chance to spend a few hours worth of time in Central Park before work today and  had the pleasure of watching  Octavia and Pale Male chase some unwelcome birds out of  their area.

I first heard a hawk scream, looked up in  time to see Octavia bearing down on an apparently clueless immature Red-tail who was flapping toward the lake as if his life depended on it.  Maybe it did but I doubt it.  Pale Male then flew in from the north and helped him on his way too.

Another too got a send off.   A Turkey Vulture who flew high above the Observatory Waters (The real name for what traditionally the hawk watches have called the model boat pond, D.B.)  didn't get as much hostility from Octavia but more of an ushering out by the pair.

It was totally cool  to be able to share some time with these special Red-tailed Hawks.


Thanks for the update Andy.  From all reports New York City's original Red-tailed hawk Pale Male, the Monarch of Central Park and his latest Consort Octavia are working hard on producing  progeny and creating yet another fascinating  season for us to watch!

Next up it appears that Ohio State students are sharing their wooded campus with at least one Red-tailed Hawk.  Or at least they are noticing the hawk for the first this year.

A red-tailed hawk perches on a tree on the Oval. Credit: Lee Mcclory / Lantern reporter
Photo courtesy of Lee Mcclory

The article  concerning the hawk was in the student publication The Lantern, and had some interesting factoids about Red-tails I 'd not heard before.  

Interesting Factoid:"Red-tailed hawks typically choose trees that are about 65.3 feet tall, according to a University of California Oak Woodland Management study."

About 65.3 feet?  

Which made me wonder if the other choices they make for nest sites  are within that height range?   

Not in New York City, nests have been built on any number of different level floors.  I suspect a much bigger criteria is a spot in which the twigs will stick at whatever height high enough to avoid people and ground predators like dogs.   Nor did the Riverside Park Hawks, who nested in trees,  choose nest sites that high. 

And some information I'm not sure I agree with such as that from Barbara Ray, wildlife education director at the Ohio Wildlife Center.  She was quoted as saying, "They’ve [Red-tailed Hawks] learned that if they are in places that are more populated and well-lit, they get more warning about predators,”

Which predators?

The only big two I know of for Red-tailed Hawks are People and Great Horned Owls.

There are certainly plenty of people on the Ohio State Campus and as Central Park has periodic visits from Great Horned Owls so well might Ohio State's Campus.

I'm thinking like Central Park, Ohio State has a large and deep prey base and there lies the reason Red-tailed Hawks are attracted to the campus. 

 It's the lunch.

And lest we forget, my feeders yet again today were deserted no doubt because of (drum roll) Culprit the Cooper's Hawk.

I'd just come into the driveway in the car, heard Crows cawing, looked up and saw a very large Crow jump over a squirrel who was hunkered down on a branch in mid crown of the Ponderosa Pine.

I don't see that everyday.  

More cawing. Ah!

I remembered I'd gotten a bowl ready of tasty stale tidbits for the Crows earlier but hadn't put it out.  I put up my hand in the signal to the Crows that food was coming and went and got it.

Out  I come with the bowl, and when I look up one of the Crows had re-situated to be able to watch the door of the house.

The Crow looked away cawed, twitched his tail, cawed again and twitched his tail.  What was he seeing?

Just where is Culprit?

 I realized it was time to to go out and do a search for the stealthy little bugger.  When I couldn't find him visually by staring at the trees,  I decided to photograph the trees and scrutinize them inch by inch.  He may well use the good perches more than once.

First off the place is absolutely full of squirrels.

See the curl of tail in the crouch?  He's totally flattened out on the other side of the limb. And there is a certain amount of squirrel "groaning" going on.  Similar but not identical to the sound when a Red-tail which actually will take squirrels as opposed to a Cooper's Hawk which I'm told doesn't.

Feeders are still empty and I still don't see him.
I head up  the block for the long view. I search the branches in quadrants.  Still no cigar.
The North side.  

No Culprit that I can see, let me know if you spy him.  

Though if you look carefully there is a squirrel crossing on a wire.
                      East end.  No soap that I can see.

Then I spy this squirrel eyeing the neighbor's big Spruce.

I can't see Culprit up  there but by the time I go in the house and look out the window, the dickie birds are all back at the feeders.  He was there somewhere and they saw him leave.

Tomorrow IS another day.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

I disagree regarding the explanation that Red-tails are moving to Ohio citie because they can see, or can be more free from, predators.

Not so by any means. Ohio Red-tails have no effective wild predators. Some will claim that Great Horned Owls prey on RTs, but there is simply no contemporary evidence for this. The owls know better; to leave the big hawks alone --- which build nests that Great Horns commonly expropriate (without conflict) from the hawks.

RTs are invading cities because the countryside is saturated with them (no new open Red-tail spaces or territories), and because there is ample food in cities that RTs can exploit: rats and squirrels, primarily.

--John Blakeman

Anonymous said...

The explanation that Red-tails require trees of a certain height to live or roost in is utterly bogus in Ohio. I've studied, bred, banded, and rehabbed Ohio Red-tails for over 40 yrs. The tree size factor is not a factor. They perch where ever they please. Tree size is immaterial.

--John Blakeman

Donegal Browne said...

Hi John,

I'm with you completely.

I cannot imagine how human manufactured lighting or humans themselves help against Red-tailed Hawk predators in Ohio or anywhere else at all.