Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Joy of a Pair Of Bonded Red-tailed Hawks

4:23:00 All times PM
Though Eagles are certainly interesting, and in actuality I'm currently going to see if anyone is home, or at least visible at the Albany Bald Eagle nest,  I've been yearning for a Red-tailed Hawk nest to watch on a day to day basis.  One that isn't too far so I can just run over when I have a few minutes.   And look what is flying down the road in front of me and about to curve round the trees to the left.  See her against the snow?
4:23:01  I was attempting to get one more shot of the Red-tail when she curved round the tree to the left but just now when I brought this picture up, shot one second after the previous one, there is a Red-tail on this side of the trees.  That was fast.  

A different Red-tail?

When I get even with  the corner trees she's up on a branch having a snack.
4:23:57  She's off again and seems to have very pale under wings and belly.

4:23:58 Is she looking over her shoulder or just going into a turn?
4:23:58  Then into the thick of it. See her right of center. This bird can fly.
4:24:03  She ditched me. 
4:24:33 Where is she now?  (In some ways hawkwatching amongst buildings is easier.)
4:24:35  Wait!  What's that white dot? 
  I know, with all the snow, which white dot?
Actually there are two white dots of significance.  Look just right of center and about one third up from the bottom.  Two white dots that are actually the fronts of two  Red-tailed Hawks.
There they are.  Sitting in quite close proximity on a branch.  And as they're doing it amiably I would take them as a bonded pair.

(This is one of those moments when I wonder just what those looks at each other mean.)  Would you agree that the hawk on the right is of smaller stature and perhaps the male?  

Part 2 of making a quess at the sex of Red-tails is looking at their heads.  Most hawkwatchers agree there is a difference but exactly how it is enunciated can vary wildly.  Francois Portmann, longtime NYC hawkwatcher and incredible wildlife photographer, said one day while reflecting on the issue, "The females look hawkier." 

And so they do.  Look up at the photograph.  Does the head of the bird on the left look hawkier than the bird's head on the right?  I think it does.

4 25 36  A flying hawk is past center to the left and about half way up the frame.  And at this point I'm not sure which one it is.  
4 25 36   I've cropped off the right section of the above photo.  See the hawk now? 

 4 25 37  The Hawk keeps flying following the curve in the trees.

Crop of the photo directly above.  
 The hawk is to the right but something I didn't see in the field at the time is to the left.  See the blob in the tree at about the same level as the hawk?   Yes it could be a squirrel's dray but I'd be ever so much happier if it were the pair's nest.
 This is where I attempt to convince myself that  there is hope it is a nest.  Squirrel drays are more likely found further out from the trunk of a tree.  This is in a Red-tail traditional nest spot; the space that is created where multiple branches originate.
I'm going to try and find the spot tomorrow.
 4 26 06 As there is nearly a 30 second lapse between the last photo  and this one and I was using a zoom lens,  I suspect I was shooting blind without knowing where either hawk was by his time but in hope I'd find one once I could bring up the photographs and scrutinize them.  I was right. There is a hawk  there.  
The top and bottom of the photograph above have been cropped off.  I didn't want to crop off too much as it would be hard for you to orient and compare with the original.  See the hawk yet?  He is exquisitely tiny in the shot.

This is the top right quadrant of  the cropped picture directly above.  Now you'll be able to see him for sure.  He is in the bottom left quadrant of this picture.  Just slightly right and down from what looks like an old power box on a tree.  Yes, I think this is the male.  Though the hawk in the photo with the enticing blob in the tree may have been the female.  They are  double teaming me like crazy.  Then he's off again and leading me further from the area where we last saw the female and  the possible nest.

4:26:45  Another new perch
A better look and definitely the tiercelThen he takes off and is gone. 
 (Anyone have a theory about what is going on with his tail?) 

Though now I may have time to get to the Albany Bald Eagle nest to see if anyone is at home before it gets too dark.

The Albany Eagle Nest: There is nothing visible above the lip of the nest and though I wait a bit no eagle  appears.  I decide to travel the  perimeter of these woods as much as I can to see if I can spot the Eagles going about their business elsewhere.

This Red-tail, a much darker hawk than the previous two,  was spotted about a mile from the Eagle's nest.  I've looked but haven't found an answer to my question yet.  Does anyone know what  the toleration distance might be between a Bald Eagle nest and one of Red-tailed Hawks?

And the last Red-tail sighting of the name.   I was going over a small overpass  when  a Red-tail flushed from beneath it, quite startling both of us.  When I looked over the embankment, there was a deer carcass.  That Red-tail won't have to be worrying about where his next meal is coming from for awhile.

Happy Hawking!


Sally said...

YAY! You seem to have found your own Wisconsin Pale Male and female :) At least their breasts are pale. I wish I knew about hawk and eagle nests but i do not. I cannot recall any eagle nest watchers posting comments or pictures of Red-tails, too. Look forward to seeing more!

Sally said...

YAY! You seem to have found your own Wisconsin Pale Male and female :) At least their breasts are pale. I wish I knew about hawk and eagle nests but i do not. I cannot recall any eagle nest watchers posting comments or pictures of Red-tails, too. Look forward to seeing more!

Anonymous said...

Sally We agree that it's a pleasure to have a variety of whatever the happenings of the day might be. More like being there yourself. No day is ever the same when you go looking for wild critters so why have the same topic everyday? Stay open! Love the variety.

Abby and James