Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Pale Male Sunday Update from Stella Hamilton! Frannie The Sand Hill Crane or Was It Her Mate? And the Birds at the Bywater!

 Photo courtesy of palemale.com  
 The flapping has started though the hopping is mostly yet to come.


A few of us, including some from the "new generation" of hawkwatchers gathered at Hawkbench this past Sunday to watch Pale Male , Octavia and the three babies . They had a big audience.  Some looking through binoculars , but most looked through the Stellascope.  I just love to watch the expression on people's faces when they see a hawk on the nest with their babies for the first time . 

Come on you know that look ." Oh wow!" 
Followed by a jaw drop?

One of the highlights of the afternoon was sometime around 5pm , when  Pale Male chased an egret away from the nest . The Egret headed toward the Ramble and both he and Pale Male disappeared for a minute . We later saw Pale Male emerge from the Ramble , being chased by a kestrel . So that chase went on for about 5 minutes , with Pale Male being dive bombed on his royal blond head every few seconds by the kestrel . Then it was quiet again . 

Octavia had been pretty active herself.  Stretching  her wings and kiting above us as if she simply wanted to have fun . Both she and Pale Male would disappear for a while, leaving the nest and the kids seemingly unattended .

 I wondered if we would see a feeding ? Sure enough about 15 minutes past 7, Pale Male flew around the tree tops on 5 th Ave  with a massive partially eaten rat . It was so huge he looked as if he was having a hard time taking it to nest ! Octavia had positioned herself on a corner of the "Linda Building" as if ready to assist .  So Palemale flew with it over the trees , then to one of the lower corner balconies of the "Dr. Fisher Building" , then to "Woody Allen Building", then finally to nest!  Boy , did we all cheer !  Octavia followed right behind him, and started to pull meat to feed to the babies . 

So glad we waited. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Many thanks Stella! Keep them coming!

Next Up, Checking in with Frannie the Sandhill Crane

As many of you will remember Frannie is sitting on a nest atop a dry spot in small pond.
 But when I went to check on her on Sunday, something was odd.  I couldn't put my finger on it at the time but note her head is at a slightly different angle than usual and her body appears bigger and maybe flatter somehow?
After further scrutiny I decided this might not be Franny at all but rather her mate.   Or perhaps  there are colts under her which make her body look different?

Hmmm, maybe if I go away I can sneak another look later and look for more clues as to what may be different today. So I decided to walk a short distance to the bridge which spans a bywater of the Sugar River as there appeared to be dozens of swallows zipping around at major speed.

And zip they did. 
 There were several Tree Swallows.
 And even more Cliff Swallows, identified by the head patch and the rump patch when she swerved past.

Also in the mix, there were migrating warblers. 

A Yellow-rumped Warbler

See.   He actually does have a yellow rump.
Not to be confused with a Yellow Warbler, which has a yellow everything.
 Plus the day brought,
A pair of conversing Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.
 Plus at the banding station, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, for those who have never seen one.

But what about Frannie/or her mate you ask?
 While I was attempting to photograph Warblers and Swallows, she/he watched, head up, the whole time.

Then when  I drove past, turned around and came back I could see she was standing up looking down.  But in a nanosecond, she plopped back onto the nest before I could get a look at anything. 

 Well, maybe next time.

And last but not least the little pale mystery bird.

When I first pull into the driveway, I always scan the trees for the Cooper's Hawk and check what is up at the northside bird feeder.  From my position I was looking at a three quarter view of the feeder, back and side.  Well see was spraying everywhere and the House Sparrows were being chased off the feeder, by a bird I could not see.  So I got out of the car and quietly tried to get to the other side of the feeder.

I got to the other side of the feeder and the seed quit spewing out and a pale sparrow sized bird flew to the far side onto the fence.  When I turned back this bird was sitting looking at me.
Anybody have a guess?  

Bottom bill appears to be at least partially yellow.  The little of the wing that can be seen appears to have more pigment than the front of the bird and there might be a ghost of a white throat there as well.  



Karen Anne said...

Bird with an unusual amount of white for their species? I know that isn't called albino, but I forget what it is called

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Karen Anne,

Is leucism the word you're looking for? In this case perhaps as the bird is beige rather than stark white in patches it is the form of leucism in which the amount of pigment deposited in the feathers is reduced overall. I think you could well be right.