Friday, May 23, 2014

Pale Male and Octavia Update, Big Red at Cornell, Cattle,Geese and Cranes!

Photo courtesy of

Hawkwatcher Anna Beth with a Fifth Avenue update!

I knew I would not be able to stay for hours today but I had very lucky timing.  I'd just begun to look at the nest with my binoculars when Pale Male flew in from the north to deliver a meal, a pigeon.  The eyasses perked up and watched him come in and Octavia got down to work feeding.  There wasn't a picky eater in  the group!

Next Up from Ann Feldman of Cornell via the Franklin Hawkaholics Facebook page, she said...
No, Big Red at Cornell is not wearing a ball skirt...those are her (big) babies with their heads tucked under her.

Once again today I went out attempting to see some Sandhill Cranes with colts.  

I started out searching the conservation set aside wetland with the  pond near where the crane nest had been complete with a guard gander.  Well the goose was in place but not a crane or even a crane head in sight.  I then went down to the next section of land...more of a grassy meadow if a touch wet.

 OH MY!  It isn't a grassy meadow.  It has turned into a pasture.  Note the fresh grass.  Yesterday and since early Spring there has not been a bovine in sight.  But today?  There is a big red steer with some of his friends down the hill.  Wow!  But still not a crane in sight.  I walk up and down the rural road for an hour and a half, checking both sections of land.  Not a crane in sight.  

Magnolia Warbler...that was nice.  Lot's of testosterone filled Red-winged cranes.

Which gets me to thinking.  Red-wing Blackbirds are very common in this area and particularly in this kind of habitat.  there is a male Red-wing sitting atop a stalk or whatever about every 20 feet in marshy areas guarding his territory and his nest, but when is the last time I saw a female Redwing.  They are very reclusive.  I realize I've perhaps only seen a female once and there has to be a female for every male as the nest at this time of year is what the male is guarding. 

That said, I get probably 20 Red-wing males at my feeders on any given day...but no moms.  Okay, when the guys are at my feeder who is guarding the territory and the nest?

Just then a bird does a fly-by very close to my head screeching at me in no uncertain terms and lands on a nearby fence.  Yikes!  Guess who?
It appears to be Mom Red-wing who is giving me grief. Talk about synchronicity. She looks like she's going to come at me again, she's quivering she is so angry.    I walk backwards toward the road before snapping her picture.

Then I hear the male calling as he lands in a tree nearly over my head his tail cocking up and down. 
Geez, I'm going.  I'm going.  You were just at my birdfeeder weren't you?  

He is not currently grateful at all.
I walk back to the car, pack up my gear, and drive home which isn't really that far away...maybe a quarter mile.  But still a disappointing day...well except the Red-wing interlude.  That was exciting. 

I turn into the driveway and start unloading my cameras.  My cell rings.  It's another crane watcher,  Mike has just arrived and the Sandhills are striding around the newly-become-cattle-pasture like they've been doing it all afternoon. 


I shove my stuff back into the car, jump in after it, and take off again.

 There they are.  Strolling across the back of the pasture trolling for tasty bits.
As the cranes get closer to the cows the female goes down into the little creek bed and the male stands guard keeping an eye on the cows.
Mike having grown up on a farm, reminds me those are not cows.  Those are cattle.  Right.  No big udders.  Cattle.
  I am then distracted by the cattle...okay what is one of these not cows?  A steer.  Ahhh.  Okay one of the steers has sauntered into the gander pond.  For weeks these guys have been hanging out at this little pond.  I don't know if there weren't enough female geese to go around or perhaps all their nests were nearby, at any rate they've all been standing around the pond for weeks doing  nothing much but standing there, at least while I was around.  I suppose they get back to poker and cigars after I leave.  

At any rate this steer is now in their pond and everyone of their eyes is on him.

Evidently the collective stare works as steer decides to get out of the pond and go hang with the others.
That's when I look at the others and the "others" are all pretty much looking at me.  Wow. 


Mike says, they're curious.  If you stand at the fence they'll likely come all the way over to you.


I stare back.  It is then that I realize that even though they are all the same variety they actually look different from each other.
The guy on the left it the kind of guy who is always in need of nap while the one on the far right has just whispered  to the one in the center,  "You do realize she has the same color hair as we do."  And center guy, Says "...Right.."

I'm brought out of my imaginary cattle "Baw, baw, baaaaawl...."

Littlest calf has lifted his tail and his voice and is frolicking.  In fact while the older steers were discussing hair color the little guys have started to rough house. 
 Wait a minute...where are the cranes?
The cranes are still meandering along the little stream and the sun is getting low.   It's time to go.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring if you keep your eyes open?

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne
P.S. Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot, decided to land on my head again today in the laundry room, we may not be quite out of the woods yet.

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