Monday, June 16, 2014

As it happens-- Stella Hamilton Finds Pale Male's Fledglings Near the Great Arch in Central Park

 Photo by Stella Hamilton

 Stella has done it again.  She's tracked down Pale Male and Octavia's fledglings over near the Great Arch.

5:53PM  Fledgling attempts to catch a squirrel in a tree.

One of the first lessons Central Park Fledglings learn is that they can't catch a squirrel in a tree.  I've never even seen an experienced Red-tail working solo nab a squirrel in a tree.  The squirrel just scuttles to the other side of the trunk or if on a branch he zips under the branch when the hawk attempts to grab him.  Youngsters have to learn that a squirrel has to be on the ground to get caught.  

Experienced hawks use stealth.  They sit and wait for a squirrel to go to ground and that's when they swoop in.

 Photo by Stella Hamilton
6:08PM Two of the Fledglings look for scraps.

While waiting for dad to "bring the bacon" most often these days a squirrel or a rat, the youngsters look for scraps and or mimic the killing of mock prey. The "play" of all young predators develops their hunting skills.  Young Red-tails leap onto sticks or good sized rocks, grasp them in their talons, then jump up and down with them which is really quite hilarious, and then "kill" the stick or rock. 

6:16PM  Up in a tree, the third eyass looks to the sky for a delivery.  Dad where are you?

Currently Pale Male will be making regular deliveries of prey to the youngstersAs time goes on the intervals between meals will lengthen as the hawk parents help their progeny to develop hunting skills by bringing on an edge of hunger between food drops.

7:29PM Fledgling finds water in a depression of a branch and drinks it.

Obviously on the nest, eyasses receive all their water needs from the prey they eat. 

In fact when I first started watching Red-tails there was no information in the scientific literature as to whether or not Red-tailed Hawks drank water or even  bathed.

Central Park Hawkwatchers with their multiple and far more intimate observations of human habituated Red-tails as opposed to scientists who tended toward population counting and the like,   saw both these activities but as they weren't of name so were not believed in some circles.  Then Ann Shanahan, long time wildlife watcher and photographer in Central Park got photographs of both activities.  

Score a big one for the citizen scientist!

More as it happens.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

I love your phrase "they weren't of name." It is perfect. And they didn't have PhDs in ornithology.
Academics have gone way too above their station.


sally said...

YAY thanks for the report!
Any word on how the Cathedral Fledglings are doing and how Norman is coming along?