Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Can Isolde Possibly Feed and Care for Three Fledglings Without Norman? (Third post of the day.)

Photo by Robert Schmunk
                        Isolde monitors the situation.

I have received any number of emails from people extremely concerned about how Isolde, the formel at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine nest, will be able to feed and keep watch over her three newly fledged youngsters without her mate Storm'n Norman to help.  

Norman is currently in rehab with the Horvaths and will continue to be for 5 or 6 more days.

First off  let me say, the world is a dangerous place.  And sometimes bad things happen to young hawks even with both parents in attendance.

That said, barring bad luck, of any formel in the city Isolde is probably one of the females best equipped to pick up the slack of caring for her young without the help of her mate for a week.

How's that?

   Photograph by Donegal Browne
 Tristan, left,  and Isolde, right, in 2007-A comparison of size.

First off Isolde is a very very big girl.  

Tristan, thought to be Pale Male's son, was about Pale Male's size and Pale Male doesn't look all that much smaller than his mates, right?

Well look at the difference in size between Tristan and Isolde.  

Isolde is a very large, very strong Red-tailed Hawk.

We don't know Isolde's age exactly but she is over ten years old.  She is in her prime physically.

Isolde is an extremely competent huntress.  Back in the day when she first took Norman on, occasionally while she was sitting the eggs, he'd show up his crop stuffed to maximum size to "guard the nest" without bringing Isolde a meal.  She would give him the dirtiest of looks,  fling herself off the nest and into the air to hunt for her own supper.

Norman being a young dope, would look stunned and confused. His job was guarding the nest, repelling invaders, duking it out with all comers.  Whatever was Isolde doing?  He'd look at the nest and then look at Isolde flying away.

What to do?  Eventually he'd decide he was supposed to sit on the eggs.

And before long, Isolde would return having hunted for herself and eaten in no time at all so she could return to the nest and make sure Norman wasn't screwing up somehow yet again.

But, you ask, just how is Isolde going to hunt for four?  

Isolde is an extremely competent and skillful huntress.  She knows how to get down to business.

One of the things an experienced formel does while sitting up there on the nest day after day, hour after hour, is, she watches prey patterns.  She knows who goes where and when and how.  She has thousands of images of prey patterns all neatly filed in her head to be used in hunting once she is back in the game and hunting for the fledglings.

Isolde will be using that information to good effect for the next week and thereafter.

Isolde also knows her territory inside out.  She's been there for years and years and years. 

 She also knows where the fledglings will likely be at any given stage of their development.  

Plus Gabriel on top of the Cathedral is one of the absolute best hawk perches in the city to see anything she cares to.  

To say nothing of all the levels available  by using the other extant perches on the  Cathedral to watch prey and the kids both.

Besides as one reader pointed out....
Photo by Donegal Browne
You never know.  There just might be the spirit of a fierce indomitable little hawk called Tristan, to help her out in a pinch.

(This is the third post today. Keep scrolling down if you haven't caught them all.)

Happy Hawking...
Donegal Browne
P.S.  Samantha informs me she is heading uptown today to check on Isolde and the little ones just to make sure all is going as it should.

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