Monday, June 22, 2015

Little Finally Makes the Big Jump, the Fledglings Roost and...First, Why Is That Frog Stuck to My Window, and Second, why the Yellow Legs?

 Little, pre-fledge, with what appears to be a feather stuck to his beak, stands taking in the action from his prime view on 927 Fifth Avenue.

Stella Hamilton reports that "Little", the third eyass, fledged today, Sunday.  She sent me a text at 5:27PM...

3rd baby fledged unobserved and is currently on tree  behind the men's room of The Boat House.

And when it came time for the fledglings to roost , Stella caught them all on their way...

 Fledgling 1 headed to Pilgrim Hill to roost.
 Fledgling 2 headed to Pilgrim Hill to roost.
Fledgling 3 headed for Pilgrim Hill to roost.

                            Courtesy CentralParkNYC

And here we have the East and North faces of Pilgrim Hill.

 Pilgrim Hill is south of the Conservatory Water. (Model Boat Pond)  

Tangent alert: This hill is used when it snows as the premier sledding hill with public access right smack in the middle of Manhattan.

But in late June it is often the spot where the fledglings sleep at night.   I've assumed that a possible parental reason for using this spot is, yes,  the numerous trees, but there are plenty of those spots in Central Park but also if a parent hawk is high in a taller tree on top of tall Pilgrim Hill the view of flight paths to the kids would be spectacular.  And  flighted predators, say a Great Horned Owl, could be conceivably lit by city lights at which time their great advantage of surprise in the dark would be lost.

By the way, a tidbit I've not mentioned for some time, did you know that Pale Male always chooses a branch in which to sleep that has another branch directly above his head.  That way if caught napping the flighted predator can't just drill him in the skull as the upper branch is in the way of a dive.  I don't know if this is common practice among Red-tails or whether this is a Pale Male thing which he teaches to his mates and fledglings.  

How did this piece of arcane minutia come up?  When original Pale Male watcher and author of  Red-tails In Love,  Marie Winn, was writing  Central Park In The Dark,  she and I  would  follow Pale Male to discover his roosts in the evening.

Still more episodes from this Central Park nesting season will be coming your way, but in the meantime....

Last night  I walked into the laundry room and once again as I had a year or two ago I saw...a tree frog was using her finger and toe suckers to stick to my lighted insect attracting laundry room window for a little night hunting.

Here's a confession.   The tree frog looks rather big in the picture,  she isn't.   I gave her more size in the photo so details would be easier to see.  She is really only about an inch and a half long.

Having seen the tree frog and photographed the tree frog I began the big search as to just what kind of tree frog this might be.  I thought those yellow legs, hey, hey, easy ID.   In this case not happening unless I have a handy dandy noninvasive portable chromosome counter or a cordless frog mic.  I don't have either.  

What's wrong with me?

In the Eastern United States....but not in the bulk of  Maine or Florida, there are two possible tree frog species to which this cutie could belong. She could be the Gray Tree Frog,  Hyla versicolor  or Cope's Gray Tree Frog, Hyla chrysoscelis.   So far their morphology looks to be identical so no hope there as to species but if you can count chromosomes or compare their vocalizations you'll have it.  

Mine wasn't saying anything at all.

Now the cool thing about these little guys is that they change color depending on what they are sitting on.  Takes about a half hour....but hey,  they have time.  I did note, much to my disappointment, that frog did not become transparent like the window glass she was sitting on.  But then again life sometime just fails to be a Harry Potter book.

Sigh.  But the light patch under tree frog's eye  wasn't white, it was beige so in some camps it is believed that males have a white spot and the females under eye spot is more pigmented.  Note in the photo that spot isn't white.  Well we figured something out anyway.  Hooorah for us.

Also as to the species issue, in Wisconsin the two species share the same breeding pools so there is hybridization...

And people think science is cut and dried, utterly black and white...not when it comes to life forms it isn't,  because life forms aren't.

And by the way there is a current, and rather heated argument going on as to whether it should be Tree Frog or Treefrog.

Never a dull moment!

Happy Hawking or Treefrogging!
Donegal Browne

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