Thursday, June 04, 2015

Pale Male, Octavia, and the Birds...It Was All Planned!

Because there was a Corporate Challenge foot race today, lots of pedestrian barriers in Central Park, it was quite the challenge getting to the Hawk Bench.  Instead of coming down the path directly across from 927 from the West as I usually do, I had to come in from the South.  And what should I see?  Pale Male flying South, North of Woody Allen.   And not only that...
 3:28:34PM  Look carefully and you will see that Pale Male is being mobbed by any number of smaller birds.  See all the little black specks?

 Here's another crop.  PM is way down at the bottom edge in the forefront of a lot of really angry passerines.  
 Is part of the reason Pale Male is coming in this direction with the mob of birds because he is leading them past the nest to show the eyasses this particular hunting technique?  I think that the teaching of hunting techniques starts before the eyasses even leave the nest.

.With no more interesting parental flights the eyasses settle into the nest.  Well sort of settle.  The oldest eyass tends to be looking for action most of the time.
With the other two eyasses occupied, Little feels safe enough to pop up.  Little being so much smaller than the other two, he appears to be learning how to be a stealth hawk like his father.

4:00:00 Time passes.  Suddenly everyone looks up. Then it is back to eyass business.
  Large enjoys a good tussle.  One of the reasons Little keeps such a low profile.
 Something happens of interest, taking Large's focus and Medium goes limp.  One of the ways to possibly get Large to leave her alone.  (Little uses it all the time.)  
 It doesn't work for Medium.  Large just buffets Medium a little with her wings.  Still no wrestling from Medium.
So Large stands on Medium.  See Medium's head under Large's body?
Large gets bored with standing on Medium when she doesn't react so gets off her.  Then something attracts everyone's attention.
Large goes over and "menaces" Medium.  When that doesn't get any desired action....
Little keeps his head down.  Nobody is being any "fun" so Large goes over and digs around in the scrap pile.  The last hold out on the Bench leaves.
The scolding had been going on for awhile but it escalates and eventually the noise of so many infuriated birds takes my focus from the nest.  Remember the last time we saw Pale Male he had a flock of birds chasing him.   It goes on and on and finally I have to go down there and look.  I pick up my stuff and start to go toward the copse of trees...
 5:15:43PM Suddenly two raptors appear.   An intruder?  I take the second bird to be Pale Male. Wait the other bird is going to hit the Fisher building!  No!  And I'm the only one at the Hawk Bench!
 The first bird turns at the absolute last second.  I about have a heart attack!  I am shooting rapid fire on autofocus beyond the capability of my lens so the pictures have come out rather strange.  I'm not all together sure what exactly happened here.   
My current thought is that is Pale Male in the lead and Octavia flying in second.  I know the lead bird possibly looks bigger but it is in the foreground.  And  it appears to be carrying something.  They curve around and start to cross Fisher
They cross Fisher, cross the street, and get to Linda. The lead bird does appear to be Pale Male. The rapid fire burst is over.  A take a few seconds to readjust the camera and go again.
5:15:49  Pale Male, carrying prey, has taken a curve back (lower right) and Octavia is above the roof.
The prey is a bird. The next picture may be a bit grisly for some.  If feeling sensitive...skip it.
It is a Blue Jay.  Remember how Pale Male just kept sitting there letting them attack did Octavia?  They
 lured them into a sense of over-confidence and then they nabbed one.  It took teamwork on their part...and crafty stealth.  Blue Jays are smart but with rather bad tempers and it was the temper that likely got them into trouble.  Pale Male hasn't  lasted this long by living on emotion.  He calculates.

I'm assuming that Octavia allowed herself to be attacked within those trees.  And Pale Male used the cover for a stealth attack from out of "nowhere" and nabbed a jay.  Then they both took off at hyper speed. 

I hadn't seen Pale Male since 3:38 on my very first view of the area for the day.   And I hadn't seen Octavia at all since my arrival.   Both hawks had been under cover for nearly two hours.  Everyone else had already left the Hawk Bench as "nothing was going on" so I think I may have been the only one to see this particular interaction unless there was another watcher at a different location.

Happy Hawking!  And remember even if it looks like nothing is going on...something probably IS going on. 

Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Who almost hit the building? Pale Male? Octavia? Someone else???

Donegal Browne said...

Hello Karen Anne, grand to hear from you. It was Pale Male who got so close to the building before he made a heart stopping deft right turn. At first I was completely confused as the two hawks were flying at such an incredible speed I thought it must be an intruder that was being chased. But then I realized that the pair had just run a successful double hunt and were heading out of Dodge before the angry passerines could drill them in the head. I'm also not completely sure what happened to that particular piece of prey. We could see that Pale Male was carrying prey. As to whether Octavia also had some, I don't know for sure. Less likely but not impossible. Octavia did feed upon her arrival but that food may have already been in the nest. Octavia was seen coming into the nest 2 seconds after Pale Male disappeared. It is possible that he pitched her the prey in the air because he didn't land it himself and she fed after she reached the nest. Or he may have cached it for later...or had a meal himself.