Friday, June 26, 2015


 Sheep Meadow Dad on duty watching the nest.

With so many New York City Red-tailed hawks and so little time to observe, chronicle, and blog their activities every day, some great stuff gets left in the archives unseen.  So in honor of the fledging of the Sheep Meadow Three, hawkwatcher Brenda Alty reports all three have made the leap to the ground and back up again, a flashback to the days when the little guys had just begun to learn flapping and were visited by an illegal  dog.  The Sheep Meadow is one of the few places in Central Park where dogs are not allowed.  Conceivably one of the selling points of this particular nest site.

So.... it is a little after 1PM on a Saturday.  A beautiful day and the Sheep Meadow is packed with people, picnicking,  playing Frisbee, playing catch, sunbathing, flirting, watching hawks...welcome to New York.

And Sheep Meadow Dad is in charge of the three eyasses. 

I'd just taken a picture of Dad when I hear scratching on the tree next to be, a matter of feet from where Dad and the nest are located.  I look up.
 Oh dear!  There is a squirrel nest right next to the Red-tailed Hawk nest.
 Are these young squirrels playing...
 Or is that Mom trying to keep a mature brood inside and out of sight? It looks more like play.  Gulp.  Then I look up to see what Dad Sheep Meadow is doing.
He seems to be looking at the squirrels. Then I remember a concept that we haven't talking about it some years on the blog.  The no kill zone around a Red-tailed Hawk nest.  I'd been seeing two Mourning Doves which sat quite close to the Trump Park Nest of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte, as well as two doves who liked to sit on one of the railings of the Woody building on Fifth Avenue which is also near the nest.  

John Blakeman, the Red-Tailed Hawk expert, explained that there is a no kill zone around  Red-tailed Hawk Nests.  They don't kill anything within a certain invisible zone around the nest.  

Think about it.  It does make sense.  The rate of speed in which a Red-tail makes a kill is instinctual.  They may have considered various possible ways to go about it beforehand or at times prey just pops them into kill mode and they go for it.  It at least appears to be faster than thought.  Zap.  You're dead.  That would be a very bad thing to happen around a nest full of eyasses.  So buried in their DNA is an off switch which precludes that automatic kill response on and near nests.

Perhaps these squirrels are safe.  That is until they cross the invisible line where the kill factor comes into play.
When I look back at Dad he's back to nest watch.
The eyasses are getting active.
About then, Tahj one of the youngest of the hawk watchers, he's 14 or so and about to enter high school, comes over and asks if I know about the Peregrines nesting on the building way over there.  He points...there.  The two buildings that look kind of alike?  The one on the left.  See the little spot.  I didn't.  As it turns out I was looking at the wrong part of the building.
 But when I just brought the photos up, I do see it.  Thanks Tahj!
 See the Peregrine sitting on the "roof" of the bottom left set of multiple windows?
 In the meantime Dad is watching things or the same thing in the sky as it moves.  It could be Mrs. Sheep Meadow.  It could be other birds flying by.
 It could be prey.
 It could be people playing volleyball.
 It could be Mom.
1:47PM And now it is very likely his progeny in the nest.

I decide it is time to get over to Pale Male and Octavia's nest.

And if you missed what I saw that day over at 927 with Octavia and Pale Male here's the link.

Octavia Gives the Eyasses an Unbelievable Flying Lesson

At 6:08PM   After watching all the spectacular flying over at 927 I decide to make it an early night as I have over 600 pictures to go through to put up the blog.  I start walking west and as usual decide to stop in for a second look with the Sheep Meadow family.  Then I notice the pigeons foraging in the grass...
 The pigeons, Columba livia, do of course occasionally forage in the grass but when you see a whole flock eating as fast as they can as obviously food is everywhere in the grass you look up.  Because above them...
...will be an American Elm Tree.  Central Park is the only place in the world where you can see lots of American Elm Trees.  Outside the Park you more than likely will never see any.  Why?  Because when Dutch Elm Disease struck, New Yorkers decided  they didn't want to loose their American Elm Trees so the money rolled in and they pumped gallons and gallons of  anti-Dutch Elm Disease liquid into the ground and saved the trees.
See all those little round seeds?  During the season thousands upon thousands of them are eaten by many different species of birds and animals.  And important wildlife food resource which as disappeared from most of the world.

(Please forgive the underlining.  Periodically Blogger just decides it wants to underline and there is nothing I can do about it. Shrug.)

Before long I'm back to the Sheep Meadow...
...and Mom is standing on the nest.  Is it time for a feeding perhaps?  What luck!
Seems whenever I shift, she shifts to keep the eyasses out of my view as much as possible.  Understandable.
Two eyasses peer at me while the third gets a bite.
     Is that an eyass talon just left of Mom's leg?
Mom gives me a look.  I'm not close as I'm using a long lens but I decide to switch positions.
                This angle isn't exactly optimum.
Nor this one.

                                Three white heads!
                See the eyass standing on the right?
                   Mom is a rather dark faced Redtail.
Look how the eyasses back feathers blend with the colors of the nesting materials.
Anyone up to taking a guess as to the prey in question.  It is late in the day and the fur appears grey.  I'm currently tentatively guessing it is a rat.
       Careful bite placement....                                       
Yummy!  And just in case it drops out the next guy is in position.
What are Mom and eyass looking at?  

I keep almost calling this formel Isolde.  It is just that she is a dark formel with large eyes.  It isn't Isolde. 

And on that note as it is 5AM, I'm going to bed. 
More to come, we haven't even gotten to the dog yet.... DB


Sally said...

LOVE keeping up with your blog reports on the CYP hawks! On the "no-kill zone" theory, I do know that the Cornell Hawks have killed at least once, I am thinking twice, starlings ON the nest platform where their eyases were, I am seeking someone from that forum who remembers or can point me to the details of the events. I remember thinking that was odd behavior. I also wonder WHY sparrows nest in our hawk mews? Every once in a while we find evidence of a capture but for the most part the hawks ignore them.

Donegal Browne said...

Fascinating Sally about the Starlings...I'm wondering as they were on the platform if the no kill policy doesn't count "on nest", i.e. these are "intruders" and therefore must be killed? Possible.