Saturday, April 26, 2008

Urban Hawk Updates: Today's Eyass Reports as They Come In.

Red-Tail Hawk Madonna and Child by Robert B. Schmunk
Rob caught this lovely intimate moment at the Inwood nest. An eyass stretches up towards her mother and the formel looks down at her little one.
For more of Rob's adventures, his report should be up very soon, go to --
Stay tuned for additions!

Eyasses Confirmed at Highbridge, Inwood, Riverside, and Houston!

The hawk watching corp has been out today and there is news of eyasses from just about everywhere!

Stay tuned for more info and links!

Donegal Browne

Nijmegen Peregrine Falcon Feeds Three, and Bullfrogs in the Gill

A lovely screen capture from Karen Anne Kolling of the Peregrine Falcon feeding three gorgeous little eyasses.

Eleanor Tauber photographs the gorgeous Gill in Central Park and discovers...

Bullfrogs! Who knew?

And here's a second. As it turns out American Bullfrogs, a member of the family Ranidae, are the largest true frogs in North America. As it also turns out Bullfrog populations are booming and becoming rather a worry.

American Bullfrog habitat was originally in North America east of the Rockies. Well, in 1898 California had a yen for frog legs and they imported them to California, then to Asia, and there we go. Whilst east of the Rockies, Bullfrog predators such as certain big snakes and alligators for example enjoy a tasty bullfrog and fish love the tadpoles, in other parts of the world those predators aren't around. So the Bullfrog populations are decimating local snake and native frog populations.

Like the European Starlings which are severely affecting native species here, American Bullfrogs are wreaking havoc elsewhere.

If you'd like to hear what Bullfrogs sound like, here's a place that will give you an ear full.
From long time Central Park Hawk Watcher and man about town Kentaurian, an announcement of a Central Park Celebration--

Volume XXIII, Number 4694Thursday, April 24, 2008

Celebrating Greensward: The Plan For Central Park

On April 28, New York City will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the design for Central Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park today is one of America’s most important works of art and a treasured New York landmark.

On April 28, 1858, the Board of Commissioners of Central Park chose the Greensward plan submitted by Olmsted and Vaux. In honor of this anniversary, the Central Park Conservancy and the Parks Department are planning a series of public events and activities.

Commemorative events and activities include: •

“Creating Central Park” panel discussion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Saturday, April 26, 2:30 p.m.•

“Celebrating Greensward” exhibition in the Arsenal Gallery: April 23 through June 19•

Behind-the-Scenes free walking tours of Central Park led by Central Park Conservancy staff: Sunday, April 27, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.•

Renaming the 72nd Street Cross Drive as “Olmsted & Vaux Way” at an unveiling ceremony at Bethesda Terrace on Monday, April 28 at 11:30 a.m.

The story of Central Park’s design begins with a young British architect, Calvert Vaux, who moved to America in 1850 to create homes and estates for the Hudson River clientele of landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing had promoted the idea of a large New York City park in his magazine, The Horticulturalist.

After the accidental death of Downing, Vaux moved to New York City to establish his architectural practice. The Bank of New York played a crucial role in the design of Central Park, when Bank Director John A.C. Gray, on the advice of Calvert Vaux, convinced fellow Park Commissioners to hold a design competition for the Park.

In honor of this historic connection, The Bank of New York Mellon will support some of the events and activities during the anniversary celebration.

Vaux approached Park Superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted to enter the design competition with him. Their winning design plan was named “Greensward,” comes from the English term for “unbroken stretch of turf or lawn,” and was seen as innovative and visionary, something they knew had never been seen before.

The massive landscape of the Park is entirely man-made with the exception of the rock cutouts seen throughout the Park. The majority of the large meadows within the park were created by draining the swamp and filling them with tens of thousands of cartloads of soil. The lakes within the Park were filled by the same running water that fills the bathtubs and kitchens sinks throughout New York City.

Today, Olmsted and Vaux are considered to be the founders of the profession of landscape architecture in America. One of the principal reasons why the Greensward plan won the competition was its unique approach to addressing the need for at least four east/west traffic crossings.

Ahead of their time, Olmsted and Vaux proposed to sink these transverse roads. This technological innovation--combined with strategically placed vegetation--creatively screens out the cross-town traffic from public view, freeing Park visitors of the noise and bustle of the City, and creating what the designers’ referred to as “a single work of art.”

When the Greensward plan was selected in 1858, 106th Street was the northern terminus of the future Park, but it was modified in 1863 to add the land up to 110th Street. The landscapes of the Park were completed in 1873.

For additional information on the 150th anniversary of the Greensward design, please visit or

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)
Donegal Browne

Friday, April 25, 2008


On April 22nd, I began to have suspicions that the 79ers, Intrepid and Builder at Riverside had a hatch. See the feeding posture above?

Today I received a call from Neighborhood Hawk Watcher Joe, who took a telescope up to a roof and TA DA! He confirms that there were two eyasses in the nest. And perhaps more, he could only confirm two. Joe also reports that one was slightly grayer than her fluffy white counterpart , but both are near of a size. That says to me that the parents though young are feeding the eyasses equally and well. Once again the prey rich green spaces of New York City come through.

Here is the second possible feeding position observed. The eyasses most likely hatched about a week ago. And note they still aren't visible from the ground.

This is a high walled nest and Builder the tiercel, keeps adding to the rim all the time. In fact Joe says, that one of the parents spyed him looking into the nest and immediately began to raise the rim of the nest that he was looking over with more twigs.

We hope to have photos from the high view by tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Donegal Browne

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Urban Hawks and Peregrine Updates

Mariken of the disputed nestbox and her two new eyasses!
(A report from Eileen further down in the post.)

Lola is still brooding high.

Riverside Dad is quite the careful architect. He is constantly adding to and reweaving the nest.

He carefully pushes a twig.

Sliding it through the other twigs.

Pulls back and pushes again.

A builder's work is never done.

From Falcon Cam watcher Eileen, a Update on the Peregrines with the disputed nestbox--

Good evening Donna-The Peregrine pair at Nijmegen, Mariken & Peter, have their first 2 eyases! This is the nest where the territory battle took place. One egg was apparently damaged in the fight and broke.

There's one more egg to should hatch in the next day or so.

The US Peregrine nests are all coming along as well. James River Bridge in Virginia was early...they hatched 3 eyases a bit over a week ago.

Clara & Carlos on the San Jose City Hall had 3 hatches early this morning-one more to go Eggs are pipping in Cleveland, OH. Mariah & Kaver in Rochester still have a few more weeks to enjoy the Zen of egg-sitting. Still having faith for Pale Male & Lola...Eileen


A quick update on last night's update-all three remaining eggs at Nijmegen have hatched! I caught the attached scene of Mariken feeding her 3 hungry eyases!



A Wisconsin Cottontail Rabbit, who looks to have gone a little heavy with the eyebrow pencil.

Look who's back! I think it's Chipping Dad with the crooked toe, who worked so hard raising his own chicks plus a Cowbird chick at the same time last season.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pale Male Ponders--And so should we. Plus a CCNY Nest Update from Hilary

Pale Male ponders.
In answer to the many variations on the question, "Is there any real sign that Pale Male and Lola have a hatch?"
The answer is no. A definitive sign would be the sighting of feeding motions on the part of Lola by an experienced Hawk Watcher. Something we have not yet seen at the Fifth Avenue nest this season, nor have we seen it the previous three seasons.
The only conclusive proof, would be the sighting of fluffy white heads peeking up over the rim of the nest. Though each day we search, as yet there is nothing.
It occurred to me today, as I pondered the situation that though we do want young hawks to hatch once again on the nest at Fifth Avenue, our wish might well have as much or more to do with our pleasure, than it does with theirs.
I had a realization. Think about it. Raising a clutch of eyasses is hard grueling work. It wears the parents out. They work at top speed from dawn to dusk for months caring for the young. They take more chances, put themselves in danger of accident by flying in all weathers, they brave the specter of infected squirrel bites, and nab more rats. And rats in New York City are, as we know, a game of Poison Roulette.
What if, when attempting to care for their brood Pale Male or Lola had an accident and we lost one of them? Give a thought to never seeing Pale Male soar the skies of New York City ever again. Certainly it will happen someday but would I hasten it with my wishes?
Would I lose one of these hawks in a months time for the pleasure of watching them raise a family? Would you? Of course not.
Therefore even though we yearn for a hatch yet again this season, if there isn't one...?
But having said all that knowing that if there isn't a hatch it puts them in less jeopardy and my disappointment will be lightened by their increased safety, I know that they work tirelessly for a hatch. Therefore my fingers are still firmly crossed and my best hopes go with them.
A few days ago a smiling hawk-watching graduate student, Hilary Solter from uptown, appeared beside the scope at the Hawk Bench. She stayed to watch and after hearing she was often up near the CCNY Nest, in my mind she became an immediate Pale Male Irregular and I pressed her into service. Hilary promised us updates on the CCNY nest. Here is her first offering--
Hi Donna,
I was able to spend some time watching the city college hawks today, a session in the morning and again in the afternoon.
I saw one fly to the nest at about 10:30 a.m., I'm going to assume it was the male, but I can't confirm that. I was down in the park, way below the bluff , the campus is on top of when he arrived, looking up at a very steep angle through a monocular.
I'd been in the park trying to figure out if the male was in any of the trees I'd seen him in before, but I couldn't find him.
So, what did I see... I don't think any prey was carried to the nest, unless it was very small and I missed it. I was fairly sure I could only see one hawk, although since the angle was so terrible, I realize they could have switched places without me seeing it. I could see a tail, then I thought the hawk turned around and was looking around over the park.
Everything happened very quickly - a hawk flew out of the nest and landed nearby on the other side of the tower where the nest is.
If this was an exchange, then maybe it was hungry mom, because I could see "her" looking down on the other side of the building, where there is a nice green lawn and trees full of starlings, squirrels and pigeons.
"She" soon flew off out of my sight and I couldn't see any activity in the nest so I went off to get some work done.When I came back out later in the afternoon around 3:15 p.m., I didn't see anything for quite awhile.
Then I saw what I think was a kestrel soaring over the park, which confused me since it seemed to be asking for trouble being close to the nest. But then I saw what I will assume was the male flying high over the building where the nest is, being marauded by three crows. (I think I mentioned when I met you there are crows that "own" the other side of the building where the nest is, I see them perched up there all the time). The hawk didn't seem particularly fazed, but when one got too close, he swung his talons at the crow. I hadn't seen that "in person" yet, only on film, so that was pretty exciting once I realized he wasn't in any danger - he soared away from them and they broke off pursuit once he cleared the campus. This must have taken place around 4:00 p.m.
The last bit of excitement before I finally tore myself away was mom popped her head up high enough to clear the nest, so I could see her looking out over the park for a few minutes. Then after awhile she turned so her tail was visible. Then her tail sort of bobbed up and down for awhile. Not sure what that was about. This was the first time I'd seen a hawk in the nest (as opposed to flying into/out of it), so another thrill for me.
Kestrels near a hawk or hawk nest is relatively common in the city. Kestrels are plucky little guys and they feel it's their responsibility to give any near-by Red-tails a bit of an hassle every now and again just to make sure the RTs don't get too big for their fluffy britches. They aren't really a danger to the Red-tails as long as everyone is paying attention and for the most part the RTs attempt to ignore them if possible. I have seen Kestrels actually make contact with Pale Male and also with Isolde up at St. John's Cathedral. Isolde will then often just move to a slightly more protected spot. As for the Kestrels, they are extremely quick and rarely get nabbed by the hawks though it can happen if they become too over confident.
Crows on the other hand can be a danger to young hawks who haven't learned the ropes yet. A young Pale Male was once chased into a building by them and ended up with a concussion.
Also at the Cathedral, last season Isolde and Tristan often had to hold off attacks by raiding parties of three Crows while their eyasses were on the nest. Crows are smart and opportunistic. If they could have gotten an eyass it would have become family lunch.
Keep up those observations!
Best, Donna

Pale Male and Lola 4/22/2008

4 30PM Arrival. Not a Red-tail Hawk in sight. The Hawk Bench reports Lola is on the nest and there has been a previous switch sometime before 3PM.
5 05 56 PM Lola's back appears and she does whatever it is she does when we see it.

5 06 47 Lola's head appears, she pants. She then proceeds to sit high,

5 12 09 PM ...preen her wings,

...her tail, and everything else on her body with periodic bouts of looking around.
5 14 36 PM She once again retires to the bowl of the nest and disappears.
5 24 55 PM Pale Male arrives on the nest. No one saw prey being brought in. That does not necessarily mean there wasn't any. We don't know one way or the other. Sometimes one could swear he has a pocket. He waits for Lola to come out of the nest.
5 25 50 PM He waits some more while periodically scoping the territory.
5 27 07PM Pale Male focuses on something. He continues to watch "it" until 5 27 20.
5 27 20PM He turns for take-off.
5 27 22 PM He's off! And he is flapping with purpose and speed north and then west. Did he have an intruder emergency? Was there food stashed for Lola in a tree and that pesky immature RT was deciding to help himself? Was the food stashed and the fact Lola wouldn't go and get it a cue that something important was happening so she couldn't leave? Perhaps he should bring food to the nest?
5 48PM Lola's back appears once again.
5 54 15 PM Lola sits high. She continues to switch positions first one direction, then the other. She does a preen now and again.
5 56 44PM Lola once again disappears into the bowl.
6 11 30PM Lola's head appears and she actively looks out across the territory.
6 14 51PM Lola continues in this behavior. Many families come by and the children look through the scope while the parents ask questions. I don't know when she went back down again. Though by 7PM she has been out of sight for awhile. That being the case, I stow my equipment, take a hold of the wheelie bag to go--and, wouldn't you know it, here comes Pale Male toward the nest.
My only recourse is to grab the only camera within reach, the one I never use for distance, push the zoom to a place it should never ever go and start clicking. Remember this is documentation of a rather peculiar interlude.

7 07 47 Pale Male comes in from the south and lands.
7 07 59PM Lola's head appears above the nest rim. Pale Male has prey.
7 08 05PM What is that? I certainly can't tell from the "documentary photo". Thank goodness experienced Hawk Watcher and sharp eyed Stella Hamilton was on one of the Swarovski Scopes. Stella reports it is a skinned squirrel. Though it still has a head with fur. Unusual not only for the fact it is skinned but that it was brought to the nest with a head at all, furred or unfurred.
7 08 10PM Lola out of bowl.
7 08 15PM ???
7 08 21PM ???
7 08 30 PM Pale turns head, prey in his beak over nest bowl.
7 08 42 PM Pale places prey to south of bowl.
7 08 51PM Keep in mind that they do vocalize to each other. How complex Red-tail vocalization is, is currently unknown. But I figure after 7 years they can get their message across to each other one way or another. Note Pale Male has laid down the prey. But by the next photo...
7 08 56PM He has picked it back up again. Has Lola rejected it in some way? Or is he trying to tempt her off the nest with it? Though according to report her earlier break before 3PM was considered long by those on the Bench.
7 09 00PM Exactly the impetus is unknown, but Pale Male takes the prey with him when he goes.
7 09 05PM Lola watches him go. First to the north.
7 09 10PM Then circling round to the NW.
7:09:35PM Alert. Lola surveys territory.
7:09:46PM Lola heads for the nest bowl.
7:09:56PM Preens her breast.
7:10:05PM Looks and then disappears into the bowl.

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hawkeye and Rose at Fordham--A Hatch? (Pale Male and Lola later this evening.)

All Photographs by Christopher Lyons
There were two updates from Chris Lyons, major Fordham nest observer, today. Here is the first.


I'm pretty sure I saw Rose feeding young this afternoon. It didn't last long, and even from Dealy, using the scope, I couldn't see any eyasses. She stuck her head way down in the nest, with her tail sticking up, and she did those bobbing motions I've seen before when an adult is feeding young. I didn't see anything like that yesterday. No sign of Hawkeye, who was sitting on the nest at the same time yesterday--his hunting instincts would go into overdrive the moment he saw eyasses.

So the first egg probably hatched out in the last 24 hours or so. Probably. I'll try to confirm it sometime this week. I'd have to be looking directly down into the nest to be 100% sure.

Head in bowl, tail up, with bobbing motions.

And the second update from Chris

Pictures from today--taken from the ground below Collins, around 5pm. Rose did a bit of what looked like feeding, but of course I still couldn't see any young, nor did I expect to. She also did a lot of preening, and what looked like trying to shade the nest with her wings.The fact that I saw so much of her is a good sign--normally, when viewing the nest from below, it's hard to even be sure she's in there, when she's incubating. I think she's just about done incubating.

And for those who have asked what mantling looks like, here is an example. Rose has spread her wing and keeps it stationary in order to shade the contents of the nest bowl from the sun.

(Today's Pale Male and Lola report will appear later this evening after I've had a chance to bring up the photos.)

Donegal Browne