Saturday, February 07, 2009

London Plane Fruit, Tulsa Nest "ingredients", Horvath Eagle Creance Flying, Sadie Kisses Henrietta Hen

Photograph by Sally of the Tulsa Hawk Forum
These photos are important further down.

Photograph by Sally of the Tulsa Hawk Forum
London Plane Fruit, naturally dried

Jackie of the Tulsa Hawk Forum has done some sleuthing about the materials in the Tulsa nest--

Hi, Donna:
I will put your query as to the potential sappiness and/or fragrance of sycamore pods to the Forumers. I do not have an answer without researching it. And maybe then, there is no information on the Web. Who knows?

I can say that the pods have not supplanted the use of evergreen boughs. We have photos showing pine or some such evergreen in the nest (both this year and last). AND, this year we have just detected a pussywillow branch! Talk about soft--I'd be plucking the catkins, were I a hawk, and lining my nest with those beauties. :)

I'm attaching a few photos of nest materials we've seen so far this season.
1. 2. pussywillows
3.fluff and feathers
4. JAY bringing sycamore fruits to the nest!
5. Jay in a sycamore tree
6. misc. nest materials
7. pussy willows circled in the foreground; and see evergreen in the back

All photos from KJRH Hawk Cam, except the two of Jay, which are by Russell Mills of KJRH.

Jackie (Tulsa Hawk Forum)

Pussy Willow twigs

The fluff, the way the seeds of London Plane distribute themselves to a larger area, that extrudes from the dried fruit.

Photograph by Russell Mills of KJRH.
Jay checks out the London Plane.

Photograph by Russell Mills of KJRH.

Jay with his clipped twig, which bears Plane fruit. It is possible that the fruit is just an appendage that arrives with the twigs and has no significance whatsover.

And from Sally, also of the Tulsa Hawk Forum--

Dear Donna,

As if you don't have anything else to think about, here's a question.

I was wondering if you might know of any medicinal value of the plane tree bark or fruits that might make it useful for the RT's to take to their nests? I have been trying this morning to research this but found very little, except to have mistakenly read about the anti-parasitic properties of the Egyptian sycamore fig tree, a ficus I find out, not related to our sycamore platanus family. With your interest in the medieval arts and pennsic war I thought you might have some unique references to call upon! According to Wiki the Roman Pliny the Elder documented medicinal uses of the plane in
Naturalis Historia

Naturalis Historia (Latin for "Natural History") is an encyclopedia written circa AD 77 by Pliny the Elder.

I am going out today and if I see any wayward sycamore branches with pods that have fallen in our recent ice storm I will pick them up for touching and feeling


And here are my gleanings--
Platanus x acerifolia., is the scientific name for the hybridized tree found on city streets. Below are folk uses for the indigenous species.

The sugary sap has been tapped from the occidental plane and used for human consumption in North America.

A number of medicinal uses are known in folk medicine for the plane trees. These include some medicinal preparations made from the leaves and the bark of the oriental plane. A range of external and internal medicinal uses have been described for preparations made from the bark of the occidental plane.

Dyes have been prepared from the roots and stems in Kashmir.

In the Far East it is believed that Plane fruit has an insecticidal quality that restrains Plane lice—a group of insects that frequent plants. (Wood is from a plant and nests are made of wood.)
I found only one reference to this belief, nor could I find any information as to whether anyone had tested it to see if it were true.

I did find an extract that posited that tetramic acid derivatives controlled insects from the genus of the plane lice. (sternorrhyncha)

A stretch but here’s a hypothesis that could be tested as a possible reason (if there is one) for the stashing of Plane fruit in nests. The plane fruit has a high tetramic acid content (or other insecticidal quality) which might help keep wood loving insects under some control.

And Sally's secondary report--
(Her photos head today's post)
I did go out and get some sycamore fruit pods, they are dry and rough, and several were beginning to open to reveal their tiny golden brown hairlike seed pods,covered in pollen or some kind of dust. It reminded me of shorter little dandelion puffs. Inside those there is another round hard thing that the hairy achene attach to, like an actual seed perhaps. There is an order to the pods, perhaps a bit bitter sweet but not like a pine scent nor like a grass scent, and no sap or substance other than the powdery stuff in the fluffs.

More of Bobby Horvath and creance flying of the young Bald Eagle that had been saturated in mystery gunk that ruined her feathers.

While her parents creance train raptors---

Photo by Horvath
Sadie Horvath favors kissing her friend Henrietta the hen.

Photo by Horvath

Photo by Horvath

Hey, I want a nice chicken in my kitchen too!

Donegal Browne

Valkyrie of Tompkins Square and the Dickey Bird

Valkyrie by Francois Portmann,
Val seems to be doing her I'm invisible stance.
Francois says:
The young hawkess keeps cracking me up, she is such a character and basically owns the park! Here she is testing the water for a bath under NYPD watchful eye but the snow melt is too shallow!

Photograph by Francois Portmann
Unfortunately, Tompkins Square Park does not have a source of water in the park and we know there are many birds there who would like it!

Valkyrie must really want a bath to try for one in ice water! Red-tails do love a good slosh when available.

Photos and question from Rhode Island's Karen Anne Kolling--


Another what's that bird, from me, the hapless beginner :-) I am thinking a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher? That's a weather-beaten pyracantha, for scale. This is a bigger bird than the tiny ones that hang out in the bushes, and (I think) bigger than a sparrow, but not by much, certainly not as big as a dove,

Well....the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has a slender white eye ring which I'm not seeing in the photograph, though this guy does remand me a little of a miniature Mockingbird with a cocked tail, which the Gnatcatcher would. On the other hand if it is a touch bigger, say 6 1/2 to 7 inches with those possible wing bars, we'd be talking an Eastern Wood Pewee. Though the back should likely be darker.



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Oh Travel Woe.

After many delays yesterday, like from 9:30am to 11:30pm, my flight was finally cancelled. So I'm here in WI for the moment but my computer's power source is in NYC along with my baggage. How come my bag got there and I didn't? It is a major transportational mystery...

We'll see what happens next...and it better be good.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tulsa Nest, Horvath Eagle, Merlin in Tompkins, and Parks Contest

Tulsa nest photos courtesy of KJRH-Tulsa TV

An update on the mysterious pods from Jackie of the Tulsa Hawk Forum--
Hello, Donna--

I'm attaching a couple of screen capture photos from the KJRH nest this morning. We thought you might like to check out the latest contents, perhaps a boom in the number of sycamore pods/balls, an increase from two to, perhaps as many as five: one on the platform to the left of the nest, and four either in or to the right of the nest's interior.

Jackie ("Bville") of the Tulsa Hawks Forum

And here a bit more zoom for a closer view of the nest, which seems to have grown exponentially of late. And as Jackie points out, five more London Plane fruits or as we're calling them for short--pods.

And just why do they seem to be placing them specifically? What is the purpose of the pods? Rather maddening actually. Sympathetic magic? They are taking the place of the traditional evergreen boughs? An insecticide? Do London Plane fruits have a fragrance, a sap that does something? We'll just have to keep watching...
Wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath and the now washed juvenile Bald Eagle that had been and still partially is, covered in a mystery substance.

Here is an update from Bobby and Cathy Horvath on the Eagle--

Hi all,

I just wanted to forward some pictures taken of a recent trip to the field creance flying the eagle. We were disappointed with the lack of flight ability at this time .

Unfortunately since the feather condition has deteriorated instead of improving after discussing the case with DEC and other eagle experienced rehabbers it was decided the best course of action for this case is to hold the bird till it molts . That won't be until this summer at least.

A first year bird molts later and not necessarily completely as adults do. A broken feather sample was sent to the DEC pathology lab and they were unable to determine what the substance is or come up with a solvent to remove it. The feathers now feel like hairspray was applied and anymore washing is only drying them and causing them to become brittle. We followed the TriState Bird Rescue protocol for oil soaked birds with no success. He's only partially flighted at this time. We know for sure the feather situation is a definite problem but aren't sure if there's any others issues besides.

We had hoped to get him back out as soon as possible as it is beneficial for bald eagles juveniles to be released in the winter, contrary to other bird release timeframes, as they are social at this time of the year and learn from being released where other older birds are wintering.

Sorry to report that won't be the case here. Anyway we plan to continue exercising him for physical and psychological reasons until the new feathers start to grow in and then we will be forced to let him rest as to not damage any new growth. Until they are developed enough then we will start flying him again for pre release conditioning.

Thank you for your support and your followers support as well.

Cathy and Bobby

Here you can especially see the deteriorated condition of the eagle's feathers.

Cathy Horvath and the Bald Eagle

An alert from writer and squirrel rehabber Carol Vinzant--

Did you see how parks is having a contest to create a mascot?
I think we have to submit some things to get a dog, squirrel or bird in there.

Carol Vinzant

Photograph by Francois Portmann

Francois questions: "Kestrel or Merlin female at TSP? [Tompkins Square Park]. This bird looks very large for a Kestrel and has heavily streaked underparts!"

I just looked in The Peterson Field Guide- Hawks of North America and I'd say we have a juvenile or adult female Merlin, Falco columbarious.

The field marks are size, heavy streaking, a faint if any "mustache", thin pale horizontal tail stripes (Kestrels bands are dark on lighter tail), and a definite white throat.

Donegal Browne

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Francois Portmann Does Croton-on-Hudson

All Photos by Francois

Notes from Francois about his photos--

Went to see the eagles last friday! They were far and further away.
Difficult for pix but saw 2 dozen busy on the ice, fishing.

Several Red-tail Hawks, this particular pair, the male on the wing...
...and the female, looks like her left eye is hurt or lost
but she seems to do fine.
(Considering what a raptor must do to make a living it is amazing to me that they are able to do it one-eyed, but they can and do regularly. Pale Male's mate his first successful year with young was a female who was blind in one eye. And thank goodness she showed up, one eyed or not, because several Regulars from those days say that it was she who showed Pale Male the ropes when it came to the niceties of nest construction and the rearing of young. D.B.)
A Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, hunts the water from a tree.
Canada Geese, Branta canadensis
The Eagle flies in low hunting.
The Eagle, with wings spread, grabs a fish, with plenty of offers to help eat it from the Eagles on the left.

Note the Redheads, in the foreground. They're Bay Ducks, divers. The kind of duck that does the run and patter on the water for take off.

The Geese, drying their wings at a bathing/grooming stop-over in the cove!

All Photos today by Francois Portmann
Donegal Browne

Blackwater and Plum Station Eagle Nests

Courtesy of the Blackwater Eagle Cam

From Raptor Watcher R. of Illinois--

"The TWO eggs are being kept warm by the parents, despite the snow. We hope the weather will improve around Thursday."



Near Sandusky, Ohio, the NASA Plum Brook Station bald eagles are back at the nest site, sitting around and doing a bit of nest refurbishing. No eggs yet. This pair tends to lay in March, so it will be a while yet.

Just saw another bald eagle sitting near another local nest down the road. The season has begun, with eggs and incubation to follow in the coming weeks.

--John Blakeman