Thursday, April 23, 2009

Great Horned Owls and a Wisconsin Skunk

Pat Gonzalez who has been following the Great Horned Owl nest in the New York Botanical Gardens sends in her latest news--
The two great-horned owl chicks inside the tree have literally flown the coop. They are out and about, learning how to fly, and the other things they'll have to know in order to survive. Truly magnificent creatures, they seem to have fuzz instead of feathers. Mama was watching rather intently while I snapped these pics.

I love the beginnings of the owlets "Great Horns" which of course aren't horns at all but rather tufts of feathers. And look at those amazing feathered very large feet this guy has on him!


Hey Donna.

The weather here has been terrible lately so I have been unable to confirm if we have a hatch yet. I can see that Charlotte is still sitting on the nest. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and I can get a good look through the glass. I leave Friday to visit family in MS and won't be returning until Tuesday so if I don't see anything tomorrow, it will be next week before I know anything.Brett B. Odom

Here's hoping that the southern Central Park pair has a surprise for Brett the next time he looks through his office window at them.

I was lost. To tell the truth I am often lost in Wisconsin. The shortest route ordinarily from where ever I am to where ever it is I want to go is by the country roads. You know, the ones that the Atlases don't have on them? In fact I'd been lost for nearly an hour when I saw two Red-tails circling up in a very blue prairie sky.

Enough of this lost thing already. I pulled off into a little park to photograph the Red-tails, get out my cellphone, call for help, endure the ribbing I always get from the local folks who help get me unlost, and then I noticed the above object.
Do you know what it is? It's an artesian well. This one is equipped with a handy bubbler for easy drinking.

According to the online version of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and artesian well is a well in which water is under pressure ; especially : one in which the water flows to the surface naturally.

Wisconsin is full of artesian well. The water from these wells is high in silica and other minerals. They come from a deep level, so are also quite pure. Most of them have been capped in Wisconsin but there was always a way left in which the many people from the area who believed in the water's beneficial medicinal value, could always get some to either drink on the spot or fill containers to take home.

Very nice and all but I'm still lost. I get ahold of Gaylord Hooker and after not quite believing that I had truly gotten myself all the way into Porter Township, he gave me the gist on how to get back--maybe.

Definitely two different hawks in the photos. This one has quite a white patch on the neck and the first is a very dark bird, much like Pale Male Jr.'s mate, Charlotte.

Possible directions in hand I return to the car and trundle off. And I drive and I drive and I drive, until what should I see?

A skunk! One often smells skunk here but seeing one is a much rarer matter.

First of all, it's about 3:30 in the afternoon. Ordinarily skunks aren't out until at least dusk. Could this be a rabid skunk?

So not only could I smell really bad for a very long time but I could also be chased by a crazed rabid skunk. I don't know, his legs look pretty short, I'm betting I could beat him back to my car. Besides he isn't drooling or anything though he doesn't seem to really be paying me the least mind. I leave the car door open just in case and decide to stay on my side of the road.

OH NO!!! His tail gives an upward twitch. I stand still and his tail slowly lowers. I don't think he likes my tripod.

He may be giving me the eye, but mostly he continues to forage in the ditch at the side of the road.
I hear mooing and turn around.

Wow there are a whole lot of milk cows back there standing by the barn. It must be time for either milking, dinner, or they don't like my tripod either because the girls are really starting to rev up.

I look back at the skunk and one of the girls gives out a bona vide bellow. Skunk's tail stands straight up. Needless to say I didn't even move enough to click a picture of that completely raised tail. This is his tail lowering slowly after the the start he got from the cow bellow.

Ah, I'm standing in front of Towson Holsteins. The reason I now know I was near Porter is that one of the local volunteer fireman here, looked at the picture and the number on the red sign, to a fireman anyway, tells the location that one is in.

Skunk is back moseying through the grass looking for some Skunk favorites, such as grasshoppers or grubs. They even tear into wasps nests and eat the insects, without apparent regard for all the stings, if they can get them. Ditto for small mammals.
The Girls have gone into a major vocalization. I can hardly hear myself think.

Skunk seems to have gotten used to it, thank goodness.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, Great Horned Owls seem to be the only predator who seem impervious to Skunk smell. Barred Owls will also predate Great Horns but they apparently don't like the smell. I wonder how they can tell? Barred Owls certainly doesn't have lips that can curl up in disgust.

Skunk keeps turning his back lessoning the photo opportunities.

Still staying on my side of the road, I attempt to trot ahead of skunk to get a face shot.

No good. Skunk just pads down the incline away from me.

According to the Wisconsin DNR--
"The striped skunk is very common in Wisconsin. They're not very aggressive and typically plod along minding their own business. But, if you see one, it's best to quietly move away so you don't become a victim…"
Good point about not bugging him and also good point about plodding. This guy without question plods.

He notices me again and quickly turns his back.

What's this? Does he have a scar on his face from maybe a Great Horned Owl attack? Or does he have a sore eye and that is matter stuck to his black fur?

Look along the right side of his tail. See the bottom of his back foot? The gray pads? It took some looking but it turns out that a Skunk's back feet don't look a whole lot like his front feet. The front feet though festooned with very sharp digging claws are quite petite comparatively.

It's time for me to try and get unlost and Skunk is now making away from me, plodding into the metaphorical sunset.
I do dearly hope I get myself unlost well before the real one.
Donegal Browne

The Red-tailed Hawks on M and Wildlife in the New York Botanical Gardens

When I first caught sight of the Ms nest, I was sure that there was a bird standing on the rim.

But by the time I got up even with it, there was nothing but tail feathers sticking out my side. I didn't turn the car off and the tail feathers remained toward me.

Then one of my many cousins in the area, pulled up behind my car with a barking dog in the front seat of his pick up truck. Mrs. M looked over her shoulder at us.

Then her head disappeared and the tail feathers got some elevation.
She was scrunching down and turning at the same time.
In alert position she stares down and Joe and I. Doggie has remained in the truck. In Central Park I've noticed the same thing. Red-tails are completely unfond of dogs.
About that time, Joe gets back in his truck, it's his busy time of year as he's the area's big supplier of seed corn. Off he goes but Mrs. M has not forgiven me. She stares.

And continues to do so. I can see that this is what I'll get today, so get into my own car and drive away. When I look back, it appears that someone is standing on the rim of the nest again. Sigh.
Beyond stubborn hawks, today is interesting in that I cannot access my email box. I'm certain this will be rectified by Yahoo very soon and news will begin to flow again. That's been the way of things previously when it has been unreachable.
Some gorgeous shots of Canada Geese and turtles from Pat Gonzalez at the New York Botanical Garden, ready made to sooth the soul.
Gorgeous wings and reflection...
These guys don't look like they've missed any meals lately do they?
Donegal Browne
P.S. For more from Fordham Hawkwatcher Chris Lyons in reference to the new Red-tail nest and Possible Rose at the NYBG, check out the comments section in the next post down.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The New Nest at the NYBG, Which M Red-tailed Hawk Is Which, Corkery on The Nest of Astoria Park, and New Condor's Nest

The new Red-tail Nest at the New York Botanical Garden


When I arrived at the NYBG I made a b-line for the library building so I could photograph the hawk nest. At first, I thought that there was nobody home until I looked at the photographs. There was definitely a head there. I took some more pics before I left. The attached was taken at 4:37 PM. See the head?

Sorry I couldn't get better shots. I was too scared I'd get scolded by one of the employees for walking across the lawn. : ) Even with my binoculars it was hard to make much out.

Hope these help.

Pat Gonzalez

Many thanks Pat! No apologies necessary. It is clear that this is a bit of a tough site to photograph. This site for nesting though similar to the one at Fordham appears to have less square footage and less head room, though quite cozy none the less.

Can anyone tell if there are pigeon spikes along the edge of the "floor"? They tend to help keep nesting materials in place.

Pat I hope you don't mind, I cropped your shot in order to get a better look at the sitting hawk.
And you did manage even at the ground angle to get the sitting bird's head. She (or he) of course is not exactly posing for the photo as she's quite hunkered down.

A detail that if mentioned before bears mentioning again to those who may be visiting this nest, hoping to help identify if Hawkeye and or Rose are involved. Rose has a band on her leg that she received while in rehab with the Horvaths. If we do find that the female is banded, we can get the numbers and definitively prove whether or not she is Rose.


I decided this was Mrs. M on my visit of April 17th. Why? See what I suppose could be called the expression on her face? I see it as an expression of aggression, the "Don't you dare try it" look. And the lines of the face look particularly "hawkish" or as Francois Portmann expresses it, "Eagle-ish" that I find typical of a female. There is a sleekness about her face. We do have to take into account that it was a warm dry day so her feathers lay flat.

On my visit to observe the Ms on the 20th of April, this bird was sitting the nest. I think it is Mr. M. Mr. M has a tendency to have more of an expression that broadcasts, "I'm invisible or would like to be". It had been raining for the previous two days so his head feathers are particularly fluffy, though I think they have a tendency to be a little that way even on dry days compared with the Mrs. Somehow he looks rounder and almost cuddly like the round headed eyasses on occasion. Does this help protect him from possible aggression accidentally doled out by his larger mate? Rather like what research has found to be the "baby" face in humans, that innately makes us want to nurture and protect those creatures wearing it?

I've now come to believe that Mr. M is the one who when intruded upon moves twigs to obscure himself.

Here he puts his conspicuous eye behind the twig.
Here is his profile. While not the exact angle of the Mrs. above, notice that his brow and beak length ratio appears shorter and smaller.

I couldn't get them to load tonight, but I have several photographs in which Mr. M's head disappears into the nest. I've tried to figure out what he was doing as he wasn't rolling eggs or that sort of nest duty. I think now, that he was moving twigs subtly higher to disguise himself
Young California Condors
Frequent contributor Robin of Illinois discovered this wonderful news about the Condors--
First condor nest in 70 years found near Pinnacles Monument in California.
Condor Nest Found Near Pinnacles Monument;First Nest Found Near Park In Over 70 Years PINNACLES NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif. -- The first condor nest located near Pinnacles National Monument in more than 70 years has been verified, park officials said Monday.

A male condor released at the monument in 2004 has paired with a 6-year-old female condor for breeding. It is also the first condor nest since are-establishment effort introduced California condors back into the park in2003.

Prior to the re-establishment effort, California condors were facing extinction and no new condor nests were known to have been found at the park in nearly seven decades before 2003, said Carl Brenner, chief of interpretation and education at Pinnacles National Monument.

The nest site is located on a private ranch outside the park, but the National Park Service said it is working with the ranchers on a nest-monitoring strategy. “This has been a rewarding opportunity to work with our community toward common goals. Both the ranchers and the condors will benefit from the continuation of successful ranching operations,” said Daniel George, condor program manager at Pinnacles National Monument.

Brenner said biologists will closely monitor the nest to see if the new first-time parents can succeed in incubating the egg and rearing the chick.During a recent visit, biologists saw the male condor stand and briefly turn the egg. Condor eggs take about 57 days to hatch and park officials said that if the new parents are successful at rearing the young condor, it would take its first flight in October.

There are currently 23 free-flying condors at Pinnacles National Monument and the current world population of California condors stands at 322. The California condor was put on the federal endangered species list in 1967.

Thousands of hours and dollars spent from 1967 t0 2009 and the population is 322. Over 40 years of work, and we're glad we've got 322. But once again it shows how hard it is to help nature re-succeed after we've driven them to very near extinction.

Photograph by Michell Nusbaum
The Inwood Park Nest- Mitch reports that Ranger Rob believes they may well have had a hatch.

Here the male has landed on the Tulip tree nest. Last year there were 2 eyasses.

Donegal Browne

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inwood Park Red-tail Nest

Longtime hawkwatcher and astronomy buff, Mitch Nusbaum has news about the Inwood Park Red-tail nest, (unfortunately Blogger isn't taking photos this evening, or much else either without a struggle, so you must wait for Mitch's photo of the nest until Blogger changes it's mind about being cooperative.)

According to Ranger Rob there may be a hatch at IHP. Here the male has landed on the Tuliptree nest. Last year there were 2 eyasses.