Friday, June 26, 2009

A New Hawkwatcher for the Triborough Nest, The Kestrel Release, and Riverside Hawks

Lisa P. a new hawkwatcher finds the fledglings of Athena and Atlas from the Triborough Nest--
Friday, June 26, 2009
Found your blog this morning after I google'd hawks in astoria park.

It was 6:50am and I noticed two hawks in the trees of the paved park off Hoyt Ave North (b/w 21st & 19th Sts.). Both were big and making a ton of noise (I actually heard them in my apt 1 block away!!!).

Beautiful birds. Although the one stared me down for a minute while I stared back at it. Took photo with cellphone but cannot see anything in photo.

Lisa P.

Photograph by James O'Brien
Young Kestrels rehabilitated by the Horvaths and ready for Release.
Longtime Hawk and Falcon Watcher James O’Brien has some wonderful photographs of the Kestrel Release on his Origin of the Species blog from Wednesday June 24th.
PS Great work Cathy, Bobby and Sadie Horvath!

Hello All,
This past Tuesday I returned to the Flushing Meadow Park. I was able to locate both parents, fledgling #3 and one of the banded birds Bobby and Cathy released. I should have asked Bobby to paint the bands so I can tell them apart, one being male and the other female. Fledgling #3 has been getting fed on the Unisphere quite often, and in terms of flying is quite advanced compared to the other two fledglings.
I returned to Flushing again today(Friday) and managed to locate both parents and two fledglings. I'm not sure which two I saw, but they were both hanging out atop some wires on the Pavilion, calling for food.
Both birds look well, hopping around on the wires, being harassed by various other birds, and plucking at their feathers. One fledgling made a nice flight over the Pavilion, passed the GCP and towards to Queens Zoo on the other side of the park, all to evade the meanest mockingbird known to man.
I hope to return again maybe Sunday to see if I can spot all 3 fledglings in one day.

More Photos of the NYBG Fledglings and an Update from Jules Corkery of Astoria Park

Photo by Richard Fleisher--
Two New York Botanical Garden Fledglings

Check out the ankles on these birds and their relative body size. They are very likely just about their adult sizes. A male and a female? Also likely. And it's a stand off, but only a momentary one.

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Miss NYBG has control of the prey, while Master NYBG waits and crowds in when possible looking for an opportunity to grab a bite for himself.

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Master is getting closer, closer--slowly, slowly...

Photo by Richard Fleisher

Miss grabs up the squirrel in her beak with a weather eye on Master.

Photo by Richard Fleisher
She starts to put it down...
Nope, he's was still doing a slow stealth toward the prey--- just a little too close.

Yes, sometimes the larger fledgling will eat the entire prey dropped by the parent. But do note that the smaller fledgling does not have a completely flat crop so he is getting food. Most experienced parents do seem to pay attention to who is getting what and act with that knowledge. Also take into account that the larger bird, likely the female, does need more calories to live than the smaller one does.

Which leads me to one of the thoughts I've been mulling. Now keep in mind that females, they are predators after all, are stealth hunters as well as the males are but it seems to me that in NYC many of the males, especially the smaller ones like Pale Male, Pale Male Jr. and the late Tristan, are particularly patient, clever, and sneaky when it comes to hunting. (Storm'n Norman, previously of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, excepted.)

Is it possible that having a much larger sister growing up is good training in stealth and using chance opportunity to advantage? Therefore preparing the small males to be even better hunters than if they'd not had to compete with a bird much bigger and stronger than themselves. Maybe, just maybe it does.

At least I like to think so when a much larger sibling eats all of the first dinner drop.

And from Carol Capobianco of the New York Botanical Garden--

See some of the images of the fledglings on our blog today:
Our final bird walk of the season is on Saturday, June 27, at 11 a.m. Come see the fledglings while they are still hanging around.
(More info on the NYBG bird walk on their blog, link above. D.B.)

Triborough Bridge Update from Hawkwatcher Robert McMinn--
We didn't see any juveniles last night but we did find an adult (probably the female) perched on a low branch over Shore Boulevard watching for rats on the rocks. We sat about 30 feet away with our feet hanging over the wall and after about 10 minutes we saw her shift on the branch and knew she was about to make a move. She flew past us within a few inches of my knee and landed clean on a rat just below us. Once it stopped moving she flew it to a tree, devoured it in moments and immediately flew off again, presumably to hunt.

And from Jules Corkery on the same nest--
Hi All
Last night we saw both Atlas and Athena bringing food to the high diving board and also leaving food on the bridge pipes above the tennis court.
Baby 2 - has been hunkered down in a Norway spruce on 19th Street and 24th Road. He's being fed and has been practicing branching and triangulating birds and objects in his environment. He stayed there overnight but hopefully he'll be in the park soon. The Greek family that lives in the 2 story apt building next to the tree is aware of the birds and is excited about these special guests.
Baby 3 - was sighted this morning on the back fence of the tennis courts. He also is fed and calm. Atlas was above him on the bridge pipes. Once we saw Baby 3, who is visibly smaller than Baby 2, we knew which was which.
The fireworks will take place this Sunday, 6/30 on the river between the Hellgate and Triborough Bridges. I spoke with Bobby today and hopefully, Baby 1 can be brought back early next week.
Will keep you posted.

Without question Jules and Company get to meet many neighbors whom they might never meet and have quirky adventures in Astoria due to trailing the progeny of Atlas and Athena. And just think how many people are introduced to the wonders and mysteries of urban hawks in the process.

As Jules says, "Binoculars for all!"

Donegal Browne

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Urban Red-tailed Hawk Update-NYC

Photo by Donegal Browne
The Unisphere in Queens.

For some years now a Red-tailed Hawk pair has nested on the Unisphere. It isn't terrific for branching and also note that there is a rather wide circle of concrete below it which isn't as soft as it might be for landing. Therefore most years the Horvaths end up caring for some or all of the fledglings from the nest. Either because they might be injured from coming down on the hard surface or because they end up trotting around in the open area without cover or adequate flight skills amongst lots of people and lots of dogs.

And here we are at release day for two of the 2009 Unisphere fledglings. That's rehabber Bobby Horvath on the left and I believe, hawkwatcher Peter Richter, on the right.

Photos from rehabber Bobby Horvath

An email from Peter Richter, hawkwatcher in Queens, Unisphere Nest
Hello All,
Bobby and Cathy Horvath were able to successfully release the first two Unisphere fledglings this morning at around 11:45 A.M.
The third fledgling watched the whole event from atop the Queens Museum of Art where his parents fed him this morning. The third fledglings seems to be the best of the three in the air, as I saw him make it from the top of the museum across to the Unisphere nonstop. I stayed with the released fledglings till about 4 P.M. They hopped around from branch to branch high up in a patch of Maple trees, as they withstood a barrage of abuse from numerous Blue jays, Grackles, and Robins(surprisingly no Mockingbirds). One of the parents returned to the Unisphere at around 2:30 to feed the third fledgling its second meal of the day and the two returned fledglings began to call for their parents shortly after.

The other parent was spotted atop the Pavilion but did not get close enough to hear the fledglings call. At around 3:15 the parent on the Unisphere went to investigate the calls, and it circled directly over the fledglings head several times before disappearing behind the Pavilion. At this point I was satisfied that at least one parent had recognized that their offspring has returned, and that they will be fed soon. I will continue to watch this nest as best as I can and report back on the three fledglings progress. Thanks again to Bobby and Cathy for caring for and saving these great birds.

From long time watcher of the nest of Athena and Atlas, Jules Corkery--
June 21, 2009

Hi All
Triborough Baby 1 - with the Horvaths. Thanks you guys!
Triborough Baby 2 - found and is located north across the street from nest in small trees and well hidden.
Parks staff know where he is and have been checking on him. Have not seen parent feed him and not sure if he is taking food on the tree since the tree branches are very flexible but he is not calling out or in distress and looks fed. Stopped a local resident from poking him with an umbrella yesterday.Explained the bird was a baby and this seemed to satisfy him. His english isn't very good and I don't speak his language unfortunately. His name is Tony and he's from Croatia where when he was a boy they had large hawks/eagles (not sure what) that would take chickens. Think he was trying to tell me that Baby 2 had been stuck in his yard unable to get back into the trees or onto the fence. There is a grape arbor that he might not have been able to negotiate. Tony said he came out to drive it off. I told him that the parents will feed him and as soon as he is able baby 2 will follow his parents (and food source) into the park. This seemed to make sense to him. Nice guy.
Triborough Baby 3 - came off the nest Saturday 6/20 in late afternoon and landed in the london planes that are right in front of the nest. He had a very full crop and was quite content. Both parents were watching him and trying to guide him north. He instead decided to fly over 21st Street onto a very narrow ledge of one of the bridge's I - beams above 21st Street.
The parents brought food to him trying to convince him that there were better places to be. He wasn't having it. He didn't know how to takeoff in a place where he could only lift one wing at a time. He rested there through some of the heavier rain and was able to stretch a little. He even might have dozed off perched with his face against the side of the steel beam because when a truck passed underneath he jumped a little with the noise. A while later he suddenly took off and got himself onto the next I - beam. He stayed there and when we left he was still there. At that point it was dark and we knew the parents knew where he was. We knew he was flapping his wings and not just gliding and the evening park supervisor knew his location. This morning, I'm happy to report that he is once again content and sitting atop a mulberry tree between the tennis courts and the bridge. He is closer to 21st Street than we'd like but the tree has lots of branches that are bent over and he is able to jump around and nap.Athena's position on the light pole behind the tennis courts has her triangulated with her two offspring so that she can watch both. Atlas is nearby watching as well. Such good parents.
Jules and Robert

Later in the day…
Well, don't that beat all! Little Triborugh Bridge Nest Baby 3 got himself back into the nest this afternoon just in time for dinner. In 24 hours off the nest he's a pretty impressive flyer. Athena was very close to where Baby 2 was last seen so we are pretty confident she knows where he is and are guessing that she is focusing her attention on getting him into a safer and higher perching spot.The rain continues to be an advantage keeping people and dogs to a minimum.Will update as soon as we know more.
Jules and Robert.

June 23, 2009
Hi All

Triborough Baby #3 is back in the nest and this morning he was eating a pigeon and looking all hawk as he would tear pieces and then scan the sky.
Triborough Baby #2 - we didn't seem him this morning. The parents weren't around and there were no upset jays, mockingbirds, or starlings to reveal his whereabouts. Will have a longer amount of time tonight to look for him. Will report more later.

June 23, 2009
From Glenn Phillips of NYCAudubon

I think we've found Baby #2. Just got a call that it's on a roof top at 19th street, Astoria, . If it needs help, you can call Debbie, it's on her grandmother's roof. (Her grandma is scared of it, but I assured her there was no cause to be alarmed.
And for something completely different from Jackie Dover of Tulsa--
Hi, Donegal--
I ran across this YouTube video of Bald Eagles enjoying the water on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The video is by Tony Markle, Nanoose Bay, BC
Best wishes,
Jackie Dover
Tulsa Hawk Forum
And goodness knows what tomorrow may bring!
Donegal Browne

P.S. Next post down, with a County Rd. M nest and Hawkeye/ Rose Nest update, also went up today so check to make sure you've seen it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Primus Gives Me the Sideways Head Plus-Hawkeye and More NYBG Fledgling Photos by Richard Fleisher

When I pulled off the road and cut the motor. I heard begging. Which is reasonably rare with these rural hawks. I got out of the car and the begging continued for a few moments and that is virtually unheard of. I'd only heard begging outside the car once in all the time I've watched this nest.

The begging seemed to have come from the big nearly perfect oak, a favorite of locals, that grows nearly on the verge of the highway. I got back into the car. The begging started up. Well it was coming from the oak's direction anyway.

I got out again. There was a pause and then the begging began again with added vigor. It seemed that the beggar had thrown caution to the wind.

I've often wondered how the parents had taught the eyasses not to beg when there were people standing around. It occurred to me that perhaps it had to do with some sort of special reinforcement. That perhaps like the babies of the deaf who do not cry because they don't get rewarded with food when they do cry, the eyasses had learned that they could beg their little birdie guts out and no food would arrive while humans stood watching.

On the other occasion in which I'd heard begging was on a day when I'd already been watching for 3 or so hours, and someone had gotten hungry enough to make a stink, reinforcement or no.

I advanced on the favorite oak and the begging is continuing. Still I can't see a fledgling. I walk into the vegetation that is growing shoulder high between the verge and the cornfield and set up the scope. The begger quits. Ah ha!

And there she is, staring straight at me. Reasonably peachy breast, and a direct stare, I'd say Primus, who I haven't seen for some days.
She looks across the cornfield. I look across the cornfield. No wonder. Mom is perched on the favorite hunting power pole. Primus has a rather flat crop, thus the insistant begging. At this stage of the game, the parents are still feeding the young, but they aren't quite as quick about it as they once were in order to help trigger some hunting responses on the part of the fledglings. Fledglings on the other hand find this tremendously irritating and can get downright grumpy about it.

Wait a second did Primus just give me the inverted head look? I do think she did but the photo was too late to catch it. Actually her curious stare reminds me of the some of the St. John the Divine Cathedral eyasses. That nest too was well within range for the eyasses to begin to recognize the watchers. Primus doesn't seem the least bit wary of me, but then she was always a bit on the brazen side.

She goes into a pounce stance and stares to my left.

Now she appears to be looking at me with a touch of pounce stance.

Now the eye over the twig look.

And back to me. Suddenly I get the impression that she'd just as soon I went elsewhere. Her eyes have gotten just a tiny bit slittier and there is something about the set of her beak. Of course she may have just remembered that my presence is holding up a possible food delivery.

She looks back over at mom and stares pointedly.

Then it happens-- the inverted sideways head look. A definite. It doesn't happen slowly it is a quick move. It's upright and then it isn't. Decidedly "cute".

She must be very relaxed around me to give me "the look".

Back to mom. Nothing looks promising. She stares with focus.

A bit of chest preening.

Mom has come off the pole and flies just inches above the new corn.
Bingo! She's snatched something.

WHAT? SHE'S EATEN IT HERSELF. (A hunting demo that doesn't have quite the ending that Primus was rooting for.)

Well Primus isn't about to try it. She still thinks that the food needs to come to her.

Shoulder preen. I can wait.

Her eyes get slittier. She glances towards me and then back to Mom.

She can't stand it any longer and starts begging--very loud, and very vigorously. Nothing arrives.

She stops a moment.

Wing stretch. Still nothing.

What is mom doing now?

Primus looks at me. Definitely annoyed. Perhaps considering if it is my fault that no food is coming this way.

She makes herself more obvious to the parent on the pole. Nothing.

Fine. Off the branch she goes and disappears into the nest tree. Not such a bad landing this time though not perfect by any means. I'd better go so that whatever should happen and has been put on hold can happen.

Photos of Hawkeye and the NYBG eyasses by Richard Fleicher
These photos of NYBG male by Rich Fleicher finally gave Chris Lyons, a chief watcher of Hawkeye and Rose at Fordham, the look he needed to confirm for himself that this hawk is indeed Hawkeye. Here is what he had to say on the matter---


Many wonderful photos of the New York Botanic Garden Fledglings by Rich Fleicher follow...enjoy!




Jules Corkery on the 2nd Triborough Bridge Fledgling

Hi allTonight after work we went looking for the second Triborough Bridgebaby fledgling. We could hear him in the tall mugwort and young mulberry trees between the tennis courts and the south side of theTriborough Bridge but we couldn't see him. His call was clear andstrong and there was a parent perched on the pipe above the area so Ithink he's okay for now.

We will be out there tomorrow early to meetand greet any construction crew who are going to be in the area.We're really looking forward to getting an actual sighting of thelittle guy so we know he's okay.

Baby #3 is fat and happy - he spent the evening preening and hoppingabout the nest which now has plenty of room. He was definitely veryinterested in what his sibling had to say but had no intention ofleaving the nest tonight.

Hope you are all enjoying the rain - saw a beautiful cedar wax wing pigging out on mulberries this morning! I thought he might burst!

Binoculars for all,