Friday, July 17, 2009

Photograph courtesy of Alan Kleinber

The Red-tailed Hawk is sitting atop the statue in Gramercy Park, of the famous 19th century actor Edwin Booth. He donated his multistory brownstone, across the street from the park, for use as a private club for actors--The Player's Club.

At the time not only could actors not join gentleman's clubs, being considered incorrigible rogues, but could also not be buried in consecrated ground. And yes, it was his brother, John Wilkes who shot Abraham Lincoln.

As to the hawk, here's his story, sent in by longtime contributor Robin of Illinois--

Gramercy Park’s Amiable Hawk Gets a Name
By Jennifer 8. Lee


Pale Male now has to share the New York City bird stage, with another red-tailed hawk that has recently made a home in Gramercy Park — and that some believe may be related to him.

The young red-tailed hawk, which first appeared in the two-acre urban oasis in April, inspired a neighborhood naming contest with hundreds of contributions — many of them plays off of Pale Male’s name or the history of Gramercy Park.

Among the suggestions that riffed off the famed Central Park bird: Hail PaleHale Male and Pale Son. Names that drew on Gramercy Park’s history include Duane (for the family of the owners out of whose farmland Gramercy Park was created); Ruggles (for Samuel B. Ruggles, who bought the property from the heirs of James Duane); and Krom (for the Dutch name for the area, “Krom Moerasje,” meaning “little crooked swamp”).

The winner?


It was the most suggested name, said Arlene Harrison, a trustee of GramercyPark and president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, who ran the contest and announced the winner this week. “They took it very seriously,”she said. “They did research.” Children wrote in from camp and people were constantly stopping her on the street.

The red-tailed hawk is probably between one and two years old, based on its markings, and is still looking for a mate. It has eaten a lot of pigeons,residents report, and perhaps even squirrels. Ruggles is currently on leave from the park, as it seems to disappear for a few weeks periodically.

Despite the fact that Pale Male and Lola’s reproduction troubles have been well-chronicled, one local birdwatcher believes that Ruggles may be perhaps their descendant, in part because by of its lack of fear of humans and its distinctive coloring, which is similar to Pale Male’s. The bird’s head is much paler and the band across his belly is lighter and more diffuse than those of the typical red-tailed hawk and is very similar to the markings ofPale Male, said Sandy Kisiel, a Gramercy Park resident and a longtime birdwatcher. “There are not that many light-headed red-tailed hawks,” she said.

Also, it is unusual in that it has decided to settle in a two-acre urban space, since most red-tailed hawks shy away from people. “People are in the park and reading newspapers, and this guy comes swooping in,” said Ms.Kisiel. “Just right next to all these people, it’s so hilarious. You just don’t see red-tailed hawks behave that way.

”Pale Male likewise famously settled on the facade of a Fifth Avenue co-op.

Ruggles is unlikely, based on its age, to be Pale Male’s son — given the fact that Pale Male and Lola didn’t successfully hatch chicks for several years. “It might be a grandchild,” she said. But, as her husband said, “Unless you do a blood test, you can’t prove anything.”

Fawn Photographs by D, Browne
My friend, Jim Blank, who photographed the twin fawns posted previously on the blog, and I were out looking at a depository of clay when he said, "Look, look! Do you see it?"

Now Jim has an eye for deer in much the same way I have an eye Red-tails. He spots deer everywhere. It took me a moment and then yes, I DID SEE HER. She was in the wheat field waiting for Mom to come back for her.

She walked a few steps to the east.

Then she gave us the one eyed peer.

A few steps west...

Then a straight on look with both eyes.

Then it was down into a kneel, ears back.

An I-am-wheat imitation.

No really, I am TOO wheat.

Okay, okay, wheat with ears and eyes.

Is that Mom over there in the bushes?

I look away to see what might be causing the look of acute focus and when I look back--no fawn.

I wait. Eventually two ears reappear in quite a different section of the field.

And then when the ears disappear, I wait-and wait-and wait, but they are gone for the day it seems.
A small flock of Cockatoos take over the backyard bird feeder.
From longtime contributor Karen Anne Kolling of RI.--
I was going-- What? What, when I read this post, and then I remembered the writer is in Australia. I would be thanking my lucky stars if I had these birds visiting my garden -

"Birds that Visit our Garden"

Donegal Browne

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Norfolk Botanical Garden Eaglets

Photo by Christina Murphy
"Eaglet hooded'
Hi Donegal
I'm sending CHRISTINA MURPHY'S personal photos of the Norfolk Botanical Garden eaglet who was fitted with a tracking device.

"Azalea in all her glory"

The tracking project will continue for three years. Christina Murphy, a member of the Norfolk Forum, has given permission to share her photos of the event--she was there! She also made a short video:


Photo by Christina Murphy

You can follow Azalea's travels on a tracking map and a blog by biologist Reese Lukei, at this link:

This is Azalea's closeup and a gorgeous bird she is indeed. She als0 seems to have the sweetest eyes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Photograph by Mitchell Nusbaum
The day before the accident Mitch took this photograph of the Riverside fledgling making a kill east of the Henry Hudson Parkway on the south side of the playground at about W81St.

While I was scrutinizing the wheat field on the east side of the road looking for turkeys, these turkeys were scrutinizing and eating the oats in the field on the west side of the road working their way across the field with their backs turned.

We surprised each other.

I grabbed the camera and they got into a turkey line, took to their feet, and headed south.

At first I couldn't figure out why? Why not head for the other side of the field? And therefore put more distance between us. Then it became clear. There is a bit of a hill mid-field and they were heading for the rear of it. Therefore protecting themselves even better and in less time then it would have taken to hit the edge of the field and then the woods. Turkeys may look strange but contrary to report they aren't a bunch of dummies.

The mushroom eating squirrel courtesy of Jackie Dover.
Hi, Donegal:
Having just viewed the bagel-loving squirrel in NYC, I was reminded of a photo my daughter sent to me. This is a fungi-favoring, urban Texas squirrel. I have read that squirrels can tolerate fungi which are toxic to human beings.
This was my daughter's observation:"Our neighborhood has a mushroom-eating squirrel. I know that he feasts on mushrooms all the time because I looked up into this tree and spotted mushroom remains lying about."
Jackie Dover
Tulsa Hawk Forum
Since seeing this piece on PBS, I’d been looking for it again. Robin of Illinois found it!
And Good News Concerning the Triborough Fledglings from Avid Hawkwatcher Robert McMinn--

Jules and I saw all three juveniles perched on a rooftop at 21st Street & Hoyt. They were taking turns on a rat corpse and were remarkably civil about it (wonder how long that will last). We talked to a resident who was really pleased about the rat control and excited about having hawks on his rooftop.

We've been hearing them from our apartment and on our walks a lot and have seen one or two at a time but this was the first time we've seen all three together since July 4th weekend. They seem to be doing really well. The one that was the last to leave the nest is an amazing flyer. We sometimes confuse him for a parent when he swoops in from out of nowhere and lands seamlessly on a high perch. The one the Horvaths released last week has radically improved his tree skills.

We didn't see the parents [Atlas and Athena- D.B.] drop off the rat this morning but there's every indication that both parents are in the area working their red tails off to raise their young.


Having been taken into the care of wildlife rehabilitators, Bobby and Cathy Horvath, as their place of fledge is so dangerous and then released again after honing their skills, the Triborough young are doing swimmingly so far. Keep your fingers crossed!

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Secundus of the County Road M Red-tails, stands in an oak tree hard by the highway to the left. Fortunately the road has far less traffic than an urban counterpart would. And secondly, to his right stretches at least 120 acres whose only usual motored vehicle is a slowly moving tractor.

The sad news. This time from Raptor Watcher Bruce Yolton of --
The Henry Hudson Parkway traffic (this time a truck) claimed another fledgling today at Riverside Park today. This leaves only one out of the three fledglings still alive. I received word that the police assisted in stopping traffic and the remains were retrieved and given to someone in the Parks Department. I had been forwarded one of the eye witnesses' phone numbers and gave it to Captain Richard Simon of the Urban Park Rangers, so he could follow up.

The two fledglings had been on the same branch on a tree at the top of the stairs that leads to the underpass at 84th Street. One flew across the highway, above car height but did not fly high enough for the truck. It was then hit a few more times by other cars.

Tonight, the surviving fledgling was crying out at the southern end of the Esplanade at 84th. The parents responded with food, but the fledgling wasn't hungry. I think it was calling for its sibling.

Thank you Bruce for the detailed account.

Terribly sad news, particularly as this pair lost all three of their eyasses last season to possible poison. Riverside park is long and narrow with a prey base deep enough to reliably feed three eyasses. Unfortunately it's narrowness, bordered and transected by highways as it is, tends to put young hawks in nearly constant danger from traffic.

Donegal Browne

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Miscellany

Doorstep, up left, and Friend Mourning Dove, down right, take their ease, feathers fluffed after their bath. At first glance I thought these two doves were fresh off the nest.

The overcast sky is making their feathers look darker than usual. They are fluffed up and hunkered down a common young Mourning Dove position for dozing.

A Mourning Dove, like a pigeon, comes off the nest fully flighted and full sized. They haven't done a super amount of flapping or practicing to fly. For a day or two they flap and gain altitude without lateral movement. Then suddenly one day they follow their parents away from the nest when the parents leave to forage. (One of the mysterious questions of urban life for many is, "Why don't I ever see a baby pigeon?")

People may not see a baby unless they view a nest but they do see many juveniles without knowing it. The giveaway for pigeons is the color of the cere and for doves it is the lack of a little bluish dot at the fore corner of their eyes.

You'll have to look carefully but as all their feathers are fluffed so to is the bluish dot, making it possible to see it from this angle. It is the mark of a more than fledgling Mourning Dove.
Photograph by Jackie Dover
From Tulsa's Jackie Dover--
Hi, Donna--Thought you might like to see my backyard baby wren, up close and personal this morning. I'm not sure how old she is or if there are any siblings in the wren house with her. (If there are, then I guess she would be the publicity hound.)

Photograph by Jackie Dover
Just a couple quick snaps, affording some moments of quiet appreciation for a tiny life in a big world.
Jackie Dover
Tulsa Hawk Forum

And from NYC Botanical Garden Watcher Pat Gonzalez--
I took this photo at the NY Botanical Garden here in the Bronx. I've seen squirrels eat all kinds of stuff, they regularly raid the garbage cans there. But this one was for the books. The bagel is nearly bigger than he is!

Adaptability, the secret weapon of urban wildlife.
Photograph by Paul Anderson
Paul and Marian Anderson of Milton, Wisconsin, kindly allow me access to their faster Internet connection now and again. They had told me that there were a horde of brown bats that lived in the attic of the house next door so one evening I waited for their fly out and counted over 400 coming out from under the eaves before it became too dark to reliably count anymore.

This evening Paul went out with his camera and caught a few of those bats in the act of hunting.

Photograph by Paul Anderson
I've yet to figure out why people find bats unattractive if not downright creepy and ugly. Come on, they have cute little faces and they are mammals that fly. Not all so many species of those around to be sure. And just think of all the mosquitos they eat which then can't bite us.

I sent Robert Schmunk, main watcher of Red-tails Isolde and Norman formally of the Cathedral Nest, asking--

Is there any word as to how long the scaffolding and construction at the Cathedral may encompass St. Andrew?

Rob responded--

The scaffolding around the clerestory came down about May 1. The rest came down a couple weeks later, although there might still be some near the transverse arches that is still up.


If the new apartment building next to the Cathedral hasn't made the area unfavorable to hawks, perhaps there is hope that Isolde and Norman might be back to their old digs in time for the next breeding season.

An Update from Astoria Park Hawkwatcher Lisa P. She has the best luck!
Date: Friday, July 10, 2009, 10:14 AM

Saw two fledgings Monday-Wednesday in their normal spot in the trees.

I actually saw 3 this morning! Two sitting in a new tree ! The third was in a tree I always see them in. He actually flew onto the branch! They were talking too.

Donegal Browne