Thursday, November 05, 2009

Would Pale Male Approve?

Photograph by Donegal Browne
2008-Pale Male leaves the nest bowl on 927 Fifth Avenue after his turn at sitting the eggs, while Lola keeps an eye peeled for intruders before taking his place.

While searching the net, I ran across a blurb for Best Made...they make a line of, for want of a better way of putting it, boutique axes. I know, boutique AXES? It read--

"At Best Made, each axe model bears a different, evocative name: some of those in the summer collection are Conacher (with a white and green handle), and Auld Reekie (blue-grey and orange). Sources of inspiration include Canadian painter Tom Thomsom, the poet Robert Frost, and Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk who lives in Central Park (prices range from $200 to $450). Buchanan-Smith paints each axe, while Cameron builds a community: "Everybody who buys one hears from me personally, " he says. The fall collection will have double-bladed axes, too."

The text included testimonials about how terrific it felt to make your mark on the landscape by chopping down a tree...

One can't be completely sure what The Monarch of Central Park would think of such an attitude, but somehow I just don't think he'd approve of all this tree chopping business. As to having his name on an ax that makes people feel good about chopping down trees, particularly for self aggrandisement, I suspect he has better things to do with his time than to even think about them.

Donegal Browne

Enter Red Fox, Exit Unseen Bald Eagles

November 3, 2009

Rock and Jane Bald Eagle may be habituated to people to some extent but it didn't stop them yesterday from flying into their night roost during civil twilight, 5:05pm (the photo is enhanced so they can be seen more easily) and hiding behind a branch. Look center and you'll see the top of a white head poking out on the left side of the big branch and the other's tail poking out on the right.

Another poking out of the head to check on me a bit later.

And nicely tucked in they wait, until it is completely dark.

I then began shooting in the direction of the pair as it was utterly dark.

And when the exposure is pushed, there they are having spread out a bit for comfort while hidden by the lack of light. If you'll notice, Rock who is closest is fast asleep. You can see Jane's tail on the far side of him. And indeed they are roosting in the same tree and from what it looks like quite close together. And just like Red-tails and I assume most open roosting raptor pairs who roost closely, one looks one way and the other the opposite direction. The direction toward the viewer is protected by the thick branch and I can't see it but I'll wager there is a branch above their heads as well.

So having been circumvented by them yesterday I was very pleased to see both of them perched nicely in view across the river when I arrived this evening. I was just setting up the equipment when my phone rang, so I'm juggling the phone and the camera when...

November 4, 2009

Time: 5:44; 51 (All PM & CST)
Temp 42F (39F comfort level)

Wind 5 MPH Variable

...a RED FOX ambles into view, raises his leg and urinates on a clump of grass. I freeze. Unbelievable. Doesn't he know I'm here? He's going to be off in a flash. What about the Eagles? I do move my eyes to see what is happening with Rock and Jane and...UNBELIEVABLE, they're GONE! My cell slips out from between my shoulder and my ear. Red looks up and fully expecting him to bolt...

...not a bit of it. He continues his saunter along the Rock River. Wow, this isn't the way the last fox I ran across acted. She shot off when she noticed me from 50 yards away.

He sees something, focuses, and goes on alert. There's a voice coming from my phone, I ease down and get it.

When I look up, Red has gone over and is doing--What? Now the camera has to be adjusted for the light.

By the time I get the phone dealt with and the camera adjusted Red has walked into the field across from the boat landing I'm parked in and is chewing mightily on something.
(By the way if someone can figure out what Red is eating I'd be very pleased to know. I've scrutinized and gotten nothing definitive. Sometimes I think it's a fish, at others a squirrel, and even a pigeon. and likely someone else's leftover to boot. The exposure has been bumped up on all of them because by this point is was quite dark. So solve the mystery food if you can.)

A look around while chomping.

Then back to dismantling whatever it is.

More tugging. Is it a mite stiff?

LOOK! Jane and Rock are back. Is that a third Eagle with them or a lump of leaves? I wondered yesterday if there weren't three Eagles behind that branch.

While I was trying to figure that out, Red finished her meal and is heading off on what is likely a circuit she takes each night to forage.

Good night Red. See you tomorrow, maybe?
Donegal Browne
P.S. I got a report from James W. Blank Jr., who has contributed photos to the blog in the past, (he's was the one giving me the report on the phone when the Eagles exited and Red Fox entered), that there was a Red-tailed Hawk perched in the Oak closest to County M that is adjacent to the field that holds the Ms Nest from last season. Unfortunately he didn't have a camera with him so we've no chance of knowing if it was Mrs or Mr M or Primus or Secundus or a visitor. I'll go by and check out the spot tomorrow just in case that tree is now a favored hunting spot again.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cheryl Cavert on Tulsa's Art Deco Red-tailed Hawks

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
From Tulsa hawkwatcher and photographer Cheryl Cavert--
A few days ago I spotted a hawk again at Boston Avenue UMC on the glass panels at the very top of the tower.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
I went back the next morning and again spotted a hawk perched high, near the top right below the glass panels.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
The coloring looked a little different than the one I had seen a week earlier-lighter eyes and paler belly band.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
I looked around and a block away on a cell tower, was the other adult!

Hopefully over the next few months I can track down their nesting site and will send on any updates of Tulsa's RT hawks.

Hurrah! Go Cheryl. I can't wait for any news. If they choose the church it is a beautiful place for a nest to be photographed. Though as we've found with the taller buildings in NYC, the angles and sightlines can sometimes be tough for observation but well worth the effort.
Not to jump too far ahead but I was wondering that if the hawks did nest successfully on the church, what is the area on ground level like for fledglings coming off the nest? Is there a green space?

What about walk by traffic of pedestrians who might turn into guardians or new budding hawkwatchers?

Have you had a chance to note what prey are in the area?

And lastly, Edward of Dallas very much liked your photographs and asked what kind of camera and set up you use to get them.

Donegal Browne

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Red-tail Update-Odom on Charlotte of South Central Park, Cavert on the Art Deco Tulsa OK Hawk

Photograph by Christine Pittet
2009-Charlotte, Pale Male Jr's mate,
of the Southern Central Park Redtails

Photograph by Donegal Browne
2005-Charlotte and 2 eyasses on the Trump Parc nest

When I was contacted about the identity of the hawk in the top photograph, I identified her as Charlotte, but I also sent off an email to Brett Odom, who is one of the chief watchers of that pair these days for his opinion.

Here is Brett Odom's answer--

Hi Donna,

While I have never been so close to Charlotte as this picture has been taken, given the location and the very dark coloration of the body and the bright redness of the tail, I would agree that it is Charlotte.

I would be curious to know where Junior goes during the winter. It always unnerves me when he is gone.

Have you read the book Wesley the Owl by Stacey OBrien? I read it while on my honeymoon last month. It was a very interesting and insightful book about Barn Owls. There is a website at if you have not already checked it out.

Brett Odom

Thanks Brett! I too feel uneasy when a hawk disappears for the winter. This is an interesting case because in the other pairs in which one member takes a winter vacation in my experience so far it has been the female.

Some of Pale Male's mates disappeared during the colder months and Kay of the KJRH TV nest also took a lengthy sabbatical last winter. Red-tail expert John Blakeman has told us that as the female requires more calories than the male that they are likely to go south where the snow is less deep for easier hunting in order to fulfill their larger caloric requirements. Their other half , the smaller male, stays behind, guards the territory, and can often do well enough on the existing food supply. I also have the feeling that Mrs. M and Mrs. Steam also take a winter holiday from from the cold and deep snow here in WI.

It has been suggested that one of Pale Male's mates went to New Jersey for the winter as that may have been her natal ground. Particularly as Central Park tends to collect extra Red-tails in the winter due to the deep level of prey one would think there wouldn't be much of a reason to skedaddle other then to truly get out of town, take a vacation, and perhaps partake of the prey animals that Central Park doesn't support such as rabbits and voles.

If Junior is actually one of Pale Male's progeny his natal territory would be only a few blocks north of his own territory, and certainly someone would see him and recognize him with so many hawk watching eyes in that part of the park. So my thought is-- might he possibly be going back to the place where he spent time between when he left his parents and then returned to Central Park as a sexually mature bird and carved out his territory. Or perhaps it truly is a vacation. And Pale Male Jr. takes the time to escape the day to day and explore other parts of the world.

Which makes me even more nervous about his absence now that I think of it. But whatever he is doing, he has been doing it for years (He is a very experienced crafty little hawk after all) and one of the joys of the new breeding season is when someone reports the first sighting of Junior in the new season.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert

The latest installment of Cheryl Cavert's Tulsa Red-tail update--
A couple of weeks ago while heading into downtown Tulsa,

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
I spotted a Red-tail hawk on Boston Avenue United Methodist Church.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
It it is a 20th Century Art Deco masterpiece that is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
Its tower is 15 stories - 225 feet high!

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
These are a few views of the hawk at Boston Avenue UMC, Tulsa OK.

Thanks Cheryl! This building and it's possibilities for a nest site remind me of the Trump Parc in NYC where Charlotte and Pale Male Jr. had a successful nest in 2005. (See second photo from the top.)

Come breeding season this is one place in which I would camp out and watch to see if Red-tails are trading places some where on it.

In your long shot the hawk is perched on a form which obscures from sight and shields from the weather what may be the flat top of a pillar. A real possibility for a nest, be sure to check that out while you're waiting for some hawk flights in and out.

Tulsa has some wonderful opportunities for Hawkwatching. Enjoy!

Donegal browne