Saturday, April 03, 2010

Updates and Red-tails at War

When the news came in about Athena, I had been working on a long sequence of photographs about two fighting Red-tails, plus some updates. Blogger doesn't allow a change in sequence. The date a post is started is the date sequence it stays in. Therefore as I finished that earlier post tonight, to view it please scroll down past the Athena post.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Beautiful Athena Has Died

Photograph by Donegal Browne
In the moment above Athena had just brought her foster son Hous his dinner.
Athena of the Astoria Park Triborough Bridge nest has died. She leaves behind her bonded mate of years, Atlas and a nest with eggs. This is how the story unfolded--
First, Wildlife Rehabilitator Bobby Horvath--

I received a vague call today from Animal Control. They dropped off a redtailed hawk at AMC [Animal Medical Center]. After numerous phone calls to the hospital, the regular dr. and tech we usually deal with were both off today I decided to drive in to pick it up.

After an hour and a half drive and waiting another 45 minutes there since nobody was able to find the injured hawk the office manager finally came over to me and apologized for the confusion but another dr. from AMC actually drove the bird to Animal General since AMC had nobody experienced to handle the bird. I called from the road and Cathy called Animal General and spoke with Karen to get particulars. It was an older huge bird she said and banded . It is Athena-- we traced her back by her band and we are trying to get her back tonight . If not tomorrow the latest. She has head trauma, blood coming from her mouth and a leg injury as well. I know she was . Forget it all, As I Am writing Cathy just told me she died there. I'm sorry I'll find out more.


From Jules Corkery, one of the first watchers and a faithful guardian of Athena, Atlas, their nests, and their fledglings--

Hi All
I know Bobby is at work and Cathy might not have had a chance to be on line tonight. Peter, who was of great assistance to the Horvaths
tonight, might not have had a chance to report either.
I will just add to the information that Bobby reported earlier today
only because I realized from Jeff's post that it might not be clear
how she died. According to Cathy, Athena was probably hit by a car on the Triborough Bridge.
It's an amazing story and I would rather the people who were involved tell it.

Thank you, Bobby, Cathy, Peter, and the fire department for stepping
in to help Atlas now that his mate is gone.

She was an incredible bird. Let's a pair they had 8 fledges that we know of as well as a few adopted little stinkers. I'll never forget watching her from the comfort of my kitchen during a 3 day long nor'easter storm April 2007 when she sat on her nest protecting her eggs from that powerful wind and snow. Graceful, smart, and so impressive.

I have a few pictures from this evening but I need to lighten them up a little so you can actually see them. Will post asap.


My sympathy to all and thanks to those who tried to save her. Athena was well loved by many including myself, and she will be missed.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1 Fifth, and Junior and Charlotte Updates, Portmann Pix, and Red-tails With a Definite Ax to Grind (What IS Going On Here?)

From Francois Portmann, another memory-- Athena coming out of the East River after a bath.

Photo by Zach Lemle
From Zach Lemle, who keeps an eye on the 1 Fifth Hawks--

It's got a half a squirrel or bird in it's talons... early dinner I guess.

Zach, could that be Archie making a delivery to Whitney?

And an update from Brett Odom, chief watcher of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte, the Southern Central Park Hawks-

Hey Donna. I just wanted to provide you with an update of Charlotte and Jr. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide any conclusive evidence today of an egg or even brooding behavior, but I can relay the following:

For the past 6 days I have not seen either Charlotte or Jr. However, this morning when I walked into my office I saw Jr. just as he landed on the nest ledge. He walked behind the glass and when I looked through my binoculars I could tell that Charlotte was also behind the glass standing up on the nest. Jr. then walked out from behind the glass and flew off. I continued watching Charlotte and I could tell that she was engaged in eating motions. She was definitely pulling the flesh off of something and eating it. Junior must have just brought her a meal.

Now, I am not sure if Charlotte had been on the nest all this time or perhaps she showed up just a few moments before Jr. and before I arrived in my office. While she was eating I had to leave my office and when I returned I could no longer determine if Charlotte was still behind the glass on the nest.

Perhaps it is good news that I have not seen Charlotte for 6 days soaring above CP or sitting on the Essex House sign. Maybe this means she has been sitting on the nest all those days and I just cannot see through all the dirt and the grime on the window to see her outline. Also, she could be sitting behind the afore mentioned plastic bag which has further decreased visibility through the glass.


Photo by Francois Portmann
More bad raptor news from Francois Portmann, it appears that the Great Horned Owl nest in the NYBG has failed. Visit his site for some cheer including the above Mallard hen plus the relaxing seal.

This is the post I was working on when the news arrived about Athena. I'd been out driving from one body of water to another looking for migrating water fowl when suddenly I saw a pale Red-tail sitting atop a power pole. 99% of the time stopping and attempting to get a photo of one of these power pole hunters is an act of futility. The minute I pull the scope out of the car, they hot wing it out of there so I wasn't holding out much hope...

Following my best procedure so far, I pulled past the bird a good way as opposed to stopping before going past the hawk. I left the motor running and the radio playing. I then took the above photo before pulling the scope out to digiscope. Wow. The hawk is still there. Though you'll note something if you look carefully that I didn't see at the time.

There are actually two Red-tailed Hawks sitting on poles next to each other. This rarely to never happens even with bonded pairs.

I pulled the scope out, put the camera on, focused, and big WOW, the hawk hadn't even looked at me yet. What's the distraction that is making me so unimportant?

Okay, that's it. I'm getting the look. But no. It's then I notice another Red-tail make a couple of very short passes over this one. There is a high wind by the way. An attempt to copulate but the wind is buffeting the hawk so he can't get into position?

As it turns out that would be a big NO!

Because when Two lands he goes into a very aggressive posture. One appears to be ignoring Two. Or the hawk version of ignoring anyway.

Because when One turns his head, suddenly his head feathers have taken on a distinctive puffed "hairdo", his hackles are raised so high.

Interestingly, Two then takes off...

...and goes back to his previous perch on the other pole.

Then Two comes off that perch again and does some more passes at One.

One either raises his hackles and stares or pretends not to notice Two.


...Two then flies down and perches directly below One.

One appears to lean over and watch Two who appears to he watching for prey.

Two goes back to his original perch. ???

One appears to take a moment to look at me.

Two takes off his perch and screams the famous KHEEEeeee, trademark call, while passing below One.

Still screaming, he starts to circle back gaining altitude.

Here Two comes, One is still giving him his back.

More back.

One gives a look.


And then BAM, contact.

One is knocked off the perch.

Back he comes.

BAM! More fisticuffs. I've never seen this much contact in the city, ever.

Two comes off the perch. Note One passing the left pole.


By this point I've lost track of who is whom.
(Somehow I skipped a photo right here, the bird heading for the top of the pole, I think One, perches and then comes off the pole like a bullet after the other hawk.)

Then back to jockeying for position.

Is a tail feather being pulled out?

More screaming.

Continue down to Park 2 below in the next post.