Friday, April 22, 2011

Regarding Earth Day

The Playful Fledglings of Isolde and Tristan Enjoy Themselves, 2007

"All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day when they were first tried.

Trees towering in the sky, braving storms, for centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or an hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast–all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love.

Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity."

~~ John Muir

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pale Male "Smiles"

Photo courtesy of

Okay, just try and tell me that Red-tail Hawks don't have facial expressions and body language beyond basic alert or relaxed.

You know, there are other reasons that Pale Male is famous beyond the fact that he picked a very media savvy crowd to watch him and publicize his antics.

He has charisma. He is interactive with humans. He is remarkably cute faced at times, in much the same way that babies of many species have the built in cute factor that presses the buttons that make their caretakers continue to be caretakers even when the going gets tough .

AND for the next few days Red-tails in Love author Marie Winn will be answering questions
on the New York Times website which hosts Bobby and Violet's Hawk Cam over at NYU

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pale Male, Ginger Lima, Red-tail vs Crow, Chicken Eating Robin, Cooper's, Thirteen- lined Ground Squirrel, & John Blakeman

Photo courtesy of

Ginger Lima is still bringing grass and other nest bowl material to the bowl. I'm very pleased that the bowl lining is being thickened just in case there is an cold air leakage from the bottom they may have been affecting the egg viability since the carriage was installed.

Next up-
Here is nest watcher Brett Odom's answer to Melody's question about the exact position of the 888 7th Avenue nest site, and the place where the Peregrine suns herself--

The old nest is located on the east side of the building. The building is L shaped and the east side actually has two sides to it. It is the side closest to 7th Avenue, right above the Redeye Grill.

I was driving along High Street when I saw the bright buffy breast of a Red-tail on the top of a pole with three Crows diving at him. I pulled over, jumped out of the car, and the hawk had taken off with the crows in hot pursuit
. I re-spotted them across the street in a small tree. Off I went to get closer.

Typically the crows are cawing their brains out and the Red-tail is a yearling still sporting a brown tail. Though now the hawk is in a tree there is no diving at him as I assume the branches make diving dangerous to the crows.

Eventually the hawk has enough.

And he takes off over the field adjacent to the local high school which has a wooded nature area behind it.

A glide...

...a nip through the branches of a small tree...

...and back out the other side.

He goes for more elevation.

There isn't much in the way of a belly band on this hawk.

He heads for the trees and guess who is perched on the tip top of a tree? Another crow.

My question is whether this crow is a member of the family of crows that is pursuing the hawk or the sentinel of another family of crows that "owns" the nature area territory.

Young hawk goes for a descent into the trees. I look for the sentinel crow. She's gone. I look for the hawk and I've lost sight of him while looking for the crow. More eyes, I need more eyes.

Seed Robin sees a chicken bone that has been put out for the crows.

Seed Robin as it turns out is also Chicken Eating Robin. I want to know why this particular Robin has such a varied and opportunistic diet while the other Robins in the yard waited out today's early snow, waited for the melt, and then went about foraging in the yard like Robins "should". Like Robins have traditionally done all my life. I've tried feeding Robins other things during late snow storms. They stoically were not interested one bit. American Robins eat berries, fruit, worms, bugs, and the like

I assume from the fact that young Robins trot along behind their parents while they forage as juveniles, that Robins are learned eaters.

How did this Robin learn to eat seed and cooked chicken? Perhaps as Pale Male had the unconventional something that allowed him to become the original urban hawk, this Robin has a similar unconventional something going for him?

I do hope he nests nearby and I can see if he will feed his offspring from the buffet that he's been eating from himself.

I looked out the patio door and there was a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel sitting on his haunches. But instead of taking off like a shot at my movement beyond the patio door, he just stared. I ran to get the camera.

I came back. He was still staring. And kept staring. At this point, I got the feeling I could wave my hand in front of his eyes and he'd fail to notice. He's not poisoned or anything is he?
Hmmm. His toes are dirty at the tips and he's got dirt on his nose.

Still staring.

Ah, look to the left of Stunned Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel. That hole is fresh. Did he just dig himself out of an overwintering burrow and it's taking him a minute to "come to"?

An ecstatic experience? Epilepsy?

Then without any particular change in the environment, except that I moved, as I had been already for many minutes with a response from him, and he zipped off in a flash like one of his species "normally" would.

Got me.

Later, I was coming back from the post office and pulled into the driveway. For whatever reason I looked over the roof of the house into the top of one of the backyard Maples. And there, sun streaming through his feathers showing me the barred rounded tail, about to take flight after a group of Robins in the adjacent maple was a Cooper's Hawk! He started an attack flight, I threw open the car door for a better view, CLANG, and he veered back over the roof and headed away at speed.

When I looked up again, the Robins have now changed trees and are in the tree that the Cooper's Hawk started out in. What happened?

More eyes!

John Blakeman responds to my remarks about Bald Eagle Cams and the Cain and Abel Syndrome in Bald Eagles.

The Cain and Able Effect, where the older or larger eagle eyass slays the younger sibling seldom occurs in Bald Eagles. It's universal in Golden Eagles, which are extremely aggressive, but seldom in Bald Eagles, which are much, much more social. That's not to imply that younger or smaller Bald Eagle eyasses never die on the nest They do, but seldom from outright sibling aggression or from parental neglect or feeding preference for larger, more aggressive eaglets. Little Baldies that seem not be fed usually get enough food at a future feeding.
John Blakeman

Thank you John, I'm glad the syndrome isn't nearly as prevalent as I'd thought.

An example from PBS of a limited episode of the syndrome, not for the fragile.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eagle Nest "Air Waves"

Sheepskin Pond Eagle's Nest, Mallard Flush, and the Buffle in Bufflehead...Maybe.

Eagle Mom gives me "the look".

By the way, Blogger has told me that it has downloaded a video onto the blog. Just where it went "on the blog" I'm not sure. That said, you'll note that the above photograph, the following photographs of the Sheepskin Pond Eagle's Nest, and the video where ever it is, are remarkably blurry. There are reasons for this. The first two reasons I understand, the third is a mystery to me and I'd like your help in discovering what it is, if you can find where the video went, that is making it look like the air is full of "waves".


1. I'm not able to walk very far or carry much at the moment so the visuals were shot from over a mile away. A distance that overreaches my equipment.

2. There was a steady 30 to 40 MPH wind blowing all day. Therefore even with the camera on a tripod the wind was swaying the tripod like a lettuce leaf.

3. This is the mystery issue. The air between me and the nest appeared to be full of something that looked like "heat waves". They weren't as it's not even warm out let alone hot. There are some anomalies about the location that I wonder may have something to do with "the waves". Marching to the east of me and continuing north to the horizon are a line of high voltage towers. I'm standing between one of those and a transformer station. Perhaps 20 steps east to the tower and 10 steps west to the transformers. Plus about three quarters of the way to the nest is a reasonably good sized body of water.

I think Dad may have just done a fly-by to the nest but I couldn't tell for sure if he did a drop-off. Mom has gotten up out of the bowl and is standing with her back to me.

She leans over and her head disappears.

Then her head goes left. Eating herself or feeding an eaglet?

Her head goes back and is obscured by her body.

Then another lean to toward the bowl.

Her head sinks deeper in the bowl.

She steps into bowl.

Remains bent over.

Head up. Partially in shadow.

Focus my way.

Head back into bowl.

Shift of position.

Focus to bowl.

Focus to me.

Leans over.

Settles in, looks over shoulder.


As soon as I'm packed up and beginning to walk towards the big bisected pond, the male Bald Eagle appears and flies as I walk, in the same direction. Just keeping an eye on me, I'm assuming. I'm looking at him way over there as I walk along the verge of the road which is actually a median in the middle of the pond. When WHOOSH!!! I've flushed a pair of Mallards who seem to have been about two feet from my feet.

Here's the drake. Does he have a web foot print on his chest? What is that? Also note his tail curl, while not particularly aerodynamic I'm sure the females find it remarkably sexy.

He's playing rear guard and she is going to take to the water first.

Both continue to descend.

Great look at the iridescent wing patches.

She takes to the water. But as Drakes are supposed to lead at least according to this drake...

And he has his "landing gear" in postion, paddles ready, splash, and off they go.

This is a Bufflehead. Now I've always wondered why this little bit of a waterfowl was called a Bufflehead. Today this one acted rather like a bobble head duck. She'd begin madly paddling with her feet.

Then she would begin pumping with her head. Forward, back, forward, back, reminding me of what a child does with her legs to make a swing go higher. Could that move be the buffle in Bufflehead?

Did you find the video? I didn't either. Rats!

I'll try to put it on a blog post all my itself but don't hold your breath. My internet connection speed may well be the problem.

Donegal Browne