Friday, April 29, 2011

NYU Hatch ?, Edgerton Eagle Hatch, and Blakeman on Eyass Scrapping

I just checked the NYU Live Feed Hawk Cam (night vision lighted now) and is that a hatch? The eyass is hard to see due to Violet's sleeping body but there seem to be eyes in that white blob. Or is it just shell speckles?

Photo and the following intro plus John Blakeman essay courtesy of by way of Robin of Illinois

Franklin Institute Fighting Eyasses
Though the eyasses are still only a few days old, they are already starting to squabble and peck at each other. Here are the two oldest going at each other on Wednesday.

This can look pretty vicious, but John Blakeman gives us some useful perspective on the developmental need for such sibling fights.

"What you see is quite normal. With Red-tails, it’s never of any concern. No harm will come to any of the eyasses, unless the parents fail to bring sufficient food. If that occurs, a larger eyass can kill a smaller one, after profound hunger. That won’t happen here, by any means.

So, just as little kids “fight,” little eyasses do a bit of this. After all, these birds are born killers. All of what you see is normal nerve and muscle development. Just as with little children, the young eyasses have to learn how to use their muscles in coordination. Poking their beak at another sibling, even sometimes stealing a piece of food it is eating, is all normal and even helpful behavior.

Golden Eagle eyasses do this same thing. But universally, it turns out differently. It’s called the Cain and Abel Effect. Inevitably, the larger Golden Eagle eyass will slay the younger one. Golden Eagles most often lay two eggs, and both hatch. But the larger hatched eyass at some time before fledging will reach over and sink some talons into its brother or sister, killing it.

Our Red-tails are much more respectful and civil!

–John Blakeman

As I'm under the weather I hadn't visited the Edgerton Eagles for awhile. The lady of the farm told me that she thought there had been a hatch though she couldn't be sure.

Mom Eagle can always see me far better than I can see here due to her eagle eyes, but that is particularly the case as there is a twig barrier on the west side of the nest where I have to enter the area due to the idiosyncrasies of the crick.

The Glare from beyond the single upright twig from this angle.

Now she's eyeballing me from the other side of the twig.

I moved further east and suddenly like a little puppet popping up--an eaglet! Definitely a hatch. This eaglet could be off her haunches already.

A bit closer if less colorful.

See the little head top through the twigs?

Are there two heads? Or is the eaglet just slumped over?

Mom looks up.

Mom's beak opens. I couldn't hear any sound but that doesn't mean she didn't vocalize, I was likely at least 3/4 of a mile away and the marsh with its frogs, waterfowl, and Red-wing Blackbirds is loud.

Mom may see dad up there where I can't see him and he might have some food. They're not likely to feed with me in sight so I start to make my way back to the farm.

I'm far enough west that Mom behind her twigs is looking fixedly at something else besides me. I could see movement beyond the nest edge that might mean more than one eaglet but I can't be sure.

Well one can't have all the discoveries in one day. That would spoil the fun.

Speaking of discoveries, Screech Owl watching Jane of Georgia was out of town for three weeks and on her return has become rather mystified by the Screech Owl situation--

Hi Donna –

I’m now wondering, since I missed the Owl Identification class at birding school (J), if the rust colored Oscar is really the female. Could the gray Olivia have been a juvenile bird following Oscar?

I have been gone for three weeks and come home to no Olivia sightings and to seeing Oscar poke his/her head out the door several times during the day. I follow the Austin screech owl cam and see that the mother of the four babies on that site is in the box off and on during the day – so I’m thinking that may be what’s happening here/

I’m confused. I don’t know Whoo is Whoo!


Wow Jane, I don't know. What do you mean exactly regarding a juvenile bird following Oscar?

Unless Screechs are done with their breeding in your area, there shouldn't have been a juvenile around. Unlike most other raptors, young owls tend to be smaller than their parents when they fledge.

I'd suspect that both parents are in the nest box until fly out. Try laying in wait for the fly-out at dusk and see who comes out. If there has been a hatch, both parents will likely come out within a few minutes of each other to hunt.

Once the owlets fledge, they do follow the parents for training for a while and they'll likely be found roosting together and sometimes with their parents on a tree branch during the day or perhaps if the cavity is big enough they'll all go back there. Considering the size of most nest boxes that seems unlikely in your situation.

Let me know!



From New York City’s Jeffrey Johnson, regarding the latest chapter of Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot’s activities--

Ms Browne,
It's a tossup as to what I admire more, Quicksilver's intelligence or your patience. Thanks for sharing some of his life with us.
Jeff (Wild NY)

Hi Jeff,

Well Quicksilver and I have been together since he was three months old.
We've gotten used to each other I guess, though I admit he does try my patience on occasion as I no doubt try his.

For instance, today I caught him hanging upside down from the kitchen counter which gave him access to the corner cupboard carousel. There he was. beak down, toes clamped, making a hole in the bag of Frosted Flakes in preparation to helping himself. He does have a real taste for Frosted Flakes.

Now he could have tried to fight me for them, which some parrots might well have done, but Silver never does. He knows he's being bad and he's busted so he politely gets on my hand, rides back to his perch while listening to me lecture... and waits for his next chance. :-)

We do try to be civilized.

Donegal Browne

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday Miscellany-Stunned the Ground Squirrel, Goldfinch, Chris Crow, and Quicksilver Does Confetti

The Goldfinch have returned and are working on their breeding plumage.

Chris Crow indulges in a crow family favorite--Pasta!

I've now figured out how to get free confetti for New Year's Eve. All I have to do is supply Quicksilver with old phone book and TA DA!, he turns them into confetti.

He's happy, as obviously he loves shredding phone books, and I'm happy because I've got confetti but far better that that, if he's chewing phone books, he isn't chewing Nikon camera batteries, removing the upholstery from dining room chairs stitch by stitch, noshing pin cushions, trotting about with pins in his beak, gnawing the seals off camera lenses, ingesting the contents of the butter dish, punching beak holes in the top of Tupperware bowl lids in order to get a grip so he can pop them off and see what's inside
or making his way into the bedroom, climbing up the bed clothes, gamboling over my sleeping body, and then lifting one of my eyelids gently open by the upper lashes. Consider that view upon waking. All things he's done over the last 14 years when momentarily left to his own devices-- without a phone book.

Remember "Stunned", the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel who just sat there on his haunches and stared at me for ever so long? Well, upon observation, I think that Stunned has figured out that I'm the source of all goodies on the feeding floor and when he sees me, he halts activity and stares because he's waiting to see if I'm about to make another delivery of goodies.

Stunned is no dummy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pale Male Isn't the Only Red-tail Dad Who's Slow Off the Nest- Franklin Mom Does a Lola, Riverside Dad Missing

Photograph courtesy of
Pale Male vacates the nest bowl while Ginger Lima takes his place entering from the other side of the nest.

Photograph courtesy of

The Franklin Institute Red-tailed hawks in Philadelphia are the proud parents of 3 eyasses. And Franklin Dad, very much like Pale Male, is very devoted to his offspring and rather likes sitting the nest. Also like Pale Male, when Franklin Mom reappears, Franklin Dad doesn't hop right up. Oh no, in fact he rather, um well, ignores her, dum de dum, as if she weren't standing right over his shoulder staring or walking around on the edge of the nest waiting for him to vacate the premises.

As staring and pacing failed to get a rise out of Dad, Franklin Mom gave him a bit of a gentle headbutt, then paced some more. Dad looked up but still didn't HOP up. So next, I'm told there was a possible poke, while she moved around the edge of the nest. This eventually got him to rise. At which time she inspected the contents of the nest. Evidently finding all to her satisfaction she then settled in on top of the 3 wee white eyasses.

There were occasions when not only did Lola give Pale Male a bump, she followed it up with a beak poke and then, I'm assuming, not seeing enough action, it looked like she may have given Pale a pinch. He did hop right up on whatever the escalated action was, at any rate.

Without question the formel is the boss of the nest and some people believe she is rather the boss of the pair when it comes down to it. That may be part of the reason that the formel is larger than the tiercel is.

As to other Red-tailed Hawk Nests-

Rob Schmunk of
reports that though it might well be time for a hatch up at the nest behind St. Andrew at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, no feeding behavior has yet been seen.

And I received an email from Amy Devon, a watcher of the Riverside Nest--possible bad news. No one has reported seeing the male of the pair in several days. The is particularly scary as there are any number of rat bait stations in the area even though watchers have done their best to get them removed, they remain. This was the pair that lost their first clutch of eyasses to poison.

I don't have official word on this but I was told that the nearby restaurant is the entity placing the rat poison. Does anyone know for sure?

There has been some talk of a boycott of the restaurant, with flyers being distributed to explain it's origin but if the restaurant isn't the perpetrator that could be a misplaced action, though poor garbage sanitation by restaurants is regularly the impetuous for rat infestations in NYC Parks.