Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Comments Regarding Violet Plus Silver Watches the Hawk Cam

Blogger has been down. I've got quite a backlog so I’m making numerous small postings. So keep checking back and scroll down to make sure you've seen the previous posts of the day.

I don't know if Quicksilver happened to be on my shoulder at some point when I was reading the New York Times blog and saw the cat watching Violet, but today upon leaving Silver on his living room perch and retreating to the kitchen for a few minutes I returned to find him on my desk. (BAD bird! Very bad bird!) He was completely fixated by Violet and not altogether comfortable. See the raised feathers on his neck.

But he wasn't totally freaking out either. We live on the 27th floor in NYC, and once in a very great while a hawk will fly past the windows. At which time Silver will scream AWWKKK!!!, and fling himself to the floor. It's the only time I've suspected that Grey's might actually have a wired in alarm call. Otherwise no matter how frightened, he speaks English.

So it was very interesting watching him watch the hawk. He had some trepidation, hence the puffed neck feathers looking at the image of Violet, but not the trepidation he'd have had if he thought the hawk was actually there in the flesh. I've always wondered what he thought of the images on television. When bored he'll say, "Wanna watch TV" and he does want to. But it is also his phrase for telling me he wants to go back into the house if he's outside and doesn't want to be.

Strange speaking to another species who obviously thinks and is capable of communicating in my language but somehow at times how his thinking works and how he puts things together is just...well...different.

Don't they appear to be looking at each other? Images can lie.

Enough musing. Back to business.

Mai Stewart, long time contributor of many years to several of New York City's hawk blogs from an email received 5/12, expresses her opinion about the lack of removal of Violet's bad band and has collected a number of interesting comments from various blogs for others to read in case they missed them on the original sites.

What's going on is unconscionable. The DEC is a complete disaster, just wanting control while at the same time being one of the most incompetent and irresponsible governmental agencies I've ever heard about.

In that regard, I've copied below 4 blog postings (3 from today,1 from yesterday) (any red highlighting is mine) (all of which you may already have seen) because they stood out to me (except perhaps #24, para 3). (

(The first blog posting that Mai included has already been posted earlier so I have excised it from this post. D.B.)

The problem is, I don't see what can be done to light a fire under the DEC, which now has the control, having been ceded it by NYU, to get that band and whatever else is there removed from Violet's foot/leg so that her foot/leg can begin to heal.



From: City Room | Hawk Cam Rescue on the Ledge -- Readers' Comments 5/12/11


JH -- Virginia -- May 12th, 2011 -- 8:44 pm

So now the people at the DEC have decide to do nothing again.

I wish that a real raptor expert would be called in. Someone who knows about the birds and not just a vet who may not even be an avian expert.

Doesn't the US Fish and Wildlife Service have final control in these situations and shouldn't they be consulted? I have just sent them an email informing them of the situation so, if they do have the ultimate say, they will be aware of what it going on with the DEC.

46. Trev, Bronx, NY -- May 11th, 2011 5:56 pm --

I am not a vet but as an MD with surgical expertise, following this sad drama, I am hopeful. Looking at some closeups of Violet's leg, I am fairly certain that the arterial circulation to the foot is not or only minimally is the venous and lymphatic vessel return that is compromised, hence the swelling. There seems to be no infection and Viiolet seems to be in general good health otherwise, able to fly, hunt and feed and shows no lethargy, malaise or other evidence of systemic illness. I believe that if the band is removed and wounds, if any, cleaned,and Violet is returned to the nest, the swelling will resolve quickly as venous and lymphatic circulation is restored....this opinion is of course based on human not avian experience,...hope all goes well...
Trev Greene

Bruce Yolton post 5/12/11

Tonight was a delightful evening in Washington Square. Bobby was present most of the evening and Violet took a break from the nest.

The New York Times reports that Chris Nadereski and a vet from the Bronx Zoo will be on hand tomorrow afternoon to remove Violet's band. We'll see how they do. Both of these individuals aren't normally doing rehabilitation work with Red-tailed Hawks in New York City.

In general, the N.Y.S. D.E.C. chooses folks who have excellent curriculum vitae when the press is involved, rather than experienced but less credentialed individuals. Those who know the true details of the coyote Hal's death will understand what I'm talking about.

Update: No action was taken on Thursday. I have no details. I would suggest keeping an eye on the New York Times blog. Although her leg doesn't seem normal, she is no longer knuckling her talons. This is a good sign.

I can't be sure that Bruce Yolton (Urban Hawks) and I are referring to the same behavior in Violet but I have observed that the parents of very young eyasses always knuckle their talons under when near their young. Perhaps Violet has changed her behavior now because Solo the eyass is slightly older or is it that she can no longer knuckle her foot?

Earlier today I was capturing images off the HawkCam on the NYU Library feed. Violet was feeding Solo, all was well until Violet attempted to lift her swollen foot. She was unable to get it off the twig she was perching on for a few moments.

It appeared that the pressure of her weight had pressed the twig up tightly into the split between her swollen "toes". Her foot was stuck. After a momentary pause and a few good pulls she was able extricate it.

Unfortunately she then stepped over into the big wad of fishing line as she rounded the edge of the nest. It caught on her foot, brought her up a little short, which caused her to loose her balance with her limited use of one of her feet and she lurched forward. Only by whipping her wings out could she regain her balance and avoid falling onto the eyass.

To the good, her down and up movements seemed to disentangle her foot from the ubiquitous mono filament and she was able to continue round the edge of the nest and get into position to brood her eyass without further mishap. D.B.

I do have some blurry cam photos which document most of the above and will post them later today.

Donegal Browne

Some Good News Before More About Violet--Just Look What Oscar and Olivia Screech Owl Have Done!

Photo by Jane of Georgia
(Blogger has been down for two days. I've got quite a backlog so I'm doing multiple mini posts so keep checking back in and scroll down to make sure you've seen the previous posts of the day.)

Hi Donna -

With all the sad day to day news about Violet, I thought you might want some good news.

OMG. OMG. Olivia and Oscar have at least one baby! Just now (720pm EDT) I walked out onto my back deck and noticed movement at the owl house door. It was very small, light colored. Thought it may be Olivia at first. Ran for the binoculars and camera -- and returned to see a baby owl! Very light gray, fuzzy, pale beak. Snapped a poor quality picture, but am sitting quietly on the deck now, awaiting the second appearance.

So so cool!

Best wishes to all in the Violet camp!

Thanks for the good news, Jane. Yea! The stork has visited the Family O! Break out the cigars. Hooray for Oscar and Olivia! Excellent news! I can"t wait to find out if there are any more of those little guys in there!

Donegal Browne

Friday, May 13, 2011

Regarding Violet-Bobby Horvath Comments on the No Intervention Decision

Courtesy of NYTimes and NYU livestream hawk cam capture

My apologies everyone, Blogger has been down for two days. I've got quite a backlog so instead of putting it all in one post, I'm doing mini-posts, and I’ll try but things my not be strictly chronological as they've come in.) so keep checking back and scroll down to make sure you've seen the previous posts of today.

(Hawk cam capture) After feeding Solo and watching her determined efforts to get off her haunches, Violet fluffs down on her and cleans up the tidbits Violet missed in her earlier clean up.

I've decided to call eyass, Solo, until the NYTimes makes the naming decision as I've begun to feel a little disrespectful using the generic label all the time. Also until we get a better idea about which sex Solo is, I'm following the practice of Queen Elizabeth's falconers by using the pronoun "she" for a hawk of unknown sex instead of it. IT? Now that really does sound disrespectful.

Wildlife rehabilitators, Bobby and Cathy Horvath had originally been called in to assess and possibly intervene in Violet's behalf by NYU. After an onsite deliberation the Horvaths felt an intervention should be undertaken in order to help insure a future life in the wild for Violet, and as a way to alleviate Violet's current suffering from the ligating band.

Later the DEC and various experts were also called in by NYU for their assessment.

Upon receiving the news Thursday, that a decision had been made by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and various experts who had concerns about an intervention, a decision was made that there would be no intervention on Violet's behalf as had been previously announced.

I asked NYC Wildlife Rehabilitator Bobby Horvath if he had a comment pertaining to the news.

Here is Bobby's response--

"I totally disagree with the professional’s current assessment and their lack of any attempt to remove the band from Violet’s leg today. I will continue to pursue options to catch the female off the nest and remove the band."

For more on the Violet saga, go up and click on the large Palemaleirregulers at the top of the page.

Donegal Browne

Regarding Violet--John Blakeman

Trying to get up off her haunches and toddle after eating.

My apologies everyone, Blogger has been down for two days. I've got quite a backlog so instead of putting it all in one post, I'm doing mini-posts, and I’ll try but things my not be strictly chronological as they've come in.) so keep checking back and scroll down to make sure you've seen the previous posts of today.

When the news came in that there would be no intervention regarding Violet's foot, I asked John Blakeman if he had any comments in response to that decision. Here is what he had to say--


As you've surely seen in the NYT web article, I concur with the decision to take no action in regard to Violet. I watched her all day, and noticed just as the those on site did that she appeared very normal and un-distressed, particularly as revealed by her rousing.

Here's my perception of what's happened. I think she very clearly had some expanded swelling in the foot in recent days (but much subsided today). I think this was caused not so much by the band but by plastic or nylon filaments that got caught in the band and then got wrapped around her leg. I saw some of those threads or fibers last week, and I wondered about those in this regard, which I believe has so helpfully come to pass.

We falconers put leather jesses around the legs of our trained hawks. These, of course, are loose enough to allow full circulation, with no pinching or constriction, but the gap is small enough so that the hawk can't pull the jess off its leg. Just as with Violet, the hawk soon learns that the jess will remain and that it can't be bitten or torn off. After a few hours of trying to do that, the falconry Red-tail just forgets about it, just as a dog forgets about its collar and a horse its bit and bridle.

But falconers know, from the required two years of apprentice training, that if a jess is put on too tightly the hawk will not learn to accommodate it. Instead, it will incessantly bight and tear at it until it is worn away. That's exactly what happened, I think, with the plastic or nylon materials that got wrapped around Violet's leg, partially ensnared in the band itself. Some how, she was able to extricate herself from that ensnaring stuff, a matter the people observing her today on the nest could readily see (as could I on the web cam images). There is no longer any artificial material wrapped around her leg. Her swelling is subsiding.

Yes, the band is still too tight, and should probably be eventually removed, if Violet can be trapped in the summer. But it's very clear now that she's living adequately with the band, and there was no present need to try to capture her and snip the band off.

Clearly, the bander (licensed by the state and federal government -- that's the only way to even acquire one of these bands) used a band one size too small. There is a lot of banter on the message boards about how cruel and inappropriate it is to put these metal bands on free-flying birds. Those thoughts are not accurate. Literally hundreds of thousands of wild birds are banded each year by licensed bird banders, and the data these activities provide are invaluable in knowing with certainty the movements and migrations of the banded birds, and even more importantly (something that needs to be learned about NYC and other urban areas with Red-tails) is the typical life spans of the hawks in these unique populations.

Bird banding provides invaluable scientific information on wild birds, and when done correctly, banding causes absolutely no harm to the bird. This case was a most rare and unfortunate one.

We now understand the reproductive and migratory biology of urban Peregrine Falcons, solely from falcon banding activities and data recovery. Bird banding is not an evil thing. Quite the contrary. It provides invaluable and otherwise impossible insights into essential avian reproductive and migration biology.

John Blakeman

Apologies Blogger's Been Down. ON TO VIOLET!

My apologies everyone, Blogger has been down for two days. It's back up but I've got quite a backlog so instead of putting it all in one post, I'm doing mini-posts, and not strictly chronological as they've come in the past two days.) so keep checking back and scroll down to make sure you've seen the previous one. (This is the first of this day so the scroll down part doesn't count with this one.)

NYU Hawk follower Linda Maslin left a message concerning Violet's condition on NYC Audubon's Facebook page.
Why was nothing done to help Violet? It would have been so much better to try to help her this week while the eyass was small. It also would have been better to have Bobby Horvath do the job. His expertise with red-tails is known throughout the region. I hope this is not a missed opportunity! Violet needs help NOW!
Here is NYC Audubon's response

NYC Audubon

NYC Audubon has full faith in the team assembled by DEC to address this issue. The risks of intervening are great, and given the improved function seen over the last few days, it is clear that now is NOT the time to intervene. NYC Audubon has tremendous respect for Bobby Horvath, and turn to him for assistance with most raptor issues. The DEC team includes wildlife experts with even more experience than Bobby, hard as that may be to believe.


Thursday, May 12, 2011


Hawk Cam | Rescue of Violet Is Planned for Thursday

According to the New York Times City Room Blog, around midday, Chris Nadereski, who specializes in Peregrine Falcons, will attempt to capture Violet with a baited trap placed near the nest but not on it.

According to report, at this point there is very little chance that Violet will be returned to the nest. If she is taken so too will be the eyass. Once at the Bronx Zoo, the formel and her eyass will be separated from each other for "treatment". What are these people thinking?

Not only that but they appear to be considering taking down their nest. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE????

I so dearly wish that the Horvaths had been allowed to treat Violet before her foot got so bad, plus they have vast amounts of hands on experience with just this sort of thing with this specific species, Red-tailed Hawks. And lest we forget they really like animals, are extremely nurturing , and empathetic. Instead the whole thing has rather turned into a fatcat politico ego feast.

Be aware that what John Blakeman really said has been cut so much it has been reduced into the print equivalent of sound bites. With the same result, the gist and flavor of what he actually said, is rather altered.

Below see link, read the today's post of the matter for yourself. Then come back here and read the following which I left in their comments section.

Below find the comment I posted to the comments section on the page abov.

Though I would have much preferred that Violet's band-gone-bad had been removed immediately when the problem was discovered while she still had some use of her foot and was mobile, at least it will now be removed and perhaps she will have a chance to live.

If Violet and her eyass do have to be relocated to the Bronx Zoo, why would they be separated for treatment? Is it that Violet's strong instinct to protect the eyass might be dangerous to care givers? Or that Violet would be too incapacitated at this point to care for the eyass properly? Or?

Regarding the the baited trap that is to be placed near the nest but not on it. At what distance will it be placed?

I have been taking field notes on Red-tailed Hawk pairs and their nests, both urban and rural, for the past seven years, and it has come to my attention that there appears to be a \"no kill\" zone, rather like an invisible bubble encompassing an unseen perimeter surrounding the nest, in which prey is neither hunted nor killed, It will be interesting to see Bobby and Violet's behavior and if the prey within the trap will be \"killed\", depending on the distance from the nest.

Ordinarily the only creatures attacked within the no kill zone are possible nest intruders. Perhaps the trap itself will be seen as an intruder and therefore a parent will be trapped after all and the ruse successful.

Speaking of which, since Bobby is currently the dominant hunter of the pair, as that is the tiercel's chief occupation at this point in the season with a sitting formel and very young eyass on the nest, how can you be sure that it won't be Bobby who is trapped instead of Violet?

I have read that Bobby and Violet's nest may be destroyed. Why would that be considered? Bobby will still be in residence even if Violet has to remain at the Bronx Zoo. As you know Bobby will frantically look and call for Violet, unless he has seen her taken away but eventually Bobby's bond with Violet will fade and the nest will be a draw for Bobby to attract the best new mate possible in the pool of females.

Good nest locations in urban environments are at a real premium. Bobby and Violet managed to make their nest stick to a window ledge without sides or anchors and Bobby and his new mate might not be so lucky next time. Nest materials are also at a real premium in urban environments. The addition of a second year's worth of materials on top of those from the first plus more practice in copulation, could well mean a hatch of the full clutch next year.

I realize that the reinterpretation of International Migratory Bird Treaty allows the destruction of nests when they aren't \"in use\" but why would we as humans want to destroy a nest?

Pale Male and the nesting urban Red-tails that have followed in his lead with their hawk cams and their intimate view of raptor family life are the absolute best ambassadors for nature that we have in a world where nature has become so distant from the lives of most people that they've never even seen it. They don't know what will be missing if it disappears so have no urge to preserve it. But those who watched Bobby and Violet making their way in the metropolis, going about their normal hawk business of setting up housekeeping and starting a family will never feel the same about catching a momentary glimpse of a distant soaring hawk. That is no insignificant speck in the sky. That is a beautiful creature with a life, a personality, a mate, hopes for offspring, who deserves a place on this earth.

Whatever the despair of the moment, we eventually remember that next year come January, Bobby and even Violet (As Ben Cacace, one of the original watchers of Pale Male said, \"Never underestimate a Red-tail.\"), yes, Violet may convalesce and be back in time for January courting.

No this season will likely have no grand triumphant ending. As Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, has so often said, Hawk watching is exaltation and despair. Though now many of us feel despair about how things are likely to turn out this season. Think back a little, this year has surely had exaltation. Think of the day that one of the unhatchable eggs developed a crack and what? Before long that little bobble headed two tiered puff of fluff appeared and his mother fed him. Now there's a big fat wow if I ever say one!.

Yes there is no question that at this moment despair may be the feeling that ends the season for this nest.

But as any hawk watcher will tell you, even in the midst of despair, even if Violet disappears for awhile to regain her health, if in New York City one can head down to Washington Square Park to see what Bobby is up to and where ever you are, there are hawk pairs nesting somewhere nearby and perhaps you could find out how their year is going.

And there is always, always the thought that the next hawk season will come round again with it's own share of new exaltations.

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Violet of Washington Square & NYU, John Blakeman, DEC, Dumpsters, Rat Poison, Riverside Park, Central Park, Rose and Vince of Fordham, Clutch Size

Screen capture courtesy of NYTimes CityRoom Blog

May 10, 10:40am, Violet stands on her left leg with her right up and it isn't because she is relaxing. The metal band is making her foot so swollen she can't use it, besides the fact that this band has become life threatening.

And lest we forget look at that fishing line all over the place that tethered Violet to the nest for awhile and made her leg worse.

What happens when the eyass (I've decided to call her Solo until whoever gives her an official name.) starts toddling around and gets it tangled around her neck? It will be just a tad late to get Bobby Horvath up there to take care of it, won't it?

I've had quite a number of questions come in basically asking, WHAT IS GOING ON WITH VIOLET? WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO DO SOMETHING?

From the NYTimes City Room Blog--

"Plans to remove Violet from the nest and treat her injured leg are on hold for now as the State Department of Environmental Conservation has stepped in to take charge of the case and has opted to monitor her for now and seek more opinions, citing concerns about the welfare of the eyas in the nest.

"Removal of the adult, even for a short period of time, would endanger the hatchling and eggs," the department said in a statement Monday evening.

(Ah, the formel does leave the nest on occasion. we've seen her do it. Have you guys ever watched a hawk nest? Violet hasn't been holding her feces since Solo hatched and Red-tails don't ordinarily defecate on the nest.)

New York University had reached out to the state, ... "

(More at link above)

Reached out to the state? That was NYU's first mistake but they didn't know they'd be hearing from clueless bureaucrats who have never watched a hawk's nest, care more about not looking bad as per a decision, or not offending important personages than they do about the animals they are paid to protect...

Don't get me started.

Actually I'm all ready started. In fact I'm rather in a fury.

How do we know that the DEC is clueless? Note the first paragraph written by the NYTimes bloggist. The writer uses "eyas". The proper name for what comes out of a Red-tailed Hawk egg. Even the writer knows that!

Now what term is used by the DEC in their statement? Hatchling?

Get a grip! No biologist worth his salt uses the silly generic term
hatchling about anything. It's the desk potatoes who are calling the shots here and as Bobby Horvath's wildlife rehabilitation licenses come from the DEC, they are his bosses and he's completely powerless to do anything about it until they say he can.

Just makes you sick doesn't it?

In the meantime hawk enthusiast Mai Stewart sent an email to hawk expert John Blakeman concerning Violet and the Portland nest in which four eggs were laid.

I don't as yet have Mr. Blakeman's permission to print the full email as I didn't send an email asking him until he was likely asleep. Therefore I'll print the second portion and wait for permission for the first half, which very likely will appear here tomorrow.

First Mai's email-

Dear John,

Re Violet (NYU) -- what are your thoughts about her foot/leg condition, her ability to feed/raise her eyass, and the long-term consequences for Violet? Can she be saved? I know plans are in the works w/ the Horvaths and NYU officials to try to capture her, remove the band, quickly treat the injury and return her to the nest. Do you think this can save her leg/life?

Have you had any similar experiences? I know the Horvaths are excellent rehabbers and want to help if possible. It is very hard to watch Violet struggle with this injury.

Re Portland, OR -- apparently 4 eggs were laid, but only 3 have hatched -- is it unusual for an RT to lay 4 eggs? We've only seen 2 or 3 here in NYC. The 3 hatched eyasses appear to be thriving, and their mother extremely attentive and diligent.

Thank you,


And the second portion of Mr. Blakeman's email to Mai--

... She [Violet] already favors her one good foot when standing, and we falconers know from years of experience that when a hawk can't use both feet, when it must stand preferentially on just one foot, it's just a matter of time before the good foot gets "bumblefoot," an infectious sore. When that strikes, the game is over.

In the East and Midwest, four eggs are simply never laid. If there are any authenticated cases of a clutch of four, I'm unaware of them.

But in the West, there are giant populations of ground squirrels, of several species. These are rather easily and abundantly captured. So the large prey population, along with the mild winters, allows formels to load up on nutrients and lay and hatch four eggs.

Clutch size in Red-tails (and most raptors) is directly controlled by the availability of prey. Here in rural northern Ohio, our Red-tail nests average 1.6 eyasses per nest. We simply don't have a lot of big rodents running around the row-crop landscapes here. Corn and soybean fields are biological deserts. The only habitat for prey rodents is ditches and fencerows, so local Red-tails really have to work to find enough prey to produce more than one egg.

--John Blakeman

Photograph courtesy of
The Dumpster in Riverside Park earlier in the month.

Though we have been promised that no more rat poison will be placed in Washington Square Park during hawk season. Rat Poison and nasty sanitation is still firmly in place in Riverside Park and Central Park.

(Can you believe they are risking the poisoning of world famous Pale Male? Talk about possible really BAD press.)

On the May 4th update, of this blog which concerned rats, poison, and garbage disposal in Riverside Park. I posted a letter that contributor Karen Anne Kolling had sent to, among others, Mike O'Neil of the Boat Basin Cafe, in which she told them just what she thought about the death of Riverside Dad, overflowing dumpsters, and rat poison. She received a response from Mr. O'Neil part of which said he was going to obtain more dumpsters. Then today, I received an added tidbit about the Riverside dumpster in the comment section of that post from Bruce Yolton, of urbanhawks.

Bruce pointed out that the dumpster that is in Riverside Park is one that is made for yard waste not food waste and therefore isn't sealed. Rats can access the goodies through the unsealed seams making it an easy buffet for rats as soon as the day's light begins to dim. Therefore it isn't just more dumpsters that are needed but the correct dumpsters for the job and lest we forget, dumpsters that are used correctly.

Which brings us to the dumpster outside the Boat House in Central Park.

Photograph courtesy of

Note the differences between the two dumpsters.

Yes, folks, we're getting a little seminar on dumpsters this evening.

Directly above is a dumpster which is built for garbage. By the way, technically garbage is refuse that contains food waste. You'll also note that flapped back segment on the enclosed portion of the dumpster is a lid that is supposed to close the dumpster and keep garbage bags from toppling out or blowing out of said dumpster where rats would have extra easy ground access.

Though rats being adaptive clever creatures they've been know to find avenues to the tops of dumpsters as well. Oops, shouldn't leave them open like that, should we?
Beyond that, though I've run across a few garbage dumpsters in my time in which the lid was so well fitting, so tightly flush to the bottom that you couldn't even poke a piece of old chewing gum in without opening it.

Whether this one is snug is really beside the point though isn't it?

So even though the Boat House has cleaned up their act enough not to have plastic bags of garbage stacked so high in the dumpster regularly that many ended up on the ground as happened in the past, it just isn't good enough. Their sanitation has a big hole in it or they wouldn't have all those boxes of rat poison all over the place.

Photograph courtesy of
Including one right next to a kitchen door. Disgusting or what?

Once again, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." Well members of our species anyway.

You know between the human idiocy surrounding Violet's suffering and rat poison laying around like candy, I think I need a little diversion before I become catatonically depressed

BATTLE OF THE BATH PART 2-A momentary diversion to take us away from our frustration and fear concerning Violet on one hand and rat poison on the other. Then we'll get back to more avian news. Some of which is even good!

When we left the Battle of the Bath Part 1, Mourning Dove had flown over to the bath, looked at the scary crowd, and decided that perhaps a drink was enough for the moment. She then flew off to the twig pile to wait.

Mourning Dove has just made her exit and Red-winged Blackbird, Starling, and Grackle go back to their baths.

Baths which seem to being lasting for rather a lengthy period of time for those waiting in line on the twig pile for their baths.

Male Rosebreasted Grosbeak, left, lets out an aggressive squeaky metallic, keeck, in the direction of the bath.

And he's off toward the south, Mrs. Grosbeak watches him go and Mourning Dove is distracted by some other doves in the park.

Mrs. Grosbeak goes back to watching the bowl.


Because she knows something we don't.

Mr. Grosbeak has done a stealth flight to below the bowl, where the bathing birds can't see him. He clings to the pebbled side of the base, bracing himself with his tail while he listens.

Wait a minute! Did Grackle leave and Cowbird break in line to get into the bath. You just can't trust the black bird clan.

They bathe; he waits a few moments.

Then WHAAAAA!!! Starling flings himself unceremoniously across the bowl.

Look at Starlings posture and face--Jeez, that was really embarrassing!

Beak out of joint, Starling considers making an issue of Grosbeak's entrance. Then thinks better of it and goes back to bathing.

Grosbeak lets out another of his aggressive keecks.

Grosbeak continues to stare pointedly. Starling pauses, Red-wing doesn't.

Then suddenly Starling and Redwing are staring at each other. ???

Grosbeak continues his, "I'm waiting" stare. Starling splashes mightily and Red-wing squawks in complaint.

They glare at each other.

Then both crowd into the center of the bowl where there is actually some water left and try to out splash each other.
They come up for air and look in opposite directions. Grosbeak waits.

The bathers go for it again. Grosbeak tired of waiting, pulls another trick from his bag, and does a feint towards the bowl but stays in place.

Red-wing has had enough and leaps into the air.


One down, one to go.

To be continued...

Photograph courtesy of
Pale Male and Ginger Lima doing their jobs awaiting a hatch.
Fingers crossed!

As we could all use some good news, blog contributor Karen Anne Kolling of the Gonzo Deck in RI has sent in some great Whooping Crane news. Yes, I know, it's about time there was some great Whooper news.

"Friends of Necedah NWR is reporting that W1-06, the first ever wild hatched Whooping crane in the Eastern Migratory Population has become a Mom herself! This is the FIRST "second generation" Whooping crane in the reintroduced population and the grandchick of #17-02 , First Mom, the crane that was shot November 30, 2009 in Indiana."

And some news concerning Rose and Vince's nest at Fordham from hawkwatcher Chris Lyon--

I saw Rose on the nest yesterday, looking down into it with great interest, and doing a bit of mantling (shading the nest with her wings and tail), even though it was cool and shady. I thought I saw some white fluffy feathers, but I never saw a little hawk head, or definite movement. The nest is really built up now, and without being able to look down from a higher level, it's just not possible to say for sure what's going on until such time as the young are able to move around. Hopefully they're not only hatched but healthy. I'll know for sure in two weeks, when I get back from vacation. In the meantime, I'm sure Richard Fleisher will be checking in.

It sounds like you might have a hatch! Congratulations.

Donegal Browne

Images for Comparison of NYU/Washington Square Red-tailed Hawk -Violet's Leg from March 12, 2010, October 30, 2010, and May 6 & 7 2011

Photograph courtesy of Zach L.
March 12, 2010
This was the original photo
in which I noted that the formel (Now named Violet.) of the Red-tail pair building a nest on 1 Fifth Avenue was banded.

Photograph cropped and lightened for a better view.
There is some swelling visible below the band. The band is obviously tight though she was doing nest building chores without obvious problems.

And a closer crop.

Photograph courtesy of
My apologies to the photographer for adjusting the photo below for purposes of documentation.

October 30, 2010
6 and 1/2 months since the perched photo above. Compare her legs and feet.

October 30, 2010
Obvious swelling both above and below the constricting band. Plus unnatural positioning of the talons during flight.

Screen captures by Julia G.
Courtesy of NYU Hawk cam and The NYTimes

May 6, 2011
Approximately 6 months since the flight photograph above. The foot is bent in an unnatural angle and there is more swelling between the band and the talons. Violet appears to have less control and movement in the appendage.

Violet is the hawk on the left.

May 7, 2011
It may be positioning but Violet's foot looks more swollen and contracted than it did one day previously. She appeared to have more trouble keeping her balance on that leg on the 7th than she did on the 6th.

Even with her great attention to caring for her first eyass it is possible that Violet might loose her balance and accidentally injure or kill him.

There is little room for error or accident on a hawk's nest. Exactly the reason that if capable a hawk parent curls his or her talons completely under the foot when in the nest bowl.

The look of Violets right foot reminds me of what occurs when a city pigeon's foot becomes entangled in thread. Swelling continues to rise causing ligation, which causes more swelling, and even more ligation until eventually the foot atrophies completely and falls off.

Donegal Browne

Monday, May 09, 2011

Good Poison News for Washington Square, But a Caution, Good Screen Captures of Violet's Foot, and Plans for Her Treatment

NYU's Myisha Priest has been pursuing the rat poison problem in Washington Square Park. Though the posted notices say that bait boxes were recharged on April 30th, the New York Times reported, and Myisha received an email confirming this, that the bait boxes in Washington Square Park were last charged on April 22. Officials say that the bait boxes will be removed from the Park in deference to the hawks, Bobby and Violet, who have just hatched an eyass across the street on one of the top floor window ledges of NYU's Bobst Library.

This is excellent news! Thank you, Myisha and all who took steps to bring this matter toward a possible happy ending.

But while the poison was out, either Bobby or Violet could have suffered and died of secondary poisoning just as Riverside Dad did while preparing for young.

Photo by Francois Portmann

On April 30th, 2008- Francois Portmann took this photograph of the Houston Street Mom as the clock was counting down on the hatch date.

It appears that hawk dads have a pretty good idea when the eggs are supposed to hatch and as the date draws near, they go into a hunting frenzy. They want to make sure that Mom and the kids have enough to eat when the time comes. Houston Dad surrounded Houston Mom with quite a number of rats. If rat poison had been set across the street from their nest on April 22 as was the case at Washington Square this year (the hatch date being closer to the rat bait charging), and Dad fed everyone with a high percentage rat diet, someone could well have gotten poisoned by the embarrassment of rat riches set for the birth feast.

Riverside Dad was poisoned during the rush to hunt and cache a large amount of food for his upcoming family. In 2008, all three eyasses were poisoned on the nest in Riverside Park.

In 2010 the Parks Department announced on in mid May they would not set bait out in the Manhattan Hawk Pair territories. One would hope that that was to happen this year as well but it was already to late for Riverside Dad.

Of course we think the answer for rat control is obviously sanitation but if they insist on using poison, it needs to disappear well before the dad goes into birth feast hunting frenzy right on through the time in which the tiercel is attempting to feed Mom and often three voracious eyasses.

Red-tail Dads are worked into a hunting frenzy and may not be as choosy as they are normally or it might just boil down to the higher the number of rats eaten, the more chance there is someone will die.

Rat poison needs to disappear from Red-tail territory by April to make sure the poisoned rats are gone before the Dads are doing double duty hunting and caching.

As the poison is disappearing from Washington Square now, please do write a cordial sincere thank you note to Park and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

Also ask if poison is being removed from all the nesting territories this year. And if the same can be done during all seasons to come with the start date being earlier as it isn't only fledgling Red-tails who make mistakes these days with the tremendous potency of the second generation rat poisons.

Also let him know due to hawk Dad behavior and the number of poisonings in the last few years that the ban needs to be in place for the full breeding season--before the hatch, during eyass feeding, and fledging season.

To send an informative thank you note go to-

And a P.S. perhaps? Specifically asking why the bait boxes are still in Riverside Park.

Julia G. our capture queen, has reformated her screen captures of 05-06 and 07 for a much better view not only of the eyass but of Violet's injury. Notice where tiny eyass is looking.

Now where is tiny eyass looking?

And now?

Tiny eyass keeps her eyes on Mom face (the place where the food is distributed) at all times.

05-07-2011 Tiny eyass watches where Violet went.

05-07-2011 Bobby is on the right and Violet on the left. Compare his legs to hers than her left leg and foot with her right.

Robin of Illinois sends an update on how eyass is doing today, 05-08-2011--

I just got a good look at Violet's eyass as Violet was partially up, and rearranging an offending stick. The eyass is clearly thriving. Still no signs of life from the other two eggs.

Also it is my understanding that wonderful wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath will attempt to momentarily capture Violet for onsite treatment. They will take the constricting band off her leg, treat it, and get her back to the nest in as few minutes as possible. The attempt will be made sometime mid-week if all goes according to plan.

As we've been concentrating on the despair and exhalation of Urban Red-tail Hawks the rest of the biosphere has been going about it's business. Today one of my burning questions about Seed Eating Robin was answered. The Question? Does he prefer a particular kind of seed as his species historically doesn't eat seed? Look carefully. Today he preferred cracked corn.

The Chipping Sparrows are courting. Every time the male sees the female he begs piteously like a chick.

At the bath it was all about how many species could be in the bowl at the same time. In the water are a Starling and a Red-wing Blackbird. Upon her arrival the pacifist Mourning Dove decided that a drink of water would suffice on this visit.

And Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel made my day by standing up and showing me her cleavage.

Donegal Browne