Monday, November 21, 2011

Could that be Isolde? Human Habituated Red-tails and the Albino White-tailed Buck

Photograph by Jeff Murphy

I've not yet received the photographs of this hawk, purportedly more detailed, taken while she was sitting on the building's antenna. But I did hear back from uptown residing James O'Brien of The Origin of the Species blog . I'd asked James about the possibility that the hawk in the photograph might be Isolde of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine nest located at 103rd St. and Morningside Drive.

James wrote that he didn't think that the Cathedral Hawks made it that far east, but that there were Red-tail sightings in Carl Schurtz Park which is adjacent to the East River. (It is the off season so hawks do more wandering outside their usual territorial boundaries so it doesn't completely exclude Isolde. DB) Would it be possible that Red-tails might have begun nesting over there unbeknownst to us?

Excellent question James.

So I sent the question off to the folks at The Carl Schurtz Park Association asking after any possible sightings of a Red-tail nest or past nesting activity. I can't wait to hear.

And while we're on the topic of human habituated hawks like the one above, and for those of you who haven't yet discovered the comments sections or don't check back in with previous blog entries, I received information about window watched Red-tails from another New Yorker, this one anonymous, with a popular fire escape.

Anon wrote-

Speaking about hawks becoming habituated to humans, most of the hawks I've seen sitting on my fire escape in Brooklyn fly away almost as soon as they see me. I view them from my window which is only about 5 feet away.

However, there was one instance where a juvenile Red-tail glanced at me and then completely turned around so that his back was facing me. I was surprised by how indifferent he was to my presence.

I responded- Dear Anon,

Unless the indifferent juvenile hawk on your fire escape was debilitated in some way, you very likely were looking at a young hawk born and bred very near people. Urban juveniles can be particularly oblivious to humans. You’re just part of their natal landscape like a tree or a taxi cab. Most of these urban juveniles eventually learn to be somewhat more wary once they are out and about on their own, though as far as I have observed they never become as reticent around people as their country cousins.

Next up from the world capital of albino wildlife, Wisconsin--

Amy Mattson of Mequon photographed a rare all-white buck this month on Sauk Road near Highway 32, outside Port Washington, WI.

Donegal Browne