Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pale Male, Ginger Lima, Bobby and Rosie of Washington Square Park's Nest Cam,the Chagrined Cooper's Hawk, and Unreleasable Eagles Have Releasable Young

Photograph courtesy of

Pale Male, right, and Ginger Lima, left, sitting on the antenna of the Oreo Building,  have been copulating for some while now and I got a note from budding New York City  Hawkwatcher, Gordon Stewart,  asking when eggs might be expected? 

 Well Gordon, as you probably know, having watched from Central Park that there is no view available to look into the bowl of  the nest at 927 Fifth Avenue. We never know exactly when eggs have been laid or when the clutch is complete.  Therefore we always start the count for incubation from the first night that the female, in this case Ginger Lima, does her first overnight sleeping in the bowl of the nest.  Though we've no idea if there are any eggs up there yet when the formel does it.

First off from the first sighted copulation until the first overnight tends to be around a month. 

The first overnight for 927 tends to happen in the first week or two of March.

  Then normal incubation for a Red-tailed Hawk is 28 to 35 days. Our count tends toward 35 days with often a day or two added to the count before a feeding is sighted.

Next an update from Pon Dove concerning Bobby and Rosie of Washington Square Park and the NYTimes Hawk Cam

Dear Friends,
  Emily Rueb of the NY Times called me this morning in response to my inquiry regarding the cam going up. The NY Times staff that is in charge will be meeting with NYU next week. They will discuss the logistics, possibly an improved camera and setup and of course, when! As many of you know, Bobby and Rosie were seen copulating on the Judson Church cross yesterday late afternoon. I was there 10 minutes later and missed it but it was seen by some of our friends and photographed. This is great news.

If all goes well, there should be eggs by approximately mid March or a bit later. It would be great to see the nest before then as they are bringing twigs now so all we can do is hang in there until we see what happens at the meeting. There should be a new article on the NY Times City Room soon, so keep your eye out for that. Just go to chat and click on the typewriter on the left...but you all probably know that already! That's it for now. I'm going back to knitting 3 little bonnets :-) I can't wait! 
Best to everyone, 


 Photo by Jeff Murphy
As new hawkwatcher Jeff Murphy stepped out onto to his stoop he happened to look over at his neighbor's house.  Just at that moment  a young Cooper's Hawk whipped  in towards a bush full of sparrows right next to the neighbor's front steps.  

Typical of the wily, adaptable and non-indigenous  House Sparrow, when Coop came in on one side of the bush, the sparrows all went out the other side.

Coop appears to be having trouble believing that they are all really gone.

Photo by Jeff Murphy

Photo by Jeff Murphy

Photo by Jeff Murphy

Photo by Jeff Murphy
           If this were a person I'd say she was chagrined but as this is a bird and we humans have been advised  not to tack our emotions onto them--  Suffice it to say that young Coop appears to be thinking the phenomena over.
2010-04-12 Wisconsin Sandhill Cranes, photo by Donegal Browne
Yes, folks, some of  Wisconsin is thinking it would be a dandy idea to hunt Sandhill Cranes...Good Grief!
And its made the NYTimes, the link courtesy of the birdwatching Diane D'Arcy--
 U.S.   | February 24, 2012
Wisconsin Bill Would Allow Hunting of a Once-Rare Crane
Some farmers and lawmakers say that crane conservation efforts have brought too much of a good thing.
A few weeks ago, I was tuned into Wisconsin Public Radio and Sandhill Crane hunting bill was under discussion.  There was a person  from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation who was talking about how there was a need to hunt Sandhill Cranes as some farmers in northern Wisconsin were complaining that the cranes were eating their seed corn.
This is a bogus reason. Farmers can get seed corn that has been coated so it tastes bad to cranes.  They then don't eat it.  Cures that "problem".  Next?
A caller who had worked with cranes called in and expressed her concern about their low reproductive replacement time. She spoke about how ignorant we were about what it takes for Sandhills Cranes to be reproductively successful, how we really don't have exact numbers for the population, how their habitat is disappearing, and all the reasons why hunting a species that was almost annihilated not long ago shouldn't be creamed every Sandhill Hunting season.
The WPR  guest explained how only limited numbers would be taken, and hunters would be educated, calmly blew off any scientific concerns, and talked about how this way hunters wouldn't have to leave the state to hunt cranes.

I was not amused. In fact I had started to vibrate from the sheer stupidity of it all.  I picked up my cell phone and called the station.  Now I hate the telephone.  And though I trained as an actor as well as a field biologist, I don't like speaking all.  I'm shy.  But I just couldn't take it anymore. 
They were basically saying that the only important thing in any of this is that hunters won't have to leave the state to hunt Sandhill Cranes?  Kentucky just did away with their hunting season.  And they didn't do it without a reason.  

Besides all that, where is the Crane Foundation?  It is in Wisconsin.  Where are most of the Whooping Cranes coming from that are being hatched in captivity and taught the ways of crane-dom at great expense?  Wisconsin.  And where do most of the young Woopers start who are led by ultra lite planes to learn their migration route south?  Wisconsin!
Even experienced birders, savvy in the way of light on feathers cannot tell a Whooping Crane from a Sandhill Crane in the sky at times.

I mean how many Whooping Cranes do you check off your daily bird list?  Monthly?  Yearly?  Life?

And last but not least, Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes flock together.  They can fly across the sky together all in the same crane formation.  

As all the science about Sandhills was tossed in the trash so hunters wouldn't have to leave home to kill them,  in order to protect the Sandhill Crane population, that is what I  talked about.  
You can "educate" all the hunters you want but if most of the birding population who spends hours if not days in any given week looking at birds can't do it, a five minute video or posters or whatever is going to eventually lead to some very dead and very rare expensive Whooping Cranes getting shot along with the beautiful just-now-getting-a-possible-decent population Sandhill Cranes.

Lest we forget we lost three Whoopers in the south last year due to people shooting them.

Break down the number of Whooping Cranes in the world with the tremendous amounts of money that has been spent over years to keep a minute population of Whooping Cranes on the Earth. A Whooping Crane is worth millions.

I have to say that Wisconsin Wildlife Guy's "educating hunters" point sounded very pallid and thin after that point was brought up, even to himself.

Though there will still  be many who just want to shoot at something else and they may win--What other reason is there for a Mourning Dove Season?  Come on!  How many Mourning Doves does it take to make just a sandwich?
In the fall I see more Sandhill pairs without progeny than I see those who do and most of the ones who do have only one colt though they lay two eggs. Yes, they only lay two eggs per season.  And the pairs that I watched for three seasons haven't returned to their breeding and feeding grounds in the last two years.  As pairs tend to use the same breeding territories and foraging spots each year, that tends to make me think they are no longer alive and other pairs have not replaced them

There are endless reasons why cranes should not be hunted ecologically. 
 Quite simple actually. 
 But besides that,  if I were a hunter I'd be extremely embarrassed to hunt them in the first place.  
 One, it takes cranes rather a long time to get airborne and two it isn't as if they have an irregular flight pattern.  If you can hit the broadside of a barn and lead your aim with the least accuracy you can kill a Sandhill Crane.  Worse they mate for life and are protective of their families.  So sometimes its get one, get them all.
 In other words they are extremely large "sitting ducks".
And that is exactly why hunting was a major contributing factor when their population plummeted in the entire country to only a few nesting pairs that were left in Wisconsin in the 1930's.

It was only five or six years ago that many people began to see them again in the state.
From Robin of Illinois, she writes-
Those two captive bald eagles in North Carolina have two eggs that should start hatching this week. They have successfully hatched and raised young and eventually releasable eagles.
Posted on January 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Updated Tuesday, Feb 7 at 1:49 PM
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – A second egg was spotted in Savannah’s nest at the Carolina Raptor Center early Sunday morning.

Savannah laid her first egg of the 2012 nesting season on Wednesday around 4 p.m.  Staff at the Carolina Raptor Center believe the second egg was laid sometime overnight Saturday.  Eagles lay eggs about two to four days apart.

Last year Savannah and Derek had two eggs in their nest and research shows that two is the average clutch size.
Thanks to a partnership between the Carolina Raptor Center and WCNC, throughout the next few months, you will be able to watch and listen to Savannah and Derek.   For the first time you will be able to watch live video as the eggs hatch.
According to Carolina Raptor Center records, where specific, Savannah and Derek average about 33 days in incubation.  The eggs are expected to hatch the week of February 20.
Savannah arrived at Carolina Raptor Center in 1998 from the Center for Birds of Prey in Charleston, South Carolina. She was found in the wild with a fractured left wing.

She has adjusted to life at Carolina Raptor Center quite well, and found her mate, Derek, inside the aviary.  Savannah and Derek have raised healthy eaglets in the aviary, and Carolina Raptor Center has been able to successfully release those eaglets to the wild.
 Happy hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Canny Wade Buck, a Riverside Park Hawk Update, and Thank You Notes

Steam Engineer Paul Anderson was helping out at the Wade Farm the other day when he happened to look up and discover a White-tailed buck staring at him.  Staring at him in a rather pointed if not possibly belligerent sort of way.  In fact Mr. Buck was so self-possessed Paul began to sidle over for a better photograph. 
Did Mr . Buck move in response? Don't be silly.

  Did Mr. Buck do what most deer do, which is take to their hoofs and flee when confronted by a human at close range?

 No, he most assuredly did not.  He's far too cool for that.  Mr. Buck just followed him with  his eyes.

In fact this buck is rather famous locally, he's the Wade Buck and a character unto himself.

 Is he ever ever seen during deer hunting season?  You've got to be kidding. He's much too canny for that.  But out of season, he stands his ground close to humans and just stares them down.  

Now keep in mind this is no petting zoo deer. This is several hundred pounds of roaring testosterone with very big antlers and a large healthy ego.  No pansy he.  

And he has creeped out many a human.

In fact the humans always blink first, and then he's simply...GONE.

In from hawk news look-out Pam Langford-Riverside Park's New Hawk Couple Takes Soaring Relationship to Next Level

Read more:

While checking out the link sent in by Pam, I ran across another story from quoting neighbors of the park who believed that the apparent appearance of more rats in the daytime meant that the population of Riverside Park's rats had boomed and it was all the fault of the resident Red-tailed Hawks.  What?

Perhaps a little sensationalism in the piece but some of the neighbors believe that as less poison is being used in the park due to concern over yet another NYC Red-tailed Hawk dying from secondary poisoning-the rat eats the poison and then the hawk eats the poison rat- that the park is being overrun by rats.

First off, a dead Red-tail eats no rats, a live one can and will eat rats and a nesting pair with eyasses are a family that eats hordes of rats. 

I admit that in NYC  there will still be some rats left over. 

But what does all the urban rat research tell us is the only true way to control rats?  

The only foolproof way to decimate the rat population is to cut off their food sources. If a rat has no will eventually be a dead rat either from being eaten by another rat or in the end because it has no food.

So secondly,  the park powers-that-be have instituted improved  sanitation: more frequent garbage pick up, less rat friendly dumpsters and other anti-rat sanitation strategies which take away the rat populations nightly garbage gorging rat buffet.

Now what are some of the unenlightened neighbors saying again?  That there is a rat population explosion because they are seeing them everywhere.  Why are they seeing them?  Because the rats are out in the daytime.

Why are the rats out in the daytime?

As rats are highly unlikely to be out during sunlight hours because they want a tan, the top two, and usually only reasons rats expose themselves to the dangers of the day and us their only real predator besides themselves is either they've been poisoned and are seeking water or they are very hungry and are seeking food.  Their food in NYC is garbage.

The amount of garbage in the park has now been reduced to the point that it is not feeding the current rat population.  And without food none of us can live, i.e. the sanitation strategy is working.

Now if only the Riverside Conservancy can stand up to the unenlightened and very vocal local pressure.

This just might be the time for a nice little thank you note to Riverside Park administrator John Herrod for staying the course and using sanitation, the only proven method of rat control,  instead of using poison.

 Mr. Herrod's email address is-

Next up, the Perplexed Waunakee Cooper's Hawk among other things...
Donegal Browne