Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday Miscellany

 Photo courtesy of
927 Fifth Avenue, the nest of Pale Male and Zena,  is quite possibly the best nest site in Manhattan for the hawks and for viewers as well but no nest site is perfect. 
 A foible of the 927 nest is that in the afternoon the sun beats down on it and the inhabitants.  They have to pant the heat off.  
Zena attempts to shade the eyasses with her body or by mantling them with her wings.  It's still a scorcher up there on hot sunny days.
Though the sun is no doubt pleasant for the formel in Spring when things can get downright chilly up there. 
Speaking of young birds, yet another clutch of Robins has appeared.   
 And another litter of mini-cottontails is hip-hopping around the yard.  These are from the doe who lives under the hedge. 
Though parent Grackles appear sleek and shiny if somewhat arrogant, young Grackles give a rather dull rumpled effect.   Somehow they all have a disreputable look reminiscent of bag ladies. 

And up in the Maple, here are nest mates, a young Starling and young Cowbird taking each other on while Dad Starling scans the ground for foodstuffs with a complete lack of concern. 
Timeout--It is the moment for today's question with the photo answer. 
 Here's the question. 
 What happens when you disturb yearling sheep who've gone into the woodshed for an afternoon respite from the sun.
             THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!
 And what happens when you disturb Rocky the Goat during siesta time? 
 Rocky's head pops up and he holds to have his portrait taken.  Or perhaps he just wants to know how the camera tastes.
And now back to our regularly scheduled birds.  And this one's a treat. 
When I threw out the seed remains from Silver the African Grey Parrot's bowl for the wild birds, I'd forgotten Silver had also been eating some fried chicken.
The next time I looked out there was Bohemian Robin.  (That's his new name as he eats corn, bread, mango and who knows what else.) 
  And one of the what elses appeared to be fried chicken.  Adaptable Bohemian Robin Dad had just stuck a very large chunk of hard crisp chicken skin into his offspring's beak.
 Unable to deal with it, young Robin had just dropped it from his beak and gone back to expectedly staring at dad.  Check out the expressions on both their faces.  I've seen these looks between parent and offspring in any number of species.
And now to more Raptor News!
 After the death of Franklin Dad, the Institute nest was in real doubt.  Now things are going beautifully at the Franklin Institute Nest thanks to Franklin Mom and T2 the wonder step-dad-
In from Robin of Illinois, some good news from Facebook-- Eagle freed from tree entangled in kite string.  
Early this morning Steve Harding of Timberwolf Tree Services freed an eagle that was entangled in kite string and dangling from a tree 40' up. Efforts by MARS staff to free the eagle the night before failed and so Steve was called to come and help this morning at first light. This isn't the first time that he has performed tough rescues and he deserves a big thank you once again!

And Washington Square Park's newest fledglings, Boo and Scout--

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Seat on the Hawkbench Is Empty

Pale Male and Lola sit companionably on their nest-- one of Rik Davis' photos that made the New York Times.

My friend and longtime hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton called today and my heart jumped into my throat. When Stella's name appears on my phone it is news that cannot wait.  And as we weren't waiting for a hatch at Fifth Avenue and it isn't quite time for fledging  my mind leaped to bad news.   

Of all the possible bad news, this was bad news that never ever entered my mind as he had always been there.  Rik Davis, a hawkwatcher, a photographer, a teacher of the pedestrian,  who had watched Pale Male from the beginning, and who when I began to watch, was at the Hawk Bench with his beautiful photographs, a Swarovski scope set up for any and all who walked past the Model Boat Pond to look at Pale Male, his mates, and the 927 nest, was gone.

 Stella told me Rik had died of a sudden massive heart attack at Beth Israel Hospital.

Always before when I would arrive at  The Bench, even after having been out of town, kind. gentle, perceptive Rik would say hello, give me the report of what had happened earlier in the day with Pale Male and Company, and it was if I had never been away.  I was restored into the rhythm of watching at The Bench.  

Never competitive or secretive about what he had seen, he always shared.  Everyone was included.  It was Rik who put out the news that it looked like there was feeding behavior on the nest  after five years of no hatches on the 927 nest and we should all beat it to the nest and take a look.  No matter the good news days or bad he was the constant.  He was just there.

I will miss my friend.  We all will.  And I know that Pale Male will look for him and wonder. 

Update:  A reader kindly contributed this link for a photograph of Rik,
Many were the object of his kindnesses, who never knew his name.
Donegal Browne