Thursday, June 21, 2012

Andromeda and Atlas, Rose and Vince, Pale Male and Zena's Rikki

Photo by Peter Richter
 This is Andromeda, the mate of Atlas who took over from Athena from she died of poisoning three years ago.  Andromeda is one of New York City's dark beauties.  In the time that  Andromeda has been Atlas' mate, she has produced 7 offspring.

All of Andromeda and Atlas' young have fledged for this season and are leading watchers a merry chase .
Next up word in from Chris Lyons a major watcher of Rose and Vince at the also prolific Fordham nest--

Found all three eyasses perched fairly low, a few hundred feet from the nest, quite close together (though not in the same tree), and all enjoying the shade on this very hot day. 

I don't know the fledge dates for any of them, but at least two were still up on Collins Hall earlier this week.  All seemed healthy, and a good thing they got off the nest ledge, which will probably be hot enough to fry the proverbial egg before long.  No sign of the parents. 
Chalk up another successful nesting season for Rose, whose winning streak is approaching legendary proportions.
Fledge dates are always a problem at Fordham because the fledglings have easy access to trees and rooftops from this nest. They can easily go on and off the nest at will, and they do- repeatedly.  This makes it very tough to tell when you see one go off this nest that it is actually the first time they've taken to their wings. 
Photo courtesy of
Pale Male and Zena's Rikki surveys New York City from the roof .   What a brave new world to explore.
And a link from the NYTimes from long time Contributor Betty Jo MacDonald about houses made of whole trees.
Happy Hawking 
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guess Who Came to Dinner? Mrs Feeder Duck Makes Her Appearance.

 When I first saw the Mrs. though the window, and ran to get my camera, she was far back in the yard with web feet rooted while  Night Duck strode forward toward the duck water pan and it's adjacent pile of bird seed with a glance back now and again to see if she was getting the idea.

By the time I got back with the camera, Mrs Night Duck had closed the distance and appeared to be heading for the drake.

 Not so.  She marched over to the feeder and started shoveling it in.  This told me that though she was a bit shy at seeing me at the door she likely has been here before and knows where the fresh supply of bird seed is everyday.

Night Duck isn't looking all that happy that Mrs. Mallard is between he and I as opposed to he being between us.  I decide I'll head towards the garden and stand behind the Milkweed, which will place him in the middle again.  Not that they won't know I'm there but somehow they seem to feel better when there is some kind of barrier.

I round the corner of the garden and stop dead.  Who should be grazing behind the mulch pile but one of the baby bunnies.  I think we're up to nine now. This may even be Strawberry Bunny (And you wonder why the garden is fenced.) who has a tale all his own rather like Peter Rabbit.  One day we'll get around to the Tale of Strawberry Bunny.

But the issue at this point is that if I hold to my plan, I have to get past little bunny.  And likely little bunny will take off like a shot hippity hopping toward the spruce trees and in the meantime spread the panic to the ducks, who'll take to their wings, and that rather defeats the whole comfort plan.

I turn around and retrace my steps.  Except this time I stand further back from the flower bed.

Drake doesn't notice at first but Hen does.  As does the Mourning Dove and the squirrel who likely wonder why I'm acting so uncharacteristically furtive.

 Night Duck then cares very much.

 As does the Mrs.
 Squirrel could care less and Mrs Night Duck takes the cue.

 Part of the trick here, is not to cause the Mourning Dove or the squirrel to flush, which tends to cause everybody to flee.  In this case of course the Dove and the squirrel are regular visitors who are used to me so likely Mrs. Mallard is taking their behavior as a partial clue to my possible identity as a non-predator.

But by the time I'd made it back to the front door, gone in, and am looking out the glass door in the back, everyone is gone.

Best laid plans and all that...

Then a day later, SURPRISE!!  I look out and there they both are hunkered down under the feeder giving me a look...
They then go back to the business of eating which entails putting their bills to the ground near their bodies and sliding their bills forward "shoveling" whatever into their mouths.  Bits fall out here and there.  

The "bits" are the non-eatables. No they aren't sloppy eaters.  They're very selective eaters.

 It turns out that Mallards have a dozen or so receptors in their mouths which start "selecting" what is eatable and what is not. What is not is chucked out,  as the mouthful travels from the front to the back of the mouth.

Who knew?  

Without having fingers to do the selecting, while having eyes in the sides of your head which makes seeing what your bill is shoveling in not all that stellar,  it makes perfect sense.

Evolution is a wonder.

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Photo courtesy of
Hopping and flapping is well under way on Fifth Avenue!  Their is one off and one on at Pale Male and Zena's nest.

And the NYC Raptors Group, a congregation of many of the major hawkwatchers,  bloggists, the Horvaths, and more rehabbers in NYC, has already been extremely busy tracking and sometimes rescuing this season's fledglings.

It started out because citizens who'd come across a raptor in distress would sometimes leave a message on NYC Audubon's phone after hours, sometimes they'd email one of the bloggists, or attempt to find a hawkwatcher in Central Park.  And through no fault of anyone, the message wasn't always gotten to someone who could help in a timely manner. 

Now when word comes into any of the above, that at hawk is down, a fledgling is in a dangerous place, there are kestrel fledglings running around on a sidewalk, a Red-tail stranded, the person contacted puts the word out electronically to the raptors group and whoever is closest, capable of dealing with the problem and available takes off to help, often seconded by others if necessary.