Friday, March 15, 2013


Just in from one of our main watchers in field, Stella Hamilton, "The Downtown Plaza Hawks were seen mating and putting twigs in 3 different places at the Plaza while Octavia was sitting on eggs."

Taking into account this bit of news, it appears that both pairs are currently going about their bonded pair business, whatever extracurricular activities may have been occurring previously.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Afternoon with Pale Male and Octavia and What's in the Bowl of That Nest...and Why?

 Photo courtesy of
  Here are longtime Hawk Watcher Stella Hamilton's  saturday notes from the field-- Pale Male and Octavia of the 927 Fifth Avenue nest.

Dear Donna, 

 I spent most of the afternoon hawk watching at the Hawkbench.  

I arrived at approximately 3:15. Palemale was on the nest, and Octavia was soaring . 

 3:28 Palemale leaves nest and meets up with Octavia on her favorite mating tree , an oak tree on 76th and 5th, and guess why .... To mate.  Palemale then flies off .and 

3:31 Pale Male returns to nest at with a twig and places it in deep part of the nest bowl. 

3:55  Both hawks soar. 

4:00 Palemale flies with small prey and eats it on terrace of building we call the ship or boat building. Plenty going on here. 

I decided to check out what's happening at the Plaza Hotel. 

4:20 I arrived at the Plaza and stayed there for about a half hour , but saw no hawks at all. I walked back up town to watch Palemale and Octavia. 

There was a lot of soaring and nest time together . 

At 5:05, both hawks were on the nest, then Octavia leaves nest and flies to her favorite mating tree on 76th. No mating observed at this time. 

Octavia decides to roost on tree on 72nd and Palemale roosts on tree on East Drive a few yards west of Alice in Wonderland. 

Stella Hamilton 

Keep 'em coming Stella!
Photo courtesy of


When it comes time to line the bowl of their nests, many NYC hawks peel the inner bark from trees as their material of chose for cozy nest bowl lining.   I've watched Pale Male, Lola, Charlotte, Junior, Athena, and Riverside Mom all do it in person and many other NYC  hawks via photo.  Therefore I'd thought without really thinking about it,  that bark was, when available, the material of choice for nest bowls by urban Red-tails.

And that dear readers is what one gets for thinking something without really thinking about it.  One must watch for those sneaky assumptions.  

 As it turns out, my thought was just that,  an assumption.  And it was wrong.

I would have thought that the Franklin Institute Hawks would be using the inner bark of trees for bowl lining too.  Not so.

 The male T2 has lined the bowl with evergreen boughs.  Now I can't say for sure that there aren't some strips of bark underneath but it looks pretty twiggy below the needles from here. 

In Pale Male's nest in past years, it is dry grass from one of the adjacent terrace's flower boxes that is gleaned and laid over the bark.

Now I'm told there  are deciduous trees reasonably close to the nest site at the Franklin. Therefore it would appear that the bowl lining of choice there, as opposed to making do as the deciduous bark isn't available, for this pair is evergreen.

My question then is, was this lining chosen after experimentation or was this the lining of say, one or the other hawks natal nest?

Donegal Browne

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FLASH!!!! Washington Square Hawk Cam for 2013!!!

Photo courtesy of NYT HawkCam 2012

From PonDove, a chief observer of the Washington Square Nest  and a moderator of the  NYTimes Hawk Chat Room.

Dear Hawk Friends,

   As you may have heard, the NY Times will not be hosting the NYU hawk cam this year. John Blakeman, 14th and I have been working with NYU to try to find a way to keep it going. There is one egg since Wednesday and I am awaiting an update, as eggs are laid every 2 or 3 days.

The good news is that NYU has decided to put a camera up! I didn't get a specific date but will know soon...all I was told was that a week or more. Not that much to see while Rosie is incubating for the nextweek, so that's OK. 

The important thing is that they said yes!! 

So stay tuned and John Blakeman, 14th and I will keep you abreast of the date as things progress.

Thanks to everyone for being part of this amazing cam! It will be great to see everyone again from the past 2 seasons! I am so thankful to President Sexton for once again allowing us to share this wonderful experience. 

Maybe triplets this time?! We'll know soon! 

Love, Pon

Many thanks to PonDove, John Blakeman and 14 for their efforts in getting a Washington Square Hawk Cam up and running for 2013Washington Square won't be HawkCam-less after all!

And a big Huzzah!, for President Sexton and NYU!

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Just look at Octavia's Wingspan Compared to Pale Male's!

 Photo courtesy of

Pale Male, (left), Octavia (right)

Do you remember that in one of the emails from NYC Hawkwatcher Katherine Herzog, she mentioned how huge Octavia is.  

I believe Kat compared her wing span to that of almost a  Turkey Vulture in comparison to your usual Red-tailed Hawk wing span.

And Kat wasn't exaggerating!  Look above at the size and wing span difference between she and Pale Male!

The rule of thumb is that in reverse sexual dimorphism in hawks that the female is about a third larger than the male. 

Agreed, Pale Male, is a smaller swifter model of a Red-tail male, but still Octavia is hugely larger than he in comparison. 

Also a heads up, both hawks have been seen bringing bark to the nest to line the bowl.  It won't be long now before Octavia will be up there on 927 Fifth Avenue full time! 

Sally of Kentucky asks if Downtown Male might be Pale Male Jr?  It is possible as that was his previous territory but though this hawk does look like Pale Male facially, I think he may be a little darker than Junior  though I'd have to watch him in person to be sure one way or the other.  Junior had a way of holding his body that is distinctive.

Also keep in mind that the newest research found that Red-tailed Hawks often return to their natal territory to nest.  Therefore Downtown Male might be a hawk that came from a nest of Charlotte and Junior's or even Pale Male and Lola's nest on Fifth Avenue.

Happy Hawking!
P.S.  Scroll down for a previous posting from earlier this evening.    

Donegal Browne 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Young Arthur Has Died

Arthur paper
Photo courtesy of The Alex Foundation,

Arthur, aka Wart, an African Grey Parrot, age 14, has died from Avian Bornavirus which is presumed to be the causative factor in PDD, Proventricular Dilatation Disease, which is fatal.  

Wart was currently the youngest research colleague of Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a pioneer in avian cognition.  Wart worked with Dr. Pepperberg at The Parrot Lab at Brandeis University and The Alex Foundation.  

He will be sorely missed. 
The life expectancy in this species is said  to be fifty plus years.

For more on Arthur...

Sadly even now the work done by female scientists is woefully underfunded compared with that of their male counterparts. 

 And keep in mind that what we know from observation of individual Red-tailed Hawks will gain more credence when other individual birds, even those of other species which are adaptive thinkers, gain recognition for their mental acumen and therefore their deaths by secondary rat poisoning will become unacceptable to many more people until a tipping point is reached and it is unacceptable to all. 

To help keep the work going...
Donegal Brown