Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rose of Fordham May Be Missing!

 June 11, 2007- Rose of Fordham prepares a pigeon for one of her fledglings, who is doing a high wire act on a nearby pipe, in hopes of luring him back towards the nest.
 Initially he takes no notice being fascinated by his new surroundings.
 But then he sees Rose and the pigeon. And typical of a hungry eyass flies straight for her.   Rose has to beat a hasty retreat not to be knocked off the roof peak.  Her progeny looks surprised at her rapid exit.


March 19, 2013-As I often do at this time of year, I emailed Chris Lyons one of the chief watchers of the Fordham Hawks, to check on how the resident hawks are doing--  Rose, the female of long standing, and Vince, the  tiercel that came into the territory when Hawkeye, Rose's mate of many years, died of poisoning several seasons ago.   And as they  do have two sites they've used, part of the big news every year is which site they will be using this season.

I was fully expecting that Rose and Vince would have chosen either their Fordham nest site which is their usual choice or as they have much less frequently done, taken up somewhat similar digs in the nearby Botanical Gardens.  And that they would be well on their way to yet another prolific season.

On March 20th Chris responded: Last I checked, all was well with Rose and Vince,  but I just got back from a trip, so I haven't had a chance to see if they're sticking with the old nest site.   Let me get back to you on that. 

Then, Chris Lyon's unsettling response written today, March 22nd...

I'm still trying to assess the situation--I saw Vince today (well, I saw an adult male Red-tailed Hawk who matched Vince's description), but I did not see Rose, and I did not see fresh pine boughs on the nest. I have not actually seen two Red-tails together on campus since I got back.   They were courting a few weeks back. 
Today, I saw Vince grab a half-eaten prey animal and fly around with it, and he would periodically emit these plaintive high-pitched calls.  As if he was waiting for Rose to show up and accept his offering.   And she didn't.  

I'm inquiring with a source at the Botanical Garden to see if maybe she's set up housekeeping there again, but I don't see why she would, since there's no construction going on near Collins Hall this year.   I also emailed Rich Fleisher, [The other chief watcher of Rose and Vince. DB] who hasn't put any new hawk pictures on his site since early February. 

I'm not assuming the worst, but I'm contemplating it.   I may be projecting, but Vince's behavior seemed agitated somehow--even worried.   Maybe he knows something's happened to Rose, and he's trying to attract a new mate before the breeding season ends.  That's not such a romantic interpretation, but it's just as poignant. 

She'd be around 11 or 12 years old now, assuming the nest on Creston Ave. was her first. 

My response--

Oh Chris, this doesn't sound good at all.  The behavior on Vince's part is reminiscent of  Pale Male's behavior when he couldn't find Lola.  He'd have food and call and call for her to come and get it.

If Rose is missing, and I can't think of any other reason that they wouldn't be together right now, I'd say that Vince doesn't know what happened to her and is still hoping to find her.

 Comparing Vince's behavior to some of Pale Male's, (PM has been through a good many mates in the last several years), it is only after he'd given up finding Lola that another female appeared in the territory.

 In the case when one of his later mates was poisoned, Pale Male had been attempting to get her to react to him by bringing food to a nearby tree and calling.  Eventually she fell from her perch dead.  Before long Pale Male had a new mate.  In my opinion he'd seen this mate dead, knew she was gone,  and therefore he then allowed himself to be courted.

The biological imperative takes over, and according to John Blakeman there is always a free floating non-mated group of Red-tails looking for an open spot in a territory ready to bond, particularly at this time of yearIf Rose really is gone, Vince will likely take a new mate in time to breed  this season. 

It will be so terribly sad if Rose too has disappeared like so many other well loved hawks of name in the last couple of years.

Do please keep us updated.

Best, D

I always try to look for all the possible causes of any given behavior.  This is stretching it but weirder things have happened.  Perhaps Chris is right and Rose has decided that she'd prefer The NY Botanical Gardens site this year.  Following that thought... perhaps Vince is attempting to convince her that Fordham would be better.

Wishful thinking on my part I'm afraid 

When it comes to the nest site choice, the formel is the Queen of the World and the tiercel gets cracking making her choice the best nest he possibly can.

I'm still hoping all is well with Rose and Vince.   I'll let you know as soon as I know.   Stay tuned.

Donegal Browne 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

FLASH!!!! NYU Hawk Cam is Up!

NYU Hawk Chat Moderator PonDove sends the news!

The NYU Hawk Cam is up, running, and here's the new link-


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

EGGNANT at The Franklin Institute, Washington Square Park Hawks, Isolde and the New Guy at The Cathedral Nest,

Photo by Kevin Vaughn

Della Micah host of the blog, Hawkwatch at the Franklin Institute wrote referring to the Franklin Mom as they and the hawks wait for the first egg of the season-

"Optimistically, hawkwatchers comment on how "eggnant" she appears!"

I was delighted!

 There is a good deal of "cross pollination" amongst hawkwatchers and here is a delightful example of it.  The use of the word "eggnant" to refer to the appearance and demeanor of a formel who is on the verge of laying.

The Back Story.

Back in 2005, the year Pale Male and Lola's nest  was rebuilt by them on 927 Fifth Avenue after its very well publicized and heavily protested removal by the coop board of that building, dozens of hawkwatchers turned to hundreds beside the model boat pond as the world watched whether or not the pair would be able to nest successfully after the disruption.  

And as we watched Lola become heavier, all those yummy food gifts, slower, sometimes a bit drowsy during the day, and obviously hormonal as she perched in trees or on buildings, often with feathers a bit fluffed.  

Marie Winn, who wrote "Red-tails in Love", Stella Hamilton, and I, stood in a group of watchers on the edge of the Model Boat Pond observing Lola's pre-egg laying demeanor 

This is the same Stella Hamilton,  who this season was the Downtown Plaza Hawk Watcher when the Uptown/Downtown team went out to observe just what Pale Male, Octavia, Mr. Plaza and Mrs. Plaza were all up to.  

As we all stared at Lola, suddenly Stella said, "She looks eggnant!"    And a name for the "condition" was born.  And as it turns out is now in use by hawkwatchers far afield from New York City's Central Park.

How grand!

Next Up! 


PonDove, moderator of the NYU Hawk Chat Room reports that there are three eggs in the Bobst Library nest of Bobby and Rosie at New York University.  She also has word that the NYU HawkCam will be running, if all goes well, by the middle of next week!  

And don't forget you are all invited to join The Chat Room.


Isolde has a special place in my heart as I've watched the Cathedral Nest for days on end in previous seasons Here is the news I've gleaned from other watchers of  the Cathedral Nest so far this season.

James O'Brien, of the Origin of the Species blog,, caught Isolde flying off the nest for a break on SundayOn Friday he reported that her tail was visible over the lip of the nest.

 Therefor I deduce that Isolde she was only sitting half down on the nest so her clutch was not complete as of that day.

On further investigation...

Rob Schmunk, of, and the keeper of  careful Cathedral Nest stats, reports that on Sunday Isolde's tail was also visible, which means in my opinion, that she was still only sitting half down on the nest that day.  And as keeper of careful stats, Rob reports that this pair has started a week earlier than usual this year.

(The term "eggnant" appears on Rob's blog earlier in the month as well!)

Among other contacts,  I've sent out a query to Chris Lyons of Fordham asking after Vince and Rose I'm hoping for news about them soon as well.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Monday, March 18, 2013

Octavia Sits the Nest. The Plaza Pair Copulate. Plus Four Winged Birds.

A heads up from Sally of Kentucky, concerning two pictures, featured on  

 Pale Male and Octavia in similar flight positions.
This is Pale Male.  And the quick field mark for that identification if you are watching the Fifth Avenue nest?  Pale Male has a distinct sub-terminal band on his tail.
And Octavia's sub-terminal tail band is nearly nonexistent.

Plus yet another fascinating tidbit from Robin of Illinois-Early birds had four wings?

"More than 100 million years ago, birds living in what is now China sported wings on their legs, a new study of fossils suggests.  Researchers found evidence of large leg feathers in 11 bird specimens from China's Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature. The feathers suggest that early birds had four wings, which may have played a role in the evolution of flight, scientists report in a study published today (March 14) in the journal Science."
And a Clarifying Update on the Downtown Plaza Pair from Budding NYC Hawkwatcher Al Olsen in Case You Were Still Confused-
Talked to two hawk watchers who  thought that Mr. Plaza didn't have a mate. I told them about Stella and Katherine's observations when they saw O [Octavia, D.B.] and Pale Male uptown copulating and the Plaza pair copulating down south at nearly current time.  Seems someone is telling  them that isn't true.  It is. I was in park that day.
  I have been trying to track the southern hawks for  days now, more or less successfully. Have seen both hawks and copulation. 
Yesterday, I located the male on the Essex sign.   He flew west just as another hawk (his mate) flew off Crown building.  Crown hawk landed in big London Plane tree in the edge of Park by the wall and leaned forward in "the position". It was Plaza female. I'd lost Mr. Plaza but after five minutes or so he flew in and copulated with Mrs. Plaza.  They sat together for about six minutes and she flew back in direction of Crown. 
It can't be Octavia because she is sitting on the nest at Fifth Avenue and is said to have laid an egg or eggs besides the reliable observations of Stella, Katherine, and others.
Many thanks for the clarifying observations Al, and keep those updates coming! 
Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne