Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rosie Now Visible at Night, Tundra Swans, and Sandhill Cranes

The HawkCam adjuster worked on the NYU Cam today and now, once again, as was the case in previous years, one can watch the NYU nest of Rosie and Bobby at nightWhen the eyeasses hatch  there is actually quite a bit of action after dark and now we will all have a chance to study it!
But earlier in the day...

 I was out driving around looking for Red-tailed Hawk nests when I looked over at a flooded field a few miles shy of  the Illinois border  and there were a flock of very white, very big birds...and they looked very much like swans, swimming around in the vernal lake. 
 Unfortunately it was a very big wet field on private land.  I drove around the field and finally found a pair close enough to identify.  Tundra Swans!

Then back to the area with a broader view of the flock.
 And arrived just at the moment a flock of Canada Geese was coming in for a landing.

I'll try again tomorrow and bring more magnification with me.
 A flock of Sandhill Cranes had just passed over when a minute after, another pair, apparently late off the mark appeared trumpeting madly, in an attempt to catch up to their brethren  on their way toward the Sugar River.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring a Red-tail nest!
 Coming soon, due to reader's  questions...the idiosyncrasies of Pale Male and Octavia's nest location at 927 Fifth Avenue.
Donegal Browne 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pale Male and Octavia, The Search for Rose of Fordham Continues, Rare Cooperative RTH Behavior!

Photo courtesy of
 The ever industrious Pale Male is still twigging for the 927 Fifth Avenue nest.
 Photo courtesy of  Octavia has developed the sleepy eyed hormonal look of a sitting formel.

 Hawkwatcher Al Olsen reports that Octavia had to wait almost three minutes beside the nest bowl after a break for Pale Male to give up sitting the eggs and make his exit.  Though I, and no one else I know, have ever observed Pale Male feed his eyasses, one gets the idea he thinks that prodigious hunting is a better use of his time, he has always displayed a grand fondness for sitting on the eggs.

No one so far has reported that Octavia has had to give him a poke with her beak to get him out of the nest bowl, on occasion, Lola, a mate of many years, periodically did oust him off the eggs that way.

June 2007, Hawkeye and Rose of Fordham 

Rose of Fordham has still not been sighted by any of her watchers and things are beginning to look grim,.

   I did receive some fascinating behavioral information from a birdwatcher at the NYBG.  Rose was observed hunting with her son called the Alpha Son or Jr.  They also double teamed the Great Horned Owls at their nest site.    I know of only two instances in which two Red-tailed Hawks participated in team hunting and both of them were bonded pairs.  Making cooperative endeavors by a mother and son even more rare.

  Mama and Papa in the Bronx were observed hunting pigeons in tandem by Jeff Kollbrunner and I observed cooperative hunting in the County M rural pair.

From  NYBG Birdwatcher-

On two occasions I saw Rose and Jr (as we called him) harassing the Great Horned Owls. It was unique behavior as he would land on a branch and the male owl ( defending the nesting female) would go into defense mode - shouldering his wings and hissing. Then Rose would suddenly appear on a branch in back of male owl- cornering him. I have never observed RT act this way before.  

Since then I've observed Rose and Jr flying and perched together. I ID her by band, color pattern and size. Last year I saw them hunting in the same manor, one distracts the prey - while the other goes in for the kill. 

I haven't seen Jr in quite sometime either. [Last observed by NYBG Birdwatcher about four months ago. DB] He was very brazen and people tolerant often buzzing the tops of our heads as he flew by. 

I watched Junior on the Museum bldg nest.  He was very aggressive in the nest and first to fledge.  I am certain it was this young male that hunted with Rose. 

Rose's favorite place to perch was the Native Plant Garden. The Garden has done extensive construction. Maybe this drove her away.   

There is another garden volunteer that photographs RT all the time. I will contact her and see if she has captured  any pictures of Rose, lately. 
Fingers crossed.
Donegal Browne

Thursday, March 28, 2013


 The second egg at the Franklin Institute was laid shortly after 12 noon! 

While the hawks are doing well, other birds are not.  National Audubon has sent out an advocacy alert for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse.  
 The Gunnison Sage-Grouse has been identified by Audubon as one of the ten most endangered birds in the country. With fewer than 5,000 individuals left, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently proposed to list the species as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately—even with dramatically shrinking populations—growing political opposition is threatening the science-based plan to ensure the survival of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse.

Take Action It is vitally important for as many people as possible to submit comments in support of protecting the Gunnison Sage-Grouse. The deadline to comment is Tuesday, April 2. Send your comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services TODAY.




Monday, March 25, 2013


Franklin Mom sits on her first egg of the season, with a piece of prey, previously brought by T2.

As most of you will remember,  Franklin Dad, was killed by a car last year, leaving Franklin Mom with young eyasses on the nest,  As was done when Intrepid, the Riverside Mom lost her mate to poison, humans pitched in and left food for the Moms in both cases.  But wonder of wonders at the Franklin Institute nest, suddenly a tiercel, now named T2, appeared and began to bring food to Franklin Mom, then to the nest, and THEN began to feed the eyasses himself.

There was no question that he was the man, or should we say hawk of the hour, and was bonded to the Franklin female.  And now after pitching in, Franklin Mom has just laid the first egg fathered by T2 on the Franklin nest.  Jubilation!

Just in from Linda Maslin of Blue Bell, PA
Hi Donna,
Just wanted to  let you know the big news – First egg laid at Franklin Institute hawk nest!!  And John Blakeman was on the chat when it happened and called it!!

Evidentally T2 decided that his mate wasn't interested in the tasty treat he'd left, because he just flew in, picked up, and left with it. :)

Congratulations all!!

Chris Lyons Continues the Search for Rose of Fordham

 The nest at Fordham with eyasses of a previous season. 

 Chris Lyons, who has watched Rose, first with her mate Hawkeye, and after Hawkeye's death by secondary rat poison, has watched she and her now mate, Vince, continues his search for the missing Rose 

Chris wrote:
One of the people I contacted yesterday was Bobby Horvath, and he said he hadn't been notified about a female he banded having been found dead or ailing.   There's no guarantee that she'd be found if she died, or that the one who found her would know who to contact--but she is banded, and that may eventually yield information.  

 I'm hoping somebody will have seen her alive, but from what you say, that is sounding less likely.   Rich Fleisher hasn't seen her lately, but he hasn't had much chance to look.  He did see one hawk near the nest some days back, but that could have been Vince.  Over at the Botanical Garden, a sick hawk was found recently, but no mention of it being banded--I'm trying to get more info.  It will take some time. 
I would hate to think it was poison.   Call me a romantic, but I'd rather she died in fierce battle with a a rival female, or a Great Horned Owl, or got hit by lightning, or anything else, anything.   I hate it that we do this to them.  It's a bad way for them to die.  I don't even put out poison for the mice in our apartment anymore.   

 Chris, I completely and utterly concur.  According to STOP THE POISON activists  in NYC, there are numerous towns in California that have seen the light and outlawed rodenticides.  We all need to work to educate the public that sanitation is the only weapon that actually works to stop infestations of rodents.

And poisons are just not an option!  Particularly non-species specific poisons which injure or kill wildlife, pets, and even children every year.  That's too large a price to pay for being slovenly when a little care would nip burgeoning  rodent populations in the bud. 

Also, I received several emails from readers who are unfamiliar with the Fordham site.  Therefore, a few words about the Fordham Nest ... 

The Fordham site is likely the most fledgling friendly building nest in the city.  The overhang protects the hawks from a good bit of weather and trees as you can see, are within feet of the building.

Those handy trees at nest height, make the fledge of these eyasses far more similar to the fledgling environment of hawks in a non-urban nest while having  the shelter of a building to protect the family earlier in life.  

With a short flight hop, the youngsters can "branch" within the trees.  They rarely if ever get grounded and fly back and forth so frequently from the nest that it is difficult to tell whether the eyasses have already fledged or not as they so easily return to the nest.

More as it happens!

And don't forget the NYU HawkCam and chat are up...
Donegal Browne