Friday, March 14, 2014

The Edgerton Eagles, Those Sneaky Devils. An Isolde Story, and Rocky the Juvenile Bald Eagle Tries For Geese

I'd gone to the Edgerton Eagle nest again.  Several days ago I'd also gone and this is pretty much what I saw the whole visit then and this time as well.  The nest is there but no eagle activity whatsoever.  I waited in vain.  As I'd last seen them only twigging, there still remained the question as to whether they were actually going to use this nest.  Plus when things look this deserted and the eagles should be on the nest by now, one begins to worry about whether something dire may have happened.

As I'd done on the last visit, I took a photograph of the nest about every 5 seconds.  Then went home, downloaded them and scrutinized everyone of them looking for something that told me the nest was occupied.  No good.

Disheartened I went through again, zooming in on each one.  I was about to go a third time when I remembered that the white on a Bald Eagle at distance has the rather alarming quality of blending into the sky behind them.  Therefore I decided to raise the saturation on each photo before zooming,
in hope of contrasting a bit of white bird part with a bluer sky. The day's first nest shot, nothing!  I raised the saturation on the second and zoomed in.

 Eureka!  There it was the very top curve of a mature eagle's white head...and likely Mom was peering  through the twigs at me besides.

The first photo of the day was very blurry and this is the second shot...I conjecture that Mom saw the car, peered out, saw it was me and then sunk back in as in a few shots there is a very occasional skinny sliver of white, but not enough to actually say for sure it was a head.  Very clever.  

I just happened to have everything set up on the tripod already when I pulled it out of the car.  If I'd had to set up on the spot I might well have missed that white curve and never known for sure the eagless was up there.  I'm assuming it was Mom but yes it could have been Dad.

Here is my tentative tip for the day, if a sitting eagle is going to peek they likely will peek early on so be prepared.

This does not necessarily go for Red-tailed Hawks. I feel a digression coming on...

 As many of you will remember, trying to figure out if the nest behind St. Andrew's elbow at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was abandoned or in use was a trial of patience nearly every year.

Various watchers would go each early Spring, look at the nest for awhile and seeing nothing, pronounce it abandoned.  

That was my cue to pack some food, trundle my rolling bag up and down several sets of subway stairs and take the trip to Harlem.  I'd set up on the sidewalk for a very long session...of waiting.

Isolde had incredible discipline about not popping her head up and looking out.  She just didn't do it.  In fact as the nest had been used for numerous seasons the bowl was so deep she could do all sorts of moving in there and we couldn't see she had peek holes between the twigs.

So some years, I'd be starting on hour three without a wiggle from the nest, thank goodness for curious pedestrians who asked what I was looking at, when I'd see a glint of something between the nest twigs.  I'd focus on that area and eventually I could tell she was there.

Digression over.

After getting my fill of apparently photographing an empty eagle nest, which didn't turn out to be empty thank goodness, I headed out to see what else I could see.

Remember the juvenile Bald Eagles that were enjoying possum the other day?  Their curve of the Rock River was my next stop.

No eagles in flight but plenty of waterfowl.  Not only were there something close to a hundred Canada Goose, but also a handful of Mallards and some other small waterfowl with flicky white wings that zipped past in the air so fast I couldn't identify them or even get my camera up in time to snag their photo.  

 It seemed everyone would float downstream and then periodically in pairs or small groups they would then fly upstream.   I thought no stupid duckies these.  Save those calories.

At least  I thought they might be doing that when...

Here came Rocky the young Bald Eagle flying upstream with purpose.
 He navigates through the twigs he's using for cover very nicely.
Still sticking to cover.  That sort of scrofulous patchy coloring of young Bald Eagles begins to make sense doesn't it?

Here we have a demonstration of the phrase "spread eagle" for a human who with arms wide and body flat takes a header.

But not so Rocky.  He grabs the perch and sticks while apparently still keeping a bead on his possible prey.

And with that cliffhanger, I have to break off for tonight....The
Saga continues tomorrow!

But if this is the first post you've read today keep scrolling down for the previous post of the day concerning Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot, the Tortoise, and the Hare.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot Checks Out the Tortoise and the Hare

 I'd been invited to a dinner benefiting  The Pearl Island Project, (a local eco-project along the Sugar River) and won the above figure next to the live parrot as a door prize. I'd told Sam the daughter about the kitsch and she wanted a picture. While I was getting it from all angles, Silver kept saying, "Want up, want up, want uuuuupppp!  So I went over, got him, and put him down next to it.  

Silver is not at all sure about it.  Look at his expression.  Also look at his left foot.  It is up and ready to grab that hysterically laughing hare so he can be bitten before getting away if necessary.
Silver still isn't sure about it but I think it has just remembered that I was the one who put him there, having no doubt forgotten he was the one who had wanted UP!

Evidently having figured out that the object is not animate, his foot has gone down, but he still looks rather stunned.  Understandably as the Hare obviously suffers from mania and who knows what that guy with his tongue sticking out is thinking.

Silver has now turned his head so he can use his left eye to watch the figure and use his right eye to place his raised right foot to start a stealthy retreat.
Still wary.

But that a look of realization and even a bit accusatory?
Then he begins to march down the arm at me.  Ah oh...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rural Red-tail and Eagle Nest Checking, Decorah Eagles Lay Three, and a Kollbrunner Recap of Mama and Papa

Many thanks to Jackie of Tulsa for the lovely screen captures of the Decorah Eagle nest.
Three beautiful eggs.

In, also, by way of Jackie of Tulsa, the light tower (far right) that the Franklin hawks have been twigging for the last few days.
(I'd like to credit the photo if anyone has that piece of information
The Gough Red-tailed Hawk nest, with Mom up right center.  This nest is in a twiggy stand mid way up a tree.  Even though it is extremely close to the road and therefore there would be no problem with public access, once the trees leaf out it may be very tough to watch.  The pair appears to be still twigging.

Gough RTH nest, different angle.  There appears to be a couple of wads of plastic up there.  Will be interesting to see if that sort of material stays in rural nests.  It tends to blow out of urban ones.
The Teneyke Eagle Nest.  The Eagless may be on the nest but she can't be seen.

And a mini recap from Jeff Kollbrunner who watches the Red-tailed Hawk pair, Mama and Papa--
This is Mama and Papa's 21st season together as a pair. Last year they had Fledglings 28, 29 & 30-- over the last 13 seasons in which we found their nests.


Happy Hawking!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pale Male and Octavia...EGG? The Beresford Pair? And the Rock River Juvenile Bald Eagles.

Photo courtesy of reports that Pale Male and Octavia my have an egg or eggs on the nest as Octavia has been sticking to it.  She did overnight according to report.

Another clue, you can see from the above that she is eating on the nest.

And a third clue, Octavia is looking quite tired.  Egg laying takes a lot out of a formel.

And from Sally of Kentucky,
Lincoln reports Octavia went to bed on the nest last night, Sunday night, and had spent most of the day on the nest and apparently ate there, from his pics. Her eyes look kind of half-open - I hope she is laying and not ill.  I don't know if the Beresford pair in the pics are Pale and Octavia; Lincoln surely didn't seem to think so, and Pale does have fine bars that show on his red tail, which do not show in the shots he posted as the male flies off. However, I will leave it to YOU, the CP expert, to figure it out and tell us :)

Oh no, Sally, not completely up to me.  We're all in this hawkwatching boat together. :)

As I inferred yesterday, urban Red-tails surprise us all the time.  We think we know how they will act and then...WOW, what just happened?

Plus I would be surprised if Pale Male and Octavia allowed another pair to nest on the Westside on the Beresford as that has been Pale's territory since he showed up oh,  these many years ago.

But, as I say, they have surprised me utterly before.

As to what Lincoln, thinks?  I try not to make any inferences about that.  When he comes out and says the pair in the pictures are a different pair,  I will believe him, without question.  Or if Stella sends in a report that Central Park hawkwatchers saw both pairs within a span of time which doesn't work because of location unless they are different pairs, that's fine with me too...but in the meantime....

I have received emails from other readers pertaining to this topic as well...

Mary of Belfast suggested that Lincoln might be joking as technically any pair at the Beresford could be called the "Beresford Pair", even if it were Pale and Octavia...

And Allen Parth of  California, Edie of Texas and Camilla of Alberta all thought perhaps Octavia might be copulating with a different male as per some people's suspicions last season about her copulating with Pale Male plus another tiercel downtown.

(By the way, has anyone read the scholarly paper yet about the three adult Red-tails all caring for one nest?  I wonder if they all three had a hand in possible biological parenthood of  the eyasses?)  

But in the meantime, there's EAGLES flying around  out there.  
I was on my way over to see the Edgerton Eagles, came round a bend near the Rock River and I was startled to see on the side of the road,  two juvenile Bald Eagles making lunch of a road kill opossum.  They both of course went across the river, one to the left and one to the right. 


When I looked away at the opossum she took to her wings and started heading in the direction that her buddy had taken.

Though she hasn't much white on her head, there is certainly some color change to part of her tail and her beak has some yellow to it as well.

And off she went!  I checked on the way back and the juveniles did appear to have returned to their lunch in my absence as the carcass had been dragged around in the snow a bit.

Happy hawking!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The "Beresford Couple", Pale Male, and the Franklin Institute Red-tails

Photo courtesy of

Tonight I opened my email and found a note from long time blog reader and contributor Sally of Kentucky-

Lincoln has pictures at the end of the blog of two RTs labeled "Beresford Couple".  Also Pics of Pale sticking on  527. What new drama is unfolding?

Hi Sally, it may well be only the usual preliminaries of taking to the nest dramas (see also below after my comments those from watchers of the Franklin Hawks in Philadelphia) that are going on once again.

But first lets take on the "mystery couple" at the Beresford.

As you know it is common practice for Red-tailed tiercels to give their mates a choice of nest sites every spring.  

And for many seasons the second choice nest site for Pale Male and his mates has been on the Beresford.  

In fact Pale Male and Lola spent many mornings perched on the Beresford, sitting in the sun.  Early in the day sitting high up on the Westside facing east can be very pleasant and warming particularly on chilly Spring mornings. And in the meantime Pale Male would take twigs to a site on the Beresford as a secondary choice of nest.   But without fail his mates have always chosen 927 Fifth Avenue in the end. 

I can't be positive as I'm not on the spot, and light when using a camera can lie but it is possible that the pair in the photographs copulating on the Beresford are Pale Male and his current mate. The male is paler than the female and relative sizes do match.

We don't always notice twigging and copulation in the secondary spot so this behavior when we do notice can be unsettling.

That doesn't mean that all secondary nests are rejected but in the case of Fifth Avenue I cannot imagine Pale Male or his mates switching.  After all 927 is a very successful site and certainly one of Pale Male's selling points when he courts. 

And if it were a different pair I would think that the Fifth Avenue pair would have been seen taking measures by now. 

But as original hawkwatcher Ben Cacace used to often say, "Never underestimate a Red-tail".  And as I say,  "Never be surprised by new behavior in a Red-tail!" 

Though after 20 some years, Pale Male is very much bonded to 927, I would think something spectacular would have to happen in order for him to switch. 

Below see a report in  which the Franklin Hawks have been seen twigging a new site and their watchers are concerned.

From Kevin Vaughn, on the Franklin Hawkaholics Facebook page (link below)
Dear Hawkaholics,

Over the last 5 years, this group has been privileged to see Mom and Dad and then Mom and T2 raise 15 hawks at the Franklin Institute. In that time, a fine community has evolved with the shared interest in the observation of this nest.

Over the past two days, Carolyn Card Sutton and today, both of us, have observed T-2 and Mom gathering materials for nest building, but they are flying them to the light platform over the train yards at 30th Street. Unles
s their behavior takes a sharp change, it looks like they will be establishing a new nest there.

It is largely inaccessible, and view-able only from a distance. For all of us who have been enthralled by their story, this is difficult news. The platform has no nearby trees or buildings, and they are sandwiching the nest between the bottom of the lights and the platform that sustains them.

Last year, Mom and T-2 attempted to build a nest at the Glaxo Smith Kline building but abandoned that effort and moved back to the FI, although it was at an earlier point in time. We can hope that is what they will do again.

Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation, and will post some pictures of what we were able to see today, but we wanted to prepare for what might be a disappointing season of observation.
Note that the site on the tower, at least to humans and not just because of the lack of amenities for humans to watch, appears inferior to the site the Franklin hawks have used in the past.  The previous site has been used for five years so there will be bonding to it.  But also we should keep in mind that as last year there were fledgling fatalities, though this has never made Pale Male switch,  perhaps the Franklin pair, for that or other reasons known only to them, may be just a little more serious about the second choice this year but still keep their spot on the Franklin Institute.
As always though, one can never say never with Red-tailed Hawks.
Happy Hawking
Donegal Browne