Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quicksilver the African Parrot and the Shut Cabinet...Repeatedly, Grackles Walk on Pond Scum, and the Robin Nest Under the Dam

It all started when I heard the  "clack" of something falling and realized I'd no idea where Silver was.  The clack sounded like it came from the laundry room.  I looked... no parrot.  Could have sworn it was from in here.

Thunk!  Hmmm.  I opened the cupboard door...
                       Honey, how did you get in there?  
 I'm sorry Silver.  Did I shut you in the cupboard? I'm sorry, Sweetie!

I didn't remember shutting the cupboard.   Didn't remember it at all.  Besides wouldn't I have seen him if I did?

Because of his expression I did not offer my hand to help him out.  Not with that look on his face. 

As I was leaving the room I heard him fly out.  Good.
                          And when I visited again...
But later the cabinet is closed again. I did not shut the cabinet.



Tinka tinka tink!

I open the cupboard...a parrot head pops out.
He is shutting himself in the cabinet.  

Why is he doing that?

How is he doing it?  

And being a parrot he isn't about to do it while I'm looking.

May have to resort to a trail cam....

Later I go out to look at the Mill Race as I've heard they are allowing it to refill as the work on the banks has been completed.  

I walk down to the dam.

While the water was so low and slow moving, it had gotten rather stagnant and is full of algae and other gunk.

 And all of it seems to have now floated up to the dam and stopped, with the water flowing over the dam but the gunk just laying there.  

What is that bird doing out there?
The Grackle must be hunting something?  Or foraging for something?  That stick doesn't appear to be floating.  It's stuck in the gunk. 
 And another Grackle.... What's he looking at?
He flies back to another twig and looks intently at something.
 He flies to yet another perch and stares intently.
Another perch.
Into he air...
Did it go over the dam?
Got it!  Suddenly there is something red in his beak.
Another Grackle is further out walking on floating twigs.  All goes well for awhile.
A new twig he's stepping on sinks and he starts to sink himself but his wings come up and he's into the air.

What's that under the walkway on the metal plate?  A nest?
 Yes, a nest!
 Indeed a nest of Robin chicks.

You never know what you will see when you take a walk and take the time to actually look.

Donegal Browne

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pale Male and Octavia Update, Big Red at Cornell, Cattle,Geese and Cranes!

Photo courtesy of

Hawkwatcher Anna Beth with a Fifth Avenue update!

I knew I would not be able to stay for hours today but I had very lucky timing.  I'd just begun to look at the nest with my binoculars when Pale Male flew in from the north to deliver a meal, a pigeon.  The eyasses perked up and watched him come in and Octavia got down to work feeding.  There wasn't a picky eater in  the group!

Next Up from Ann Feldman of Cornell via the Franklin Hawkaholics Facebook page, she said...
No, Big Red at Cornell is not wearing a ball skirt...those are her (big) babies with their heads tucked under her.

Once again today I went out attempting to see some Sandhill Cranes with colts.  

I started out searching the conservation set aside wetland with the  pond near where the crane nest had been complete with a guard gander.  Well the goose was in place but not a crane or even a crane head in sight.  I then went down to the next section of land...more of a grassy meadow if a touch wet.

 OH MY!  It isn't a grassy meadow.  It has turned into a pasture.  Note the fresh grass.  Yesterday and since early Spring there has not been a bovine in sight.  But today?  There is a big red steer with some of his friends down the hill.  Wow!  But still not a crane in sight.  I walk up and down the rural road for an hour and a half, checking both sections of land.  Not a crane in sight.  

Magnolia Warbler...that was nice.  Lot's of testosterone filled Red-winged cranes.

Which gets me to thinking.  Red-wing Blackbirds are very common in this area and particularly in this kind of habitat.  there is a male Red-wing sitting atop a stalk or whatever about every 20 feet in marshy areas guarding his territory and his nest, but when is the last time I saw a female Redwing.  They are very reclusive.  I realize I've perhaps only seen a female once and there has to be a female for every male as the nest at this time of year is what the male is guarding. 

That said, I get probably 20 Red-wing males at my feeders on any given day...but no moms.  Okay, when the guys are at my feeder who is guarding the territory and the nest?

Just then a bird does a fly-by very close to my head screeching at me in no uncertain terms and lands on a nearby fence.  Yikes!  Guess who?
It appears to be Mom Red-wing who is giving me grief. Talk about synchronicity. She looks like she's going to come at me again, she's quivering she is so angry.    I walk backwards toward the road before snapping her picture.

Then I hear the male calling as he lands in a tree nearly over my head his tail cocking up and down. 
Geez, I'm going.  I'm going.  You were just at my birdfeeder weren't you?  

He is not currently grateful at all.
I walk back to the car, pack up my gear, and drive home which isn't really that far away...maybe a quarter mile.  But still a disappointing day...well except the Red-wing interlude.  That was exciting. 

I turn into the driveway and start unloading my cameras.  My cell rings.  It's another crane watcher,  Mike has just arrived and the Sandhills are striding around the newly-become-cattle-pasture like they've been doing it all afternoon. 


I shove my stuff back into the car, jump in after it, and take off again.

 There they are.  Strolling across the back of the pasture trolling for tasty bits.
As the cranes get closer to the cows the female goes down into the little creek bed and the male stands guard keeping an eye on the cows.
Mike having grown up on a farm, reminds me those are not cows.  Those are cattle.  Right.  No big udders.  Cattle.
  I am then distracted by the cattle...okay what is one of these not cows?  A steer.  Ahhh.  Okay one of the steers has sauntered into the gander pond.  For weeks these guys have been hanging out at this little pond.  I don't know if there weren't enough female geese to go around or perhaps all their nests were nearby, at any rate they've all been standing around the pond for weeks doing  nothing much but standing there, at least while I was around.  I suppose they get back to poker and cigars after I leave.  

At any rate this steer is now in their pond and everyone of their eyes is on him.

Evidently the collective stare works as steer decides to get out of the pond and go hang with the others.
That's when I look at the others and the "others" are all pretty much looking at me.  Wow. 


Mike says, they're curious.  If you stand at the fence they'll likely come all the way over to you.


I stare back.  It is then that I realize that even though they are all the same variety they actually look different from each other.
The guy on the left it the kind of guy who is always in need of nap while the one on the far right has just whispered  to the one in the center,  "You do realize she has the same color hair as we do."  And center guy, Says "...Right.."

I'm brought out of my imaginary cattle "Baw, baw, baaaaawl...."

Littlest calf has lifted his tail and his voice and is frolicking.  In fact while the older steers were discussing hair color the little guys have started to rough house. 
 Wait a minute...where are the cranes?
The cranes are still meandering along the little stream and the sun is getting low.   It's time to go.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring if you keep your eyes open?

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne
P.S. Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot, decided to land on my head again today in the laundry room, we may not be quite out of the woods yet.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Buster Is Back! The OTHER Crane Nest, a Decorah Eaglets Update, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak Interlude

 As I hadn't seen Buster the Black-chinned Hummingbird for several days, I thought he'd traveled on but to my surprise this evening about 6:30PM there he was in the little mulberry tree next to the magnolia and its feeder.

Remember I'd found another Sandhill Crane on a nest while I was watching the one in the middle of the pond? 
 The "Just Try It" Crane?  The grass very soon obscured this nest so my main focus switched to the nest in the pond.  Though I still attempted to see this one periodically, and each time  I stopped, instead of seeing the crane, on the opposite side of the pond a goose head popped up above the grass each time.

It was 7:15PM, so the light was already fading but today when I stopped...

Instead of the goose head popping up, two crane heads popped up instead.

Then the right head disappeared, but the left remained.
Then she stood and looked down.
And the male stood and suddenly the female's  head goes down as a Red-winged Blackbird goes for it.

An Aside:  Red-winged Blackbirds appear to be a situational hazard for any creature who frequents wetlands at this time of year.  Yesterday I  watched two cranes walking across a marshy area and every ten feet or so as they passed from one Red-wing's territory to the next, the previous bird would ease the attack, while the next attacked afresh.
The female begins to browse and the male stands guard...and remember the goose head I kept seeing previously when I stopped?  Look at the left side of the photo.  There she is.
Goose withdraws slightly.  The female eyes her and the male continues to stare at the Red-wing.  Then the light fails enough to make even a weak focus possible.

I do hope there is a colt or colts in that long grass.  I'll keep checking.
A pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks also stare.  A disagreement?
The finale of a discussion about nest placement?

And last but not least...
 The Decorah Eaglets
Just in from Jackie of Tulsa-
I'm glad to know that after the 2 electrocution incidents last year, there was a huge effort to retrofit all the hazards before this season rolled around.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A NEW Francois Portmann Thompkins Nest Video, and THREE at the Cathedral Nest!

Photo by Francois Portmann

The Thompkins Square formel shelters her three eyasses from the sun.  She appears to have the knack for motherhood, or is an experienced Mom.

Dad Red-tails on the other hand, upon seeing the eggs brooded over time are  driven into a hunting frenzy by their hormones and, at least it appears, must learn other fathering skills by watching over time.   And pairs appear to work out their own double parenting system.   Tristan always did the last feeding of the day while Isolde took a break, often  atop a building open to the sky.  

Pale Male on the other hand seldom if ever feeds, but is quite partial to sitting on eggs and eyasses for as long as his mate will let him.  He also fully prepares the prey to be eaten before presenting it. 

On the other hand, the formel of the previous Southern Central Park pair , Charlotte, liked to prepare her own prey.  She also refused stiff prey. Pale Male Jr.  once appeared on the nest with a rather stiff pigeon.  Instead of taking it and flying off to eat it.  Charlotte looked utterly disgusted and flew off to hunt for herself.  Junior stood there with the prey watching her go, shoulders slumped.

 You'll note in Francois Portman's truly delightful new video of the Thompkins Square Park pair coming up further down the page, that stiff prey are perfectly acceptable to everyone on that nest.

Francois said...
 Here is a new video from the nestCam:
First, the tircel (at left) tries his feeding skills, 
then the matriarch takes over and demonstrate how it's done!


(Watch the formel's expression and body language as the Tiercel attempts to feed.  DB.)

 photo courtesy of Rob Schmunk
And indeed, there are the usual three eyasses for the Divines, Isolde and Norman, after all! 
Check it out.   
Isolde still takes her evening break but it doesn't appear that Norman feeds the eyasses during it. 
 Not surprising actually.
 Norman's full name is Stormin Norman as he still focuses and has from the beginning on firm territorial boundaries and the harrassing of interlopers.

 Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Isolde Feeds at the Cathedral Nest, Franny the Sandhill Crane Bugs Out, as Have the Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Photo courtesy of Rob Schmunk at

Isolde, of the St. John the Divine Cathedral nest, feeds one of the two eyasses which have been sighted so far.  There is still a possibility that a third eyass, who would be the smallest,  may still be in the depths of the nest.  Time will tell.

 I was under the weather for several days and so did not check on Franny the Sandhill Crane, who was on the nest we've been watching.  Well when I went to look yesterday, Franny and her colts had strode off while I wasn't looking.  

Sandhill Crane colts are ready to leave the nest after only a few days at which time they take off walking after their parents, learning about which foods to eat.

If you take a few steps east and turn round, this is what you see.
 A blue sky and fluffy clouds float in a stream...
                   Swallows feast on insects overhead.

Now wouldn't flying be grand fun on a summer's day?

                      Yellow Warblers hunt in the thicket.

And a little further down the road, is the wet meadow where we'd originally seen a second crane nest but the grass became to long to observe it.  But there are some interesting things going on here...let's crop this down a little.

 The pond is in the left half of the photo.  Now look just to the right of pond.  There is a goose who has popped her head up, likely on a nest though a few Geese today had goslings.

Now look at the warm brown spot in the grass on the far right.
I think that might be a crane lying in the grass with colts. There is the larger center brown splotch, and up right and up left are two smaller warm brown splotchs.

And then there is the very odd thing that I cannot identify at all in the photograph.  Perhaps you can?

 What are those white things in the center of the apologies for the blur.  Whatever it is, it is far away and very odd.  Any suggestions?

I then began the drive back to town and just as I passed the place where I had seen the two Red-tailed Hawks with faint belly bands perched a Red-tail flew above the car.
Not much of a belly band.  She's taunting me.  I never could find their nest.
Even this close, not much of a belly band at all.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne