Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pale Male and Octavia's Fledglings Meals, the Fordham Hawks, Isolde and Norman's Fledgling Gets Mobbed, Francois Portmann and the Thompkins Square Red-tails


As usual Pale Male, the Monarch of Central Park, keeps a calm eye on the Central Park fledgling situation. 

Andy Andrews reports that all is going well with the youngsters and Pale Male was seen delivering a rat and two pigeons to his progeny today.

Photo by Robert Schmunk

 One of Isolde and Norman's fledglings checks out the Robins that has been mobbing her today.

For more news on the Morningside Park Hawks of the Cathedral nest go to

For those who missed the June 19th Fordham Redtailed Hawk Update from Chris Lyons, plus a follow up of today's update,

I'm sure all of them have left the nest by this point, but I had been unable to find out where any of them were, or if they'd survived the dangerous leap from that apartment building on Webster.  
This morning, coming in to work, I heard begging calls from a tree alongside the path coming in from Fordham Road, by the library.   I looked up and saw a young Red-tail being fed by an adult.   Just one. 
I don't think this youngster could fly across the tracks, but my guess is that he or she followed the treeline in that little strip park on the other side of the tracks, until he or she reached the north side of Fordham Rd., at which point the crossing would be much easier.   And still pretty perilous, but obviously successful. 
Possible the others are still on the far side of the tracks.   We'll see.
I won't have any time to look for them today, but I'll try tomorrow.

Today's, June 27th, Fordham Red-tailed Hawk Update from Chris Lyons--
Sightings have been scarce this week, but there are at least two fledglings on the campus now.   I'd give a lot to know how they got here.   Rich Fleisher says he's seen two adults together since one was found dead on the Metro North tracks, so it's unclear whether Blanche lost her mate and got a new one, or if this was a completely different adult Red-tail who was killed.

At some point, hopefully, I can at least figure out how big the family is now.  


As many of you will know, the second Fledgling has come off the Thompkins Square Park Nest.  

And a note from chief watcher of the Thompkins Square Hawks for many years, Francois Portman in response to some questions of mine...

2nd fledge yesterday, the 24th,
both fledges are around the nest area and getting food delivered,
so far all good,

 And a link with more photos and details about Shaft's rescue-

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The-First-Fledge-Off-The-Thompkins-Square-Park-Nest-Goes-Down-an-Air-Shaft Saga. and Rock and Roll Raptor Loving Ranger Rob Saves the Day

    Photo by Francois Portmann

24 hours before Christo and Dora's first fledge took the big leap.  He's strutting his stuff flap hopping like a maniac.

June 23, 10:49AM  The first fledge of the Thompkins Square Park Nest takes the big step off the nest and glides over to the buildings on 9th Street and out of sight.

Time passes and hawkwatchers wait for a visual sighting, the sound of begging, anything...Nothing.  They begin asking people if they've seen the young hawk.  Also nothing.

More neighborhood folks begin to search as well.  What is going on?

A little after 6PM a relentlessly searching resident of  9th Street discovered that the young hawk was down an air shaft between two buildings.

Trapped Hawk?  Time for Ranger Rob!  

According to his Facebook page, at 6:15 Park Ranger Rob Mastrianni was in Brooklyn giving guitar lessons.  By 6:30 Rob had cancelled his last student and was heading for 9th Street to institute a rescue.

                  Photo by Francois Portmann

At 2:21 PM, Monday,  I recieved a jubilant email from Francois Portmann, long time watcher of hawks in Thompkins Square Park and lest we forget the creator of the gorgeous layout of  Snowy Owl photos  published in Audubon Magazine not so long ago.

  Francois wrote-1st  now in the park, up in trees, after being trapped in an air shaft between buildings in the East Village for almost a day following his first flight.
Big ups to Ranger Rob!

Big ups to Ranger Rob indeed!!!

Rob reports that 1st fledge was in good shape and in perfect feather so immediately was taken to a tree in Thompkins Square which point  parents Christo and Dora were on the scene overseeing the situation so no need to  worry about 1st Fledge's after fledge care and feeding.

(This youngster is thought to be male and it seems to me that most if not all young hawks I know of  who end up in air shafts are boys.  Why?  Are they just the right size, females being ever so slightly larger?) 

Happy Hawking!!!
Donegal Browne    (This is the second post of the day, therefore scroll down to see the first.)

Turkey Hen Strategies to Protect Her Poults

As usual when one spies a turkey hen with poults, they are disappearing into cover.
Two little poult heads peer at me as the car creeps toward them.

I wait for the typical disappearing turkey tail feathers into the foliage as I continue to creep along the road..

But wait!

Will wonders never cease; The hen has reappeared.
I get closer but she holds her position and I realize she is looking at something beyond me.

I pass the hen and realize that they hadn't hidden in foliage, they'd laid low behind a rise in the ground.  These poults aren't long out of the egg.  There could be as many as 15 or 20 of them.

Now they all do head into the long grass.

But Mom comes back out having told the little guys to stay in whatever way Turkey Moms communicate STAY  to poults.

This is all very unusual.
And she continues to distance herself from cover, still looking "over there".  Do Turkey Hens use themselves as decoys?  Not that I know of.

Suddenly she turns back and starts to trot toward the bushes.
And the answer to this riddle comes racing out over the gravel to his mother as fast as his little legs will carry him.
In fact he is running so fast he is leaping with each step.  See.  Neither foot is on the ground.
Tail End Charlie makes it into the bushes but Mom isn't following.
As I'd followed her laterally before and as  I didn't turn down the driveway she has decided to go in a new direction, one exactly opposite to the sitting car.
She's going further away but she is also getting closer to the cover as she goes.  The poults are about to expose themselves but it is faster going for the little guys in the shorter grass.
Further away but slightly more exposure.  Mom is keeping an eye on me but also on them.  I wonder if turkeys can count?

The poults are starting to come out but she has started to go in.  Whether they can count currently isn't relevant as vocalizations are currently doing the job of communicating presence.

Mom checks on me.  Most of the poults never left cover and the rest are going back to cover.
Only one poult left exposed and he's going in.
 And then there is nothing left but the tip of Mom's tail.  And a split second later it is as if they had never existed.

Good trick that.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

7:57:32 PM STella Hamilton in Central Park with Pale Male and the Fledglings If You Want to Read the Report in Order Scroll down to the 5:25PM Report

 Stella says,
7:57:32 PM  Pale Male is facing south.  Fledgling is on another branch.  I think that both will roost there tonight.  I hear another fledgling calling from the distance.  Not much going on now.  It is getting quiet.

I asked Stella who had won the food fight.

First Fledgling won the food fight.  Second Fledgling went up a small tree and begged all evening.  I think it is Second Fledgling who joined Pale Male in his roosting tree.  Second Fledgling's crop looks like it has some nutrition in it.  (The crop is slightly bulged as opposed to being completely  flat.  Going to sleep a little hungry is another lesson toward learning to hunt for ones self. DB)

The Third Fledgling is further north, just a few yards up.

And where is Octavia in all this?  

Stella responded,  I got in at 5:30PM and there has been no sign of Octavia.

Happy Hawking!  More as it comes in...

Donegal Browne

7:47PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park with Pale Male and the Fledglings

7:47PM   Though Stella has been photographing in low light since she started the reports today due to the lateness of the day and the shade under the trees,, it is now impossible to get even a grainy picture.

She reports:

Pale Male and  and a fledgling are together in his roosting tree in Glade Arch.

6:57PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park with the Fledglings Lucky ME!!!

6:57PM  As Stella says, "Lucky me!"  The other fledgling just walks right up to her while focused on something else.  To these fledglings human could be moving rocks for all the trepidation they instill in them.  

Never fear before long they get on with their young Red-tail lives, mimic their parents,  and no longer just walk up to people.

Though one day at the Hawk Bench, Pale Male came within a a few inches of taking Stella out accidentally as she inadvertantly walked in front of him as he dove for a pigeon.  No one had noticed he was hunting from the tree above the Bench. 

 Pale Male is an incredibly stealthy hawk. 

6:54PM Crazy!, Stella hamilton in Central Park with Pale Male and Octavia's Fledglings

6:54PM  Two minute later the Fledgling has gone over and flapped into a tree completely oblivious to all the watchers he has placed herself in the middle of.  Note the photographer down right.  He appears to be laughing ruefully.  Here he is with an incredibly long lens and  the fledgling has come over to him so closely he could stand touch him.

6:52PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park with the Fledglings

6:52PM  The humans look at the Fledglings and the Fledglings look at the humans.  The Fledgling center seems particularly interested in the human activities.

6:51PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park with the Fledglings

6:51PM  Periodically the fledglings will forget all their young Red-tail dramas and suddenly notice the spectators.  This is one of those moments. 

They never appear to be bothered by the humans. They have been seeing them all of their young lives and no one has bothered them.  They just take notice periodically.

6:40PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park with the Fledglings

6:40 PM The loser of the food fight jumps on a pine cone as if it were prey and looks up at Pale Male. A hint?  

5:32 Plus Food Fight! STella Hamilton in Central Park as It Happens

5:32 Plus,  Food Fight.  Note Two's talons are now gripping the half pigeon as well.  Which often happens.  At which time they are both semi on their backs having a pigeon tug of war.

5:32PM STella Hamilton in Central Park as it Happens Food Fight 2

5:32PM Lots of Flapping by One and Two.  Note Two has his talons up in the air in defense.  One is doing the aggressive hop hop flap offense while attempting to keep the pigeon underfoot. (Half pigeon as it turns out.)  Pale Male shares out the goods.

When there are three fledglings, often the two elder have many episodes of fisticuffs initially, while Three often learns  stealth and waiting while still being fed by the parents... as they all are.

 Three often becomes a master of deception and sneakiness...good attributes for a hawk as well.  Aggression appears eventually  but in a different sequence of development.

6:31pm Stella Hamiliton in Central Park as it Happens Food Fight!

6:31PM Second Fledgling appears and heads for the pigeon, first fledgling jumps at him and knocks him over.

(This is completely normal behavior.  In Pale Male's family everyone always gets enough to eat but the competition teaches life skills for later use.)

6:19 Stella Hamilton in Central Park as it Happens

6:19pm  Fledgling begins pulling feathers, cleaning up, and eating pigeon.

6:21PM Stella Hamilton in Central Park as it Happens

 photo stella

6:18PM  Delivery is a pigeon not a rat.  It is then accidentally dropped to the ground.  Fledgling goes after it.

Stella Hamilton in Central Park as it Happens 6:15pm

6:15PM  Dad!  That's my rat!

Stella Hamilton in Central Park As it Happens 5:25pm

Photo Stella Hamilton

5:25 Fledgling on Hexagonal Building north of  Model Boat Pond

FLASH!!! Fledging Imminent at Thompkins Square Park!!!

Photo by Francois Portmann

If you've not seen a fledgling come off the nest for the first time,  it is one of the most exciting moments in hawkwatching bar none.

Francois Portmann,  chief watcher and creator of  the above view says that fledging is imminent at Thompkins.  So if I were you I'd be down at Thompkins Square Park participating in the vigil waiting for the big moment. 

Besides the fact that as this is a new nest it is unknown how successful a spot it is for fledglings to get where they need to go, i.e. the park and not the street bristling with traffic.

Another reason to be there.  It has happened that a fledgling came down into city traffic and had to be rescued and placed in a safe green space by a vigilant hawkwatcher.

For those new to the "fledgling pick up", it is the feet you need to go for first as they  are a fledgling's or really any hawk's automatic weapon.  In an emergency, grab the fledglings ankles with one hand (Don't be timid, JUST DO IT.) and use the other hand to hold them close to your body until you get them to safety.