Saturday, June 13, 2015


When I arrived at the Park today, there was an eyass, now a fledgling, standing on the railing of Shipshape.  WOW!  And she'd done it without anyone noticingThe folks on the Bench had thought it was Pale Male until long time hawkwatcher Stella Hamiliton arrived, looked through her binoculars and discovered, Nope, that's not Pale Male THAT'S a fledgling.

No one saw the eyass take off from the nest so we don't know exactly when she made her first flight.

When I arrived at a few minutes after 4pm, the error had been discovered.  

 But that was only the beginning of today's hawk adventures....
I'm working on Phase 2, the Second Fledge, right now so stay tuned.  The rest of the saga will be up tonight!

Today was a true day of Happy Hawking!  

More coming tonight!  DB

NInety Plus and Rising

 Large walks over to nest right, note that the eyasses (and often the parents)  keep their talons curled under on the nest.  Likely an innate survival mechanism for everyone involved. 

 The eyasses are waiting out as best they can the 90 plus degree heat.  They pant.  They turn their backs to the sun.
 Octavia arrives with prey and prepares it.  The eyasses note the arrival of food but appear little interested in it.
They keep panting and Octavia looks to be having a bite herself.

Coming from the north past Shipshape is Pale Male being pursued by a Mocking Bird.

 The Mocking Bird is closing in.
 And here comes the peck.
 Pale Male hits open air and there are at least three Mocking Birds after him.
 By the time he reaches Woody, the Mocking Birds appear to have relented.
 The family watches him pass the nest.
 And Pale Male lands on the next to last window on the second from the top row and scratches his face.
 It really is remarkably crowed up there at times.
 Pale Male is still being vigilant.
 Octavia has flown off.  Large is really getting to be a very big hawk like her mother.
 And it is time to do some flapping!
Go Large!  The other two don't appear to have the urge as yet. It's a little after 6PM so things are beginning to cool off a  little. 
 A ballerina has begun to perform over near the Alice In Wonderland statue on the north end of the Model Boat Pond.
One footed flapping....

More flapping!
Things have settled down by the time Octavia does a fly over at a few minutes after 7PM.
Pale Male is still the sentinel to keep everyone safe and I realize I need to make my way home as well.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Eldest Sheep Meadow Eyass Plays with Her Eyes and Everyone Is Remarkably HOT!

On Tuesday when I visited the Sheep Meadow Hawk Family no one was up out of the nest until food arrived.   But on Wednesday, with no parent in attendance at that given moment, Eldest was sitting the rim of the nest playing with his eyes.

Obviously young hawks are looking at whole new world but they also have an amazing set of eyes they have to get a handle on before they try whizzing around the world on wings.
If you watch a young hawk you will see that they are "playing with their eyes".  Basically testing what their eyes can do depending on what they are doing.
Therefore spending time outside the limits of this particular nest bowl brings forward a whole new world which can be viewed in all sorts of ways if you have hawk eyes.

Those of you who have watched eyasses before may have been initially mystified by the fact that young hawks will intentionally have the vision of one eye obscured by a tree trunk or a wall and go back and forth between one eye vision and their two eye vision.  I'm assuming this has something to do with depth perception which is an extremely important tool particularly for landings.  Something to get a handle on as early as possible.

Eyasses also will turn their heads upside down and look at things.  It looks very strange but that too has to do with getting a handle on their specialized hawk vision.

When I returned later that day, a little after 7PM, it was  quite dark under the trees, the eyasses were out of sight in the nest and a parent was  in attendance.

Today when I dropped in on the Sheep Meadow Hawks, yet again someone, I'm betting Q2,  was visible above the nest rim and no adult was in attendance.  This youngster wasn't completely out and sitting on the rim for the best view but her feathers were less mature so it was not the same eyass as yesterday.

Today was hot and humid.  In fact it was more than a bit nasty out there and the eyasses revealed their discomfort.  They panted.
 And then they panted some more.
There is a disturbance down there.  Someone else attempting to get a breath of fresh air?

I get the binoc look.  An expression that is downright "hawky".
And once again there is a disturbance "downstairs".  Soon in this weather,  they will all three be tussling for positions on the nest rim.
While back at Pale Male and Octavia's nest at 927 Fifth Avenue, which has all manner of positives, it also is a nest positioned on hot metal pigeon spikes, backed by baking masonry, and with only a wisp of shade, if that, in the heat of the day.

 By 5:39PM today with the air temperature in the 90's,  Pale Male and Octavia's eyasses had been baking in the sun for some hours.  When they were young tender eyasses and not about to be fledgling Red-tail Hawks, Octavia spent a good part of her day mantling one or all of them from the sun.  

In fact "Little", the eyass closest to this view with his head crammed up into the tiniest bit of shade under the cornice and the last to be hatched eyass,  hates the heat and has spent a good part of  his eyasshood in a similar position to that he is currently taking. Though in his salad days Octavia often had a wing over him in mantle as well.

Never fear though, by 8:15 PM  No one was skulking any longer and Large had managed to get in any number of excellent bouts of flapping. It won't be long before she's off the nest.

Pale Male and Octavia both,  have begun to make any number of fly bys of the nest to give her the idea and to tempt her into making the jump.

Much more to come...always.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Octavia Gives the Eyasses an Unbelievable Flying Lesson

The 927 Fifth Avenue nest from Fifth Avenue
 Here's a crop of the above photo for a slightly better view of what the eyasses are doing.  It is getting warm but interestingly it is also windy.  Large appears to be doing a half hearted, one wing flap.  Medium is scrunched center and Little has his head crammed up under the cornice to get it out of the sun.  Little hates being hot.

I've done the walk up the hill to Fifth Avenue from the Hawk Bench in hope of getting a nice clear photo of Pale Male sitting on the Linda building.  Pale was sitting on Linda when I arrived at the Hawk Bench so instead of setting up right away,  I started up the path to Fifth.   But sometime during the part of the walk where Pale Male was obscured by trees  he'd flown,  because when I got to Fifth and got to a break in the street trees he was nowhere in sight.  


This has been going on for several days now.  I see Pale sitting in one of Linda's windows  while down at the Bench on the other side of the Model Boat Pond.  I walk round the water, then trek the slope up to Fifth Avenue during which while the view is obscured, Pale Male decides to go somewhere else. 

I begin to fantasize that he finds this amusing.

Yes I know he's a Red-tailed Hawk but sometimes...

At any rate, I then turn around and go back down the hill and  back to the Bench which has the broadest view of the hawk's territory.

Okay, I'm telling you all this because it will become important later.  

Be patient.
 Well the eyasses aren't any longer crammed into the back wall...that's something.  That couldn't have been comfortable.

I look over at Linda....UNBELIEVABLE.  He's up there again.  No, he isn't.  It is Isolde who's sitting on Linda.
 Before I can consider walking up the hill for her  picture...she's off heading south. 
She zips past the Lions building.

Everybody watches.
 Interesting.  Octavia taking flight seems to have spurred Large into flapping again.

One leg is off the ground.
This is by far the longest bout of flapping I've seen yet this season!
Octavia is all over the sky.  She kites for a long time just north of 927.  Then she does a fly over of  nest, looking down, checking for effect? She isn't even flapping she is gliding nearly everywhere. Well, she is certainly having an effect on Large.

Then it hits me.  Octavia is giving flying lessons!

"See?", she's saying, "You can do this too.  Give it a try!"

She glides past Woody.
Then flaps past the nest.  Three pairs of eyass eyes are glued to her.  Is there food?  But that isn't what Octavia has in mind...
 Past the nest and on toward Fisher...

Then she swoops down to the treeline.  The hawks do not do this kind of obvious flying ordinarily. Trust me.  A little here, a little there while hunting but stealth is the usual name of the game.  While I was setting up Octavia had done a horde of sky dancing before I ever got a clue or chance to photograph her.
Octavia does a fly by of a pigeon. 
She climbs and swoops and  rides the wind.
 She rides up Woody.
 Then puts on the brakes.
Down goes the landing gear.
Gadging the distance.
She sits there...and sits there...and sits there some more.  Hmmm.  Is she done with the show? And I wait some more.
See Octavia at the tip top left corner of Woody.  Well here comes Pale Male from the north.  Drat! 
Octavia isn't moving a muscle and Pale Male (see him crossing the window on the left of Woody) is going somewhere.  Come to think of it.  What has Pale Male been doing all this time I've been watching Octavia?  Not enough eyes.
  Pale Male has flown over and landed on Linda.  Octavia shows  no sign of going anywhere.  This could be the moment to head up the hill and get that nice beauty shot of Pale Male sitting on Linda that I've been wanting.  He isn't going to elude me this time!  I grab my backpack, my tripod....the camera and start walking fast round the Model Boat Pond... 
Wait!  Octavia is flying toward Linda!

I'm still down by the Boat Pond when Octavia lands on the window railing right of Pale Male!  Oh this could be a great clear shot with both of them in it!  I'm heading up the path...

 On the right of the path as I go up, is a lawn with trees around the edges....I get to the edge of that lawn...and here comes Octavia zooming across the lawn a foot from the ground right toward me and the bushy tree adjacent to me .  When she gets to the tree, her body makes an abrupt right angle straight up a couple of feet in front of me and the tree.  Quite startling actually.  I get to the other side of the tree in a flash and look up.  

Where did she go?  

I scrutinize the tree from the side she was on.  I don't see her, not a bough is wriggling. I get some distance and look over the tree top to bottom. Where is she?  What happened?

I take a picture of the tree...there are any number of people who were sunbathing or chatting on the lawn when Octavia zipped past.  Not a one seems to have noticed her.  I head up the slope, the set of stairs,and make my way to Fifth Avenue for that picture of Pale Male that I want.

You guessed  it.  Pale Male isn't there anymore.  And I don't see Octavia anywhere either.  I head back DOWN the hill.
When I get back to the Hawk Bench and  set up my tripod and camera again, Large is definitely in an ecstasy of flapping.    The flight lesson worked for her.  Then just out of curiosity, perhaps being a glutton for punishment, I turn my camera to look up at the windows of  Linda for Pale Male.
4:50:02PM   No ladies and gents, it isn't Pale Male.  It is the missing Octavia looking quite pleased.  

She is a beauty!

I decide it is time for me to go home.  I stow my tripod and other gear but before I pack my camera I take one more picture of the bird on Linda.  
 Now this picture was handheld so I can't really tell for sure who the bird is because it won't bear being cropped....but it looks awfully pale to me.  How about you?

Happy Hawking--Donegal Browne

Wait!  It turns out that there is an addendum.  Remember the picture of the tree that Octavia seemed to disappear over...

I've just been going over it very carefully, and look what I found...

I do believe that is the beautiful and bountifully clever Octavia looking at me while I take the picture.   I've begun to giggle.

How could anyone not love these hawks?  They are so lovably clever and therefore endlessly fascinating.   One does have to have a sense of humor though.

...Happy Hawking