Thursday, July 02, 2015

Just in from Stella Hamilton: The Sheep Meadow and St. John the Divine Hawks!

Photo: Stella Hamilton      Sheep Meadow Fledgling

Hi Donna , 

I went over to  St. John the Divine yesterday evening and found an adult RTH, (Madeleine, D.B.) feeding above the statue of St. Peter. It was drizzling and the shots were a bit too high for my camera to get a good shot.  I did see at least 2 fuzzy white heads briefly.  

After my visit at St. John the Divine, I went over to Sheep Meadow and found all 3 babies on trees and their parents busily hunting and delivering rodents to their kids. I did observe meal delivery twice in the short time that I was there. Photography very difficult due to lush greenery and lack of light and hawk activity.  But I did get to see the whole family.

 All photos by Stella Hamilton
Go Norman and Madeleine!

The first clutch at St. John's failed according to Rob Schmunk at

Also Rob has a super checklist of this years NYC Red-tailed Hawk nests on his main page.  Check it out.

 And another shot of Madeleine feeding.

And the Sheep Meadow eyass blowing in the wind on a bough in Central Park.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sheep Meadow Redtails Saga Continues Plus the Stella Hamilton Pale Male Fledge Report,

Valkyrie appears to be watching the entrance/exit to the Sheep Meadow.
             Valkyrie does her Ichabod Crane impression.
      A look to the west.  I can't imagine what she thinks of all the people throwing balls and frisbees at each other.  Though she may not think about it at all as it may not be relevant to her.
One of the eyasses is up and watching the people and the frisbee and ball action.
But not for long.  Not when there is a sibling to be bugged.

 But then a stronger urge takes over.  The urge to FLAP!

                             And look at all that bird dust in the air.

Eyass pauses.  Then begins again.  And will continue to do so until the day comes when either intentionally or not she flies off the nest.


The Stella Hamilton 6/29 Pale Male and Octavia Fledgling Report.
5:31PM  I was told this fledgling just ate  a pigeon by Glade Arch .    Fledgling took 25 minutes to finish the meal .

6:02PM  Fledgling on roof on 76th between Madison and 5th calling to Pale Male who was on the Carlyle .

6:49PM  Two Fledglings on the Ship Shape Building terrace.
Stella tells me that as far as she has observed Pale Male is doing all the fledgling care.  There's no reason to think that anything has happened to Octavia, it is just she has evidentally decided that she deserves a break.  
                   7:55PM              And the neighbors are out!

 Some of you may not know that Central Park is absolutely full of raccoons.  They are extremely adept at raiding the trash receptacles of Central Park.  

Also I found while observing owls in the park, that there are numerous New Yorkers who feed them after dark in the less human frequented areas .  One women arrives with a shopping cart full of day old bread and other baked goods several times a week.  She is well loved by the raccoons to say the least.

My favorite raccoon and food sighting was one evening a raccoon had what appeared to be a neatly wrapped in plastic circus sized cone of cotton candy.   The raccoon was attempting to climb a tree with this item.  The problem being that she had to hold the large package of cotton candy in her teeth. Which meant it was in between herself and the tree.   Her legs weren't long enough to grant any clearance so the cotton candy would wedge between her body and the tree.  She would attempt to crawl up and the cotton candy plastic would stay in place.   By dint of perseverance and moving the cotton candy only a few inches at a time she eventually got it up to her cavity.  Hard work but worth it to a coon with a sweet tooth.

Happy hawking!
Donegal Browne

Monday, June 29, 2015


Just in from hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton, photos and commentary.  --She was out in Central Park again today following the progress of Pale Male and Octavia's three fledglings.
5:28PM Fledgling One sitting on a sparrow's nest crying for a meal. I was told by hawk watchers that Pale Male had already raided this nest . 

5:33PM Pretend raid but still crying . This one is eating the nesting material .
   5:50PM  Fledge2- On a branch above the drinking fountain, from which she had just had a drink, on 76th .   (Note the  full crop. D.B.)        

 6:03PM Pale Male dropped food on the ground. Fledglings dove in but only one ate.  Pale Male was keering loudly from an adjacent tree. 

6:21PM   Fledgling 3 on a branch near 5th Ave and 76th St.

At this point in time, the fledglings are feeling very sorry for themselves. They just don't quite get it yet.  Suddenly after all those weeks of stuffed crops on the nest, hunting courtesy of their parents,  it is now time for the school of hard knocks.  Pale Male and Octavia will continue to make food deliveries as the fledglings learn to hunt for themselves but the meals won't be as frequent as the youngsters think they should be. 


To recap momentarily, Valkyrie and Hunter---

 Just temporary names if you like.   "Mom" and "Dad" become confusing when and if one of a pair is lost. Which invariably will happen over time. To say nothing of rather disrespectful to their personal selves as entities.  Then you have Mom 1 and Mom2 which, at least in my mind, is well...generic and disrespectful.  The next post up will have my perennial explanation of why I think names are the way to go with urban hawks.  

Besides Jane Goodall does it  and I see no reason why we can't follow her lead.  Besides I kept writing Isolde for the formel as this bird looks very like she isn't Isolde but she does have numerous physical characteristics in common...

As I was saying, to recap yesterday's post slightly, Valkyrie and Hunter after observing an intruder to the nest area from the same perch for some minutes had a very quiet little enfamilial chat, at which time Hunter took off....

 And Hunter is off!

 Note he is beginning to curve towards the south.

I suspect Hunter is going to come round and get behind the intruder.  Valkyrie (I started to write Isolde again. Drat!) therefore will be facing the nest ready to nab an intruder before it can go for the eyasses.  And Hunter will be guarding her back. 
Hunter is now obscured by a bough.  Look at his trajectory in the first photo of the sequence above with this one and the following photographs.

See him in this lightened crop?

Behind the bottom bough.
He's still behind the bottom bough.

Now he is below the bottom bough.  In the meantime....
Valkyrie is still keeping the intruder under surveillance

Valkyrie looks down and I shift position slightly.  She still has the prey!  

That's right, this whole thing started with her wresting the prey from Hunter who, I say charitably, may have been attempting to prep it.

                                Valkyrie checks the nest.

                                   She checks the intruder.

The intruder seems to be nominally coming this way.  Tahj comes round the tree I'm standing in front of says,"Come here", very quietly.

And there's the intruder.    It isn't a very big dog you might say.  Well, I think one of the reasons this pair chose a Sheep Meadow tree, even though the area tends towards hordes of people being around, is that it is one of the few places in the park in which dogs are prohibited.  A dog is a predator and the nest is in a tree not a building as so many urban Red-tail nests are.  This pair is obviously urbanized enough to deal with people who, at least in Central Park, tend to be predictable.  They may look at you but most won't even see you and urban people are highly unlikely to try to make a grab for you....on the other hand dogs tend to go with their instincts. 

Whatever the case, my photo program is giving me trouble so we'll have to wait for tomorrow to continue the Sheep Meadow Saga.

Young orange chested Red-tails, Primus and Secundus, on a rural Wisconsin nest- Rock County, Highway County M.
 I noted today that on James O's blog, , that he had a photograph of a non-urban fledgling with an orange chest.  He explained that some NYC hawkwatchers believe that only urban eyasses have orange chests, i.e. country eyasses have white chests.  

Above is another example of rural orange chested eyasses.  This nest was in an oak tree in the middle of a corn field in Wisconsin.  You can't get much more rural  than that.

In fact the only white chested fledgling I remember seeing, was one of Hawkeye and Rose's youngsters out at Fordham...definitely urban. 

Happy Hawking!  
Donegal Browne

Sunday, June 28, 2015


When we last saw the Sheep Meadow pair they were having a bit of a scuffle over prey that Dad/Hunter had brought in.  Mom/Valkyrie flew to the branch and appears to want him to hand it over.  She now appears to be possibly jumping on him and attempting to grab the prey.  Nothing like a good food tussle to keep up your chops.

Valkyrie has a foot on the prey.
 Valkyrie has "captured"  the prey.
                                                 Valkyrie begins eating the prey.
           The prey is grey and possibly can be eaten whole?
Suddenly everything changes.  Both their heads come up and focus.
 In an instant everything is forgotten and in tandem both parents fly to the vertical branch that is used to observe the overall territory and protect the nest.  These are a couple of very focused hawks.
 Whatever it is has moved and their heads and eyes follow it.
                                         The full view.

    Valkyrie's focus changes.  Something related to another perch or some movement perhaps? 
Then I can hear them, ever so quietly vocalizing.  "Talking" to each other.
                                Hunter becomes more vocal.
             Then ever so quietly Valkyrie "says" something.

Then Valkyrie's head turns towards Hunter.  They make eye contact and he's off!

He appears to be heading West South West.

And trust me he's going somewhere in particular....