Saturday, July 11, 2015


 When I had left the kitchen to investigate the sound of something falling over in another room on the other side of the house, thank you kitties, I had been beginning to make a pie. 
 (Strawberries are waning but raspberries and blue berries are in full swing.)

 Silver had been on his window perch in the kitchen.  When I returned he was as you see him above, on the mixing bowl staring into the Crisco 

 Yummy!  Fat!  

I'm assuming that fat, as it was for humans when we were in the wild, is hard to come by for parrots in the wild, therefore they, like us, have a built in craving to eat as much as possible when it is available.  Silver always has an eye peeled for unguarded butter dishes as well.  

The old "get it while the getting is good" signal built in for our distant ancestors, is driving both of our species to gobble fat even though fat is available anytime at the store for us and therefore when they can nab it our parrots.
 The possible dilemma for the parrot which turned out not to be much of a dilemma at all was whether to give me his standard "What?"  when discovered in a compromising situation...or to just keep eating shortening as fast as possible. 
 He chose eating shortening as fast as possible.  He didn't even pause.  Silver dipped his head and started ingesting Crisco as fast as parrotly possible.
 Typically of a parent of a small child or the caretaker of a parrot, I said, "Silver! WHAT are you doing?"

 He did tip his head slightly more my way but kept eating.  Needless to say, I scarfed him up and put him back on his perch while giving the standard lecture...   Bad Silver.  Don't eat the shortening.   Stay on your perch.

 Yeah, I know.  Won't make a bit of difference the next time the Crisco is unattended.  He can't help himself. 

Okay he probably could but he has this urge....
 Later in the day, I came into the laundry room and found him hanging by his feet from the cupboard.

"Ah, Silver, do you want to be hanging upside down from the cupboard or are you stuck?"
 No answer.  

Now remember how he feels about the possible "nesting cavities" in the laundry room.  They are private and we don't talk about them.  

When spied doing some kind of possible nesting activity he acts as if whatever it is, is perfectly de de dah. 

 In this case he is communicating that he always hangs upside down and everything is perfectly fine.

Actually he likely was trying to pry open the cupboard door that has been zip tied closed (That one has cleaning products in it.)  and somehow he ended up feet up and head down without a beak "handle" in reach to right himself.  I suppose that eventually he'd have to try to get some lift with his wings in that small space to keep from landing on his head when his thighs or toes gave out. 
I then notice that his thigh muscles are beginning to quiver.  Stress on the muscles.  He's definitely  stuck.  See his tail braced on the shelf above?

Now it is my dilemma.  In order to get on my hand he will no doubt use his beak as the needed third point of support in order to release a foot.  Clamping down with his beak for balance to get a foot on my hand is going to  puncture my hand.   

Bad option.

I look around.  Ahhhh...there is "the stick" in the corner. 

"The stick" is a long dowel about the length of a broom handle.  It is used to move irate parrots in tantrum who are so angry they loose rational thought, from one place to another without the human getting perforated body parts.

Or in this case,  moving parrots who are stuck hanging by their feet. 

Only just the sight of me picking up "the stick" makes Quicksilver irate.  

Sigh.  Yes, Silver, and I suspect African Grey's in general, do kind of a "growl" when in a tizzy.  He knows that when the stick gets close enough, he will grab it and bite it and I will have control of the stick and he will find himself going into his cage via the stick, to calm down,  but he just can't help himself. 

 Currently he is having an automatic anger response to the stick because of past association even though he is currently stuck upside down and the stick will help him be right side up.  

Most Parrots are emotionally hot.  Though I have met a couple who aren't.  More on that at a later date.  Back to the stick.

Usually when the stick appears Silver is having a fit for one reason or another, sometimes just hormones, and now because of association his anger is automatic when you reach for the stick.  Though the stick is just a perch, he knows he'll go for it and loose control of where he is.  Even though in this case he doesn't want to be where he is.

Emotionally, parrots are like very small human children. Their emaotional quotient is thought to be that of a two year old. 

While with human tasks of intelligence they rate as about seven year olds.  

Whereas with parrot tasks of intelligence, like hiding the pin cushion they've nabbed while you were out of the room, when they hear your footsteps approaching, and getting themselves back to where they were before you left, they are stellar. 

Many parrot's guile level is remarkably high.  Higher, in my opinion, on a moment to moment basis than that of humans

It is true,  Silver did nothing but eat faster when I returned when it came to the can of Crisco.  


He knows that nonchalance isn't going to work, and it wastes possible eating time plus he isn't big enough to hide a can of Crisco, but he sure can hide a pincushion or other parrot portable item extremely well so you don't see he has it.

Trust me. 

Donegal Browne

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Stella Hamilton Eyass Report for the St. Johns Nest Of Norman and Madeleine Plus Pale Male and Octavia's Fledglings

 All Photos:Stella Hamilton
Stella Hamilton was on the job once again.  Here is the second clutch eyass toddling around on the St. John the Divine Nest. 

 Photo: Stella Hamilton
And here is her mother, the beautiful Madeleine...looking concerned.  From her activities and expression she appears to be a somewhat anxious and possibly  inexperienced Mom.  Next year should be better.  

Then Stella takes a trip downtown to check on the fledglings of Pale Male and Octavia. 

 Photo: Stella Hamilton
Now there's a stealth but comfortable position.
 Photo:Stella Hamilton
Definitely an urban fledgling, walking the fence is no trouble at all.
 Photo : Stella Hamilton
Look at how the breast muscles have increased with true flying instead of just flapping.  A beautiful set of feathers.
 Photo: Stella Hamilton
Hanging out with an eye always peeled for their parents.
 Photo: Stella Hamilton
Standing tough.  Ready for all comers.
Photo: Stella Hamilton
There's no better dinner than a nice rat.  Plus you're doing your ecological duty to rid the world of vermin.

Don't believe it's a rat?  See the tail wrapped around her beak!

Many thanks to Stella for all her work!

And stay tuned  for Pale Male/Pale Male Jr./Tristan DNA results!

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne






Photo by Francois Portmann                                                           
                                                     Anax emperor

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Stella Hamilton July 4th Hawk Report For St. John the Divine and 927 Fledglings Plus a Hawk Behavior Special on the Last Hour of First Fledge Day at 927 Fifth Avenue

                         One of Pale Male's and Octavia's fledglings in Central Park

First off, New York City hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton sent in her sightings for July 2nd and 3rd.

 Hi Donna, 

Today , I started my hawk adventures by visiting the St. John the Divine nest . Now I believe there may be only one "massive" eyass in the nest. 

  Photo by Stella Hamilton
 I took a picture of a parent (Madeleine, I think, DB) and eyass from the corner of 110th and Cathedral Avenue, so once again my photo is a bit far away. 

  Photo by Stella Hamilton
The nest is along 112 and Morningside Drive above St. Peter; the Saint is holding a giant key. 

 Photo by Stella Hamilton
Then, I went over to 76th and 5th Avenue to follow up on Pale Male's kids. When I arrived, I found one of the fledglings on a railing, sitting prettily for all his/ her admiring hawk fans.  
(Also see her fledgling picture that tops this blog entry. D.B.)

Lots of kids in the playground, so we had to do some traffic control.

 Photo by Stella Hamilton
 The fledgling drank and took a bath in a puddle. He/ she was so fun to watch.
            Photo by Stella Hamilton
             ( Bathing is another likely instinctual behavior as is drinking.  Remember fledglings have never had a drink until they leave the nest.  And no one in the Park, as far as I know, had ever seen a parent teaching a fledgling to drink. DB)

  Photo by Stella Hamilton
  The other 2 fledglings were on the roof tops, sometimes on the trees, begging for food.

I did not see any deliveries from Octavia or Pale Male but I'm not too worried about them going to bed without supper as their crops don't seem to be empty.  
 Also sent you a video of the bathing beauty. 

Stella . 
And Happy 4th!  

And a happy Fourth to you too Stella! Many thanks for  the news.

As to the video, dear readers, it  will be posted just as soon as I solve my video download problem.  Drat! DB


of June 16th, 2015.  This is the day that both Large and Medium fledged off the nest on 927 Fifth Avenue.  

Those events were covered in a previous blog but much more occurred after that particular blog ended with a promise of more later.  This is the later.... June 16th.... 
The time is now pushing 8:00PM.  Observations were made for the most part from the Hawk Bench, west of the Conservatory Waters/Model Boat Pond in Central Park, NY, NY.
 7:52:15 PM Those are Little's tail feathers (Pale Male and Octavia's youngest) on the left,  and Pale Male's tail feathers  are on the right.

Now some might ask, particularly the picky judgmental types, aren't you starting in the middle?  

How could Pale Male fly onto the nest without you seeing him.  Are you in some fantasy? Weren't you paying attention.

Actually if I were in a fantasy,  I'd be watching from the roof.  I've been up there and the view is spectacular!
Okay, seriously, since you asked.  Not only was I watching the nest previously...I was watching Large negotiate the railing on the Woody Allen Building as well, (a sequence not yet blogged by the way.) while Little stood on the nest, alone for the first time with evening coming on and not having much to do at all.
All times PM
7:30:17 Little watches Large negotiating the south railing on Woody.  I too go back to watching Large after checking in on Little.
7:47:58 Large attempts to see under the curtain inside the window. 
7:48:30 It appears the light reflecting on the glass may have been spoiling the view so she moves further over keeping her balance with wings, tail, and crooked feet.
7:48:55  Large stares into the window or stares at her own reflection and I watch her stare for some minutes.  And that dear reader is how I missed Pale Male flying into the 927 nest.  It was late and no other watchers were there to call, "Hawk UP!" as I scrutinized the activities of Large. 

 One of the shortcomings of being a lone viewer of stealthy flighted animals.

Back to 7:52:15 and the nest.  One could assume by the positioning that Pale Male is bringing Little food.  If you noted the previous photo of Little, his crop is quite flat, and he is likely very hungry.
7:52:17  Pale Male suddenly ducks as Little grabs the prey, and heads away with it.  
 (And no, I do not know what the prey is and neither did a number of experienced folks that I emailed.  If anyone has a thought, email me.)
 7:52:18 One second later, Little is mid-nest eating.  Pale Male has stayed down and turned his head away so as not to excite Little's instinct to continue fighting over the prey by direct eye contact.
7:52:19  Little hunches over the food.  Pale Male continues to keep his head down and face averted.

7:52:24 Little eats.  Pale Male is still.
 7:52:56 Pale Male moves,  looks south.  Little's head flips around and looks at Pale Male.
7:52:57 In the moment I thought PM may have yet remained in the passive position but in this photo it appears that at least for a split second Pale Male may have turned toward Little with nictitating eyelids closed.
7:53:06  Not being able to see that small detail from the ground I turn my eye to Large who is up on Woody. What is she up to now?  While I am attempting to figure that out...
 7:53:49  I catch movement from the corner of my eye.  It's Pale Male and he's off the nest and flying in front of Woody with a Mocking Bird hot on his tail.
7:53:49 This picture is in the same second as the shot above. These two birds are really whipping along.
 7:53:49 Also in the same second..... Pale Male heads into the trees with the Mocking Bird in hot pursuit.  This way he tempts the Mocker away from Little and Large.
 See Pale Male through the branches?
5:54:26 Large is still on Woody and Little is on 927.

Look at that profile.  That is the profile of a female Red-tailed   hawk.
7:54:40  Back at the nest, Little appears to be scanning for leftovers.

   7:55:49 Maybe Dad left some scraps. Note bulging crop.

7:56:26  Large is still checking things out.
7:59:43  Large looks at Little and the nest.  It appears Large will perch here for the night.  Note her instincts have informed her roost decision or she has learned through watching her parents... as she has her back to a wall and an overhang over her head...  protection from blindsiding attackers while sleeping.
7:58:53 Little looks up at Large.
8:01:34 And watching over  everyone is Mama Octavia sitting on her favorite observation perch on the corner of Linda, which is south of everyone else in the family.

Yes, Octavia is looking north.  The direction of likely, her entire family.  Large is on Woody. Medium fledged that direction into the trees earlier today and  Little is on the nest.   

And as the gloaming begins, Pale Male will likely continue, as is his usual behavior, to  hunt the playground just north and slightly east of the Model Boat Pond.  

Children being fond of snacks and somewhat untidy, it is a grand place to hunt rats late in the day. And that is very very near where Medium fledged into the trees earlier as well.   Pale Male tends to roost at the  Arch just slightly north of the playground.  Perfectly placed to watch over everyone from the north.

8:01:38  And Little is looking south towards Mom.  And she is still looking north toward everyone else.

And you can bet, as it has always been  the case when I've tracked Pale Male's roosts during breeding season, he is in a direct sight line with his mate all through the night.

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne