Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mrs. Bunny Takes A Powder

39 degrees and overcast today and I couldn't find Bunny.  Well, the neighbor kids, the newest members of  the Pale Male Irregulars, though in this case they might well be called the Bunny Irregulars found her.  She was on the completely other side of the house by the Nanny Berry Bushes.  I had not been on that side of the house to look as I didn't think there would be a view of where I think her den is.

Rule One....never assume.

Rule Two....there is no substitute for feet on the ground finicky field work.

But yes indeed there was a limited view of the wood pile from her Nanny Berry spot.

Oh, and sorry there is  no raptor news today.   The tail pipe fell off  my car and  GOSH,  there just aren't any subways around here.  There were sparks coming out from under the car so I figured some car repair was in order before I set myself on fire.

Alternate transportation is available for tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed.  

Happy Rodentia!
Donegal Browne

Friday, April 29, 2016


Once again Bunny was hanging out, keeping vigil.  This time she is
again on the South side of the dog run with a clear sight line to the North where the wood is stacked.
 Ahhh, you noted I'd changed pronouns.  That is due to an email from blog reader Claudia Guy which follows.


I agree with you thinking that bunny is keeping an eye out on her den.

If bunny was sick, I don't think she would be grooming herself.

I'm thinking bunny is a she, because I'm not sure that the he bunnies stick around to help raise the baby bunnies. I was just reading a little bit about rabbits....the mother will not stay with the den because she does not want to attract predators to her babies. She probably sets herself up so she can keep an eye on the den, and will use herself to distract any predators that may venture too close.

Please keep us posted on the bunnies - thank you!


Many thanks Claudia!  A bunny saga from two years ago combined with this year's rabbit behavior is coming back to me now.  

Two years ago I periodically saw a rabbit hanging out in my front garden beside my maintenance building.  I didn't think much about it except I liked the rabbit and periodically took her picture.  
Then some weeks later during a cold rain a neighbor noticed a baby rabbit (too young to be out of the nest) lying in the wet next to my mulch pile.  It appeared that the mother rabbit had made a den in the mulch which seemed to have been disturbed.  He was wearing gloves and put the the baby back in the den and told me what had happened.  I watched.  No rabbit returned.

 I took the baby in,  warmed it, and tried feeding it, but I was too late.   

This time through, the mom bunny, seems a little more experienced and has chosen a sturdier place for a den.  And yes she is keeping vigil.  Yesterday Mom rabbit was sitting as pictured above.  Now the dog run is between where Mom is lying and the wood pile.  One of the neighborhood cats (Don't get me started.) appeared coming round the corner of the house behind Mom.  Mom was vigilant.  She leapt up and ran obliquely, almost toward the cat but directly away from the dog run and the wood pile.  

About a half hour later there was Mom, back after I fancy leading the cat astray, taking up her position of vigilance once again.  

Interestingly Mom rabbit seems to have realized that the dog comes out in the run, never leaves it, and then goes back in the house.  She rarely even gives the dog a second look when he comes outside.  It is almost like she is using the dog as a cat deterrent.  Maybe, maybe not, but dog is helping her deter cats.  They rarely appear on the dog side of the house.

Keep your eyes open!
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Case of the Strange Rabbit

 4:22:2016 See the rabbit sitting under the lilac bush?  
    2:09PM There he is. He's been sitting in the same spot all day.  At a little after 10 this morning I noticed he was sitting there. 

  He periodically washes his feet and grooms similarly to the way a cat pursues personal hygiene, and then goes back to just sitting.

I wonder if he's sick.  Though he does look well groomed and healthy I can't figure out why he just sits there.

He disappeared from about 3 to 5 PM then sat again until it was nearly dark.

I called a friend who lives on a farm and asked whether she thought this was normal in wild rabbits.  She said she didn't know a lot about wild rabbits but she did know that at times they will just sit near their dens watching the world go by.

Okay, this may be normal but I certainly haven't seen any rabbit holes.  I've found one hole and it is the size made by a chipmunk or a ground squirrel.

4:23:2016 The next day at 1:15 I see him sitting at the north end of the dog run...just sitting once again.  He stayed again until it was almost dark.   Don't rabbits tend to eat all the time?  Is he waiting for a female to happen by perchance?  (Actually haven't seen any genitals so haven't actually sexed Rabbit yet.)

On the 24th at 5:35PM he was a bit further south and he was dining on grass at least.  Okay, but where is his "den"?   Have looked rabbit holes.

Wait.   A den doesn't have to be a hole, right?  What is close that might constitute a den?  I start to search.
Ah Ha!  The wood pile.  Note that most of the crevices in the woodpile have old leaves in them except the one center.  And look at the pile of debris on the concrete below the black hole.  It is deeper there than any other spot.  Was it dug out of the opening.  I peer into the black space. Bunny could fit in there.  Perhaps that is his den and the  reason he is suddenly taking his ease around this area which is just north of his various cooling-his-bunny-heels spots.

Time will tell.

 Donegal Browne

Chickadee Nest Continued...

When last we met, I'd looked up at the branch above me and asked myself, "WHAT IS THAT?"

She righted herself and that was somewhat helpful.  Can you tell what she is now?
 You got it!  She's a Nuthatch.  Wait!  What are the Chickadees doing?
If you look very closely there is a bit of a bird visible in the lower right of the cavity.  What is she doing in there?

 Look at that!  She appears to have a beak full of pulverized wood.  They have been excavating.
Wood Chip Beak takes off and the mate shows up.
The mate pops into the cavity and is doing something upside down.  Then she pops out...

And the mate pops back and peers into the cavity.

And goes in head down, tail up.
Then flies back out with more debris.  The mate returns and disappears into the cavity.
The she pops out with even more debris.
 Chickadee returns and leans in for several minutes.
 He backs out a little and keeps at whatever he is doing.
Then further in again.  I suspect more excavation is going on.
 Yup.  We've seen this excavation position before.
 In the meantime, the mate is sitting in the neighbors pine tree with something besides wood debris in her beak.
 When I look back whatever it was is no longer in her beak.
She gives me a look, marches down the branch...
 Gives me another look...
 And takes off.  When I look back at the cavity, the other chickadee is also missing.  They appear to be done for the day.

Happy Birding!
Donegal Browne

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Spring and Everything Is A'Poping--Chickadee Nest Continued, The Case of the Strange Rabbit , the Interrupted Sparrow Dance

When last we saw the Chickadee pair, one had inserted himself sideways into the cavity entrance, legs akimbo, and appeared to be working his way in while doing something.
 Then Chickadee who appears to be upside down with his tail sticking out...
Suddenly went POOF, he disappeared from sight. 
 Not sure what part of the anatomy that is, but part of a Chickadee appears inside the cavity.
 Chickadee bombs out.  (I know, I know, it looks bizarre. You are just going to have to trust me on this one.)
 Second Chickadee immediately shows up and she checks out the interior.
 The she pops into the cavity and before long...

She bombs back out again.
 Other Chickadee shows up, sticks head into hole.
And then pops into the hole.

Then I get distracted.

I look up.... What is that?

To be continued...

Donegal Browne

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Feeding Time at Pale Male's on Fifth Avenue Through the Stellascope! Plus The Teneyke Bald Eagles Nest

Longtime hawk watcher Stella Hamilton has broken the Stellascope out for the year.  She can often be found at The Hawk Bench in Central Park these days, treating hawk fans and passers-by with a close up look through the Stellascope of the Fifth Avenue nest  and this year she is experimenting with taking digiscoped photographs through it as well. 
Photograph by Stella Hamilton

Octavia stands on the nest and if you look carefully there just might be a little white head and shoulders sprouting out of the nest near her feet.

Photograph by Stella Hamilton
 According to Stella, Octavia is now on a break and Pale Male feeds the eyass in front of him a snack.

And TA DA!  Video of Teneyke Eagle Mom feeding an eaglet on the Teneyke Bald Eagle Nest just outside of  Brodhead WI,  while Dad looks on.  Though Dad appears to have kept a portion of the dinner for himself as he occasionally takes a bite of something down by his feet, while Mom feeds the eaglet.

The number of eaglets on the nest is still up in the air.  Earlier in the season Mom could have been feeding two, or feeding one that wiggled around as the youngster or youngsters were too small to actually be seen at that point. 

 Time will tell.

Just as I finished with my observation of the Teneyke nest, Mom flew off and I packed up to leave.   I then headed out for the drive to the nearest Red-tailed Hawk nest, turned a corner and who should be standing not far away in a field?  

 Bald Eagle Mom, Haliacetus me a binoc look from the near-by field.  WOW!

Then she turned her head and gave me the look commonly used by a mature Bald Eagle.  A rather piercing... What Do You Want, expression?

But she makes no move whatsoever to fly away.  Either she figures she can take me or I don't look very threatening.

You know what?  This is one really big bird.  Three and a half feet tall, with a wing span pushing eight feet and a massive very strong I-mean-business beak, to say nothing of her talons.  

And from the look of things, she is not about to go anywhere.  I can't see any prey on the ground but as she is holding her ground and staring me down I semi assume she may have her dinner under her waiting for me to get lost so she can eat it.

Then it occurs to me that though this is the first very close look I've had of her, as her nest is a half mile away from the road I must observe her from, and as she does have eagle eyes and I've been watching this particular nest for some years, I am likely extremely familiar to her.  

We stare at each other for a few more minutes and then I drive away to leave her to have dinner in peace.   She'll be back on the nest tending her progeny in no time.

Happy Eagling!
Donegal Browne