Friday, May 27, 2016

PART II The Thursday Micellany-Catbirds, the Reproductive Parts of Oak Trees and an Oriole Creates Acorns

When last we met, the female Baltimore Oriole had just gone from eating the catkins which produce oak tree pollen to touching her beak to the female part of the oak thereby, I'm assuming, inadvertently pollinating the oak tree.  Then ZIP she was gone.  It appeared she flew into the nearby evergreen.
But when I get over there, it isn't the Mrs.  it is the male Baltimore Oriole.  Where did she go?
Where ever she zinged back in, and he flew straight up.

And then back round to the branch next to her.
She remains in what might possibly be a receptive posture for copulation.  He does his little exuberant flight up... and then for whatever reason, they zipped off and  I lost them in the trees. DRAT!
I go round to the front to see if they've come into the trees and there is a Catbird rapidly wallowing in the birdbath.  
He stops and checks to see if I'm coming any closer.  
By the way, the white dish under the bath is water for the rabbits and anyone else who needs a drink but isn't built  to fly up to the bath.
She opens her eyes and checks me out.  No I don't appear to be getting any closer.
She goes for one more splashy wallow...
And she's off! 
I've not had resident Catbirds before but it turns out these guys just love taking baths.   It appears they may be bathing twice a day.

Remember....ALWAYS keep an eye peeled for the good stuff!
Donegal Browne 

The Thursday Micellany-Catbirds, the Reproductive Parts of Oak Trees and an Oriole Creates Acorns Part 1

For whatever reason suddenly there are Gray Catbirds, Dumetella carlinensis, in residence this year.
 Then she gives me a binoc look...
And she's off.  Yes I know the photo is blurry but I rather love bird feet position on a hasty retreat but that isn't it either.  A Gray Catbird has chestnut undertail coverts which are a field mark for the species but one rarely if ever sees them.  You'd think in this position they'd be exposed.  


A bit later I spy the male striding down the fence as if  it were his personal walking path.

Next up for you botanists out there what are the variegated orange flowers above?
 And how about this one?

 Remember the Bleeding Hearts?  On the right are the seed pods.  and on the left is a pod just appearing from the protection of the blossom.
As you can see from the angle of the light that the sun is getting low, and time for the Chimney Swifts, Chaetura pelagica, and those that appear for a fill up before roosting or a night on the nest to appear.

Ever try to get a photograph of a Chimney Swift?  There is a reason they are called Swifts.
 And as Roger Tory Peterson describes them...they look "like a cigar with wings".

 Sometimes their wings seem to be moving independently of each other.  Which looks rather wacky. They aren't.  It is just one of those strange birdie optical illusions.

Then I see a flash of orange heading for the oak tree!  I've been seeing quick flashes of a male Baltimore Oriole, (another new species for my patch), through the window overlooking the feeding area in the early morning but the minute I see him, he's gone.
 It's a FEMALE Baltimore Oriole.  Alright, there may well be a nesting pair!

 She tips her beak up and appears to be eating  the staminate catkins of the oak.  Unless she is collecting bits for a nest?
 While she's eating...a digression.

Oaks produce both sexual manifestations in Spring..  She is dealing with the "male" parts, the staminate  flowers in catkins  that produce pollen.  The The female flowers are much more inconspicuous. They appear about a week after the male flowers. The snuggle in the base of twigs, they look more like tiny leaf buds and are hard to see.
 Looks more like eating.
She gives me a look.
She flips round to the other side of the branch and gives me another look.   She isn't nearly as shy as the male. But then she is up in a tree and he tends to appear on the fence of the feeding area and I'm peering at him through the window, perhaps 8 feet away.
Her beak goes to the female organ of the oak.  I'm assuming she is eating a bit of it as well as pollinating the tree.  

Wow.  Who knew the activity of Baltimore Orioles could create acorns?

Whenever I discover something like this I'm quite newly boggled by the interconnections and complexity of the natural system.

Then suddenly she took off.

To be continued....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Stella Hamilton's Pale Male Nest Report! Plus Pale Male Raids Another Nest...

Longtime Hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton was out in Central Park with her Stella Scope focused on Pale Male and Octavia's nest on 927 Fifth Avenue, today.

Stella:  One eyass is trying to peck and feed itself . (right eyass)
 Pale Male and Octavia are actually on the Linda Building , staying close by.

The Linda Building is on the next corner S on Fifth Avenue.  It became the "Linda Building" because back in the day of the original Pale Male Hawkwatchers  someone named Linda lived in that building.  

 See Marie Winn's wonderful book Red-tails in Love for stories of the young Pale Male, his mates, and the original "Regulars" at the Hawk Bench.  

Hence the name of this blog, if you have ever wondered, as my generation of Hawkwatcher came about when Pale Male and Lola's nest was torn down by the management of 927 Fifth Avenue and we new and to some extent  younger folk arrived....we, second generation Irregulars (a bit like Sherlock Holmes younger helpers) helped to protest the ripping down of the nest and then stayed to watch the nest for the many many seasons since.

And there is also a third generation, though not particularly younger, just those who appeared too late to help with the protests but who arrived to photograph and try for fame of their own by photographing  Pale Male, the most famous Red-tailed Hawk in the world. 

Now back to today's saga...I got a text from Stella. Pale Male raided the nest of a smaller pair of birds...not our favorite of his activities but nature is nature and Hawks do whatever is necessary to feed themselves and  their young.

 We would be terribly upset if his eyasses went hungry, right?

 At any rate, Stella got the word that Pale Male was over at the Metropolitan Museum and high tailed it over there.

  The nest Pale Male had raided lying empty on the ground.  

        Pale Male flew high up onto the Met after his raid.  Though somewhat protected from the furious mob of smaller birds who had banded together to fly at him and peck at this wasn't the best location.
Stella wrote: Pale Male behind the Met after raiding nest . He was mobbed by grackles , robins and blue jays .

Stella also noted, "Here are a couple of the people who saw the whole thing."
                     We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Happy Hawking!
Donegal Browne