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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Some hawk updates

One of the Green-Wood Cemetery kids

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Things seem to be working with my blog template, so I have a couple of notes then a hawk update.

I spent some time thinking about my experience watching the juvenile hawks, as well as, e-mailing a few people for their opinions. I now realize that it was wishful thinking, not rational thinking that lead me to the mistaken notion that the two hawks were the fledglings from the Ravine nest. For one thing, they were just too good at hunting.

I had been seen the young pair for a while, mostly near the Vale of Cashmere, but never very close up. It was primarily their approachability that made me think that they were this year’s birds. A received a very good explanation in a note I received from Bobby Horvath, a wildlife rehabilitator who works with hawks:

Hi Rob,

I would say that he's last year's offspring from the color of his cere, legs, eyes, and the mostly white wash of the chest area. Anything hatched this season would still have some blotching left on the chest at this early part of the year and the cere would appear greener and the legs would be more yellow, as opposed to a paler yellow.

Which brings me to another point. In my June 5th post I included an e-mail from Doug Gochfeld regarding a young Red-tailed Hawk at McCarren Park, in Brooklyn. My comment (or lack of) may have implied that it was a recently fledged hawk. That wasn’t my intention. I was only pointing out that there was a red-tail in that area. The photographs that Bruce Yolton subsequently took show a year old bird. A few people wrote to me regarding that point and Bobby mentioned it in his e-mail:

I have the same opinion on another bird theres pictures of a few weeks ago on your site described as a young bird from McCarren Park. It too would be a second year bird in my opinion. [...] It's tough telling from just the tail. The eye color transitions from 1st year to second to early adult to late adult. I've had 3rd year birds half red half brown tail and their eye color is split evenly from light brown to dark brow. Both hatch and second year birds have the brown tail just the the hatch years would appear a bit darker if you saw the 2 side by side for comparison.

Yesterday Chris Lyons sent me this e-mail regarding the triplets at Fordham University:

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: June 12, 2007 11:51:32 PM EDT
Subject: Almost empty nest, and an unexpected visitor

I left the campus today for an appointment elsewhere, knowing that both Lincoln Karim and Rich Fleisher were staking out Collins Hall, hoping to catch the third fledging (the first two having happened without any human witnesses we know of).

Earlier that day, trying to find out where the two fledged birds were, I came across a Striped Skunk, scurrying along the edge of Loyola Hall (the roof of which happens to be where Donegal Browne and I spotted the first fledge on Monday). Aside from a somewhat scraggly tail, he seemed perfectly healthy, and not particularly eager to spray anyone with his distinctive cologne. I had always figured we had a few skunks, but this was the first time I'd seen one at Fordham (well, I saw G. Gordon Liddy once, but that's a whole other story, and why malign NYC's only representative of the weasel family with such invidious comparisons?). He seemed to be checking the ground under the bushes for insects and such, casting an occasional wary glance in my direction, and making it hard for me to get a good picture. I doubt the hawks will bother him, and he's certainly no threat to them. But some other human denizens of the campus seemed a bit alarmed when they saw him. Perhaps Pepe will revert to nocturnal habits in future.

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

No question, the fledges from Collins have happened earlier than the fledges from the tree nest they used in 2005. And for some reason, the fledglings this year are taking a lot less time to put some distance between themselves and their former nursery. What I don't know is why. But then again, I hardly ever do.

And this is a follow up from Rich Fleisher:

Date: June 12, 2007 10:00:18 PM EDT

Update on the Fordham Hawks

As of today, Tuesday, two of the eyases have successfully fledged. Not only have they fledged but they are not at all cautious in trying out their new found skill. They could be spotted on top of several different buildings around campus that are not proximate to the nest building. Very different from last year, when the first week of fledging consisted of flying to the trees nearby Collins Hall (where the nest is located). I suspect that the third, who spent much of today whining each time one of the other Hawks flew by will be fledging very soon (Wednesday or Thursday).

(Photo credit - Richard Fleisher)

Finally, in Green-Wood Cemetery, Marge has been watching the two fledglings make regular flights, including back to the nest. With Junior providing a constant stream of food, they’ve become total slackers, returning to the nest for handouts. Since her first nest in 2002, Big Mama has raised 5 broods (“Baby Huey”, the single hatchling from last year, was so large that I think he qualifies as a brood). This is the first time that I’ve seen fledglings returning to the nest. It is possible that the parent could have a strategy. Unlike other locations, the nest is located in a section of the cemetery where trees are pretty spread out. Their flights to the closest trees from the nest average between 55 and 75 yards. Beyond that perimeter the tree cover is more dense. By bringing the food to the nest, it does force them to fly a fair distance. Maybe over the next few days, once he thinks they are ready, the food enticements will get farther from the nest and into the “forest”.

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