Sunday, June 01, 2008

Green-Wood hawks after the rain

Saturday afternoon the sky opened and torrential downpours kept me indoors for most of the day. The rain stopped at about 3pm and I decided to run over to Green-Wood Cemetery. I was curious how Big Mama and Junior's trio weathered the storm.

The nest tree is closer to the Prospect Avenue entrance of the cemetery than the main one on 5th Avenue, but the gate is only opened until 4pm on weekends. I had to rush if I didn't want to walk the length of the cemetery to exit.

I was walking along Linden Avenue, towards the intersection at Atlantic Avenue, when I heard the first alarm calls. A robin was crying out from somewhere up the rise to my right. A little farther down the road I heard the mewing call of a distressed Red-eyed Vireo interspersed with the robin's loud "tut, tut, tut." It turned out to be neither bird, but rather a mockingbird harassing a Red-tailed Hawk. Junior was perched in a cypress tree, looking a bit like he had just emerged from Dorothy's twister. His body feathers were matted and his head plumes stuck out like porcupine quills. He didn't look happy. The Northern Mockingbird relentlessly yelling in his ear and taking swipes at him didn't help matters. I found it curious that the mockingbird had chosen to mimic another bird's distress call. Was his own not sufficiently alarming? Maybe Northern Mockingbirds have a reputation among the wildlife community for "crying wolf."

I scoped the nest from the center of the road. The rain had weighed down the leaves and branches closing off all other vantage points in which to view the chicks. Big Mama wasn't on the nest or in the nest tree. The three young hawks remained hunkered down for the short time I monitored their activity, although one did pop his head up a couple of times. On my way out of the cemetery I spotted Big Mama perched in a cypress tree a couple of hundred yards away from her soggy mate. She either managed to find shelter from the deluge or had already preened and put herself together, because she looked her usual cool, collected self.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

1 comment:

Yojimbot said...

Cool post...I always have good birding luck in the rain!

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