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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On Monday afternoon I went into Prospect Park to look for the fledglings from the Ravine Red-tailed Hawk nest.

I began my search by heading towards the stretch of woods north of the nest. My plan was to gradually work my way south, past the nest tree and towards the Quaker Cemetery. I stood on the Boulder Bridge for a few minutes then decided to scan the treetops of the Midwood from the ridge on the west side of the forest. I found a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches chattering to each other as they scaled a tuliptree. There was also a pair of Great Crested Flycatcher perched on a dead snag, but no sign of the red-tails. Then, as I was walking down the footpath towards Center Drive, I heard the first squeal. I whistled back and spotted a young Red-tailed Hawk in the woods near Rocky Pass. They hadn't gotten very far.

From the edge of Center Drive I spotted one of the young fledglings perched in an oak tree. Robins were sending out alarms from a stand of linden trees farther down the road. The second juvenile was perched quietly in that spot. I could tell by the bulge in his crop that he had recently eaten. His sibling was hungry and cry nearly nonstop. The young bird also made short flights from one side of the Ravine to the other, but remained only a couple of hundred yards away from the nest tree. I walked up into the woods to get a better view of the two hawks.

At one point, both hawks were silent, their perches hidden from view by Quaker Ridge's dense forest. Overhead I heard the familiar "keeerr" of an adult Red-tailed Hawk. Through openings in the canopy, I spotted Alice slowly circling the nest woods, turning her head from side to side as she scanned for her offspring. She must have spotted them, because she eventually soared off to the north.

Yesterday afternoon Marge and I drove over to Green-Wood Cemetery to look for those two fledglings. It was late in the day and we didn't have much time to search for them. Fortunately, they found us. Within moments of parking the car, one of the eyass flew across the road in front of us and perched on a low branch. It was the youngster that Marge has been referring to as "Lucy". Lucy is pretty large, possibly a female, and has a white patch on her head.

We walked up the hillside to get a better look at the hawk. She was feeding on the remains of a squirrel. It was likely a previous meal as it looked pretty well picked over.

While she was intently pulling off any bits of remaining meat a mockingbird decided he didn't like her in his tree. The small, gray bird was taking his life in his hands. Like a trapeze artist, he'd begin from a high perch on one side of the hawk, swoop down, swat the hawk's rump then return to a high perch on the other side. The hawk seemed either clueless or just didn't care, but the mockingbird went on like that for nearly 10 minutes. Lucy eventually finished her meal and flew off to a cedar tree where the mockingbird left her alone.

Below is a short video of the hawk and mockingbird comedy sketch:

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Marie said...

Rob, have you ever tested the theory that jewelweed is an antidote for poison ivy? The stems, crushed, apparently can be rubbed on the affected spots to relieve itch.

Rob Jett said...

I was aware of Jewelweed's medicinal value, but haven't had to try it out. Last month, while birding with friends at Plum Beach, I was certain I would need to. While walking back to the parking lot, my tripod (which was over my shoulder) caught on a branch, which then whipped around and slapped me square in the face. It was a huge Poison Ivy vine! It took me a panicked 20 minutes to get home and shower. Fortunately, I never developed a rash.

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