Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hawk Updates & More Buds

I've been running up to Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery every chance I can, hoping to confirm that incubation by the Red-tailed Hawks has started. I have also been seeing other signs that the Spring transition is building momentum.

(Note - I've decided to name the new pair of hawks in Prospect Park "Nelly" and "Max".)

The ground beneath Nelly & Max's nest is dotted with emerging purple crocuses. I took some photos of the still closed flowers then walked up the hill to the east. I thought the nest was empty, however, while I was setting up my tripod, Nelly arrived at the nest. Moments later, Max stood up from his seat in the base of the nest. The nest is much deeper than it appears. He flew off towards the North Zoo Woods. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was perched on the opposite side of the trunk from the nest. He made a loud, mewing "me-ah" call, over and over. Nelly seemed spooked by the sound, raised her crown feathers and looked around nervously. She flew to the Tuliptree, but returned to the nest when the sapsucker stopped calling.

I spent 30 minutes at Ralph and Alice's nest, but they never made an appearance. The view of their nest is so obscured that it is difficult for me to tell if they've added any new material. On my way out of the Ravine I looped around the back of the ponds, just to check for anything new on the water. I heard a loud chip call coming from the wooded area between the Upper and Lower Pools. It sounded familiar, but I couldn't be sure of the identity. I waited, it called again, then flew across the trail in front of me; an Eastern Phoebe. I smiled and mumbled, "It begins". To birders in New York City (and probably many places in the Northeast), the Eastern Phoebe's arrival symbolically signals the start of the Spring migration. Phoebe's are insectivores and I suppose if insects are beginning to emerge then the wave of warblers and other migrant songbirds isn't far off.

There has been a lot of Red-tailed Hawk activity over Green-Wood Cemetery, but I still haven't seen Big Mama or Junior on their nest. Today I confirmed, indirectly, that they have recently added to last year's nest. Within the last few days I've noticed long catkins appearing on the alder shrubs in Prospect Park. In Green-Wood Cemetery the top layer of the Red-tailed Hawk nest is now adorned with branches bearing those dangling flowers. They would have had to have been added recently, so ...

A couple of other plant observations are beech trees sprouting their long, pointed buds. Also, near the entrance of Green-Wood Cemetery, a seasonal specialty for the Monk Parakeets has appeared. At a row of small Mulberry trees a flock of the verbose parakeets gathered in the treetops. At first, I thought that they were collecting twigs for their communal nests, but then I looked closer with my bins. They were actually nipping off young buds and eating them. I wonder if they taste anything like the Mulberry fruit.

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