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Monday, June 27, 2005

Mourning Dove addendum

My mother just forwarded me the last two photos from the Mourning Dove nest:

Ready for first flight

Empty nest syndrome

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Dove's Story

My mother received the following photographs from a friend. Apparently a pair of Mourning Doves decided that they liked her bicycle basket and began building a nest in it. She couldn't stop using her bike so she hatched a plan that worked like a charm. My mother had given her a perfect sized basket for a replacement. She gently lifted the nest out and placed it into the new basket. The doves didn't seem to notice the change. One day she took that basket out of her bike's basket and placed it on a chair near her door. The Mourning Doves continued incubating their two eggs, unfazed. Eventually they raised two healthy chicks.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Shawangunk Grasslands NWR

Shawangunk Grasslands at dawn

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday Shane and I drove north to Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, as well as, Sharon Springs. Despite periods of rain showers most of the day (which was eventually replaced by gusting winds) we managed to locate our target birds. The distance to Sharon Springs was much greater than I had expected and my wife thought that we were insane to make the trip there and back in one day. She might have something there.

The last time that I was at Shawangunk Grasslands NWR was early February of last year. In fact, I had only been to that location during the cold months. The scenery today was a fantastic contrast to the colorless landscape of winter. A base layer of varying shades of green-ness was primarily topped with spikes of White Beardtongue. The mid-ground vibrated with yellow, star-like points of Birdfoot Trefoil. Some of the other wildflowers that caught my attention were milkweed (covered with Red Milkweed Beetles), mullein, chicory, wild parsnip, Viper’s Bugloss, Bladder Campion and the dainty Deptford Pink. I probably could have spent all day sorting through the dozens of native and non-native wildflower species.

White Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Bladder Campion (Silene cucubalus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The other major change from my winter visits is the multitude of sounds in the area. First, it is loaded with Bobolinks. At one point we counted 15 in one tree. Bobolinks, to my ear, make a mechanic, almost otherworldly song. The mostly climbing scale of harmonizing notes is described in many field guides as bubbly, warbling and yangling (that’s a new word). I think you need to hear it and try to form your own description. Meadowlarks were also fairly abundant. I usually only encounter them during the annual Christmas Bird Count when they aren’t singing. I was unfamiliar with their vocalization and was surprised to hear that their flute-like whistles sometimes ended in a “peent” that was very similar to a Common Nighthawk. Upland Sandpipers have always managed to elude me but we learned that they breed here so I was optimistic that I’d finally see one. Soon after we arrived Shane spotted one circling a section of the grassland. I’m not sure what was motivating him but he spent most of his time circling and making an eerie, rolling whistle. Also common throughout the refuge were Savannah Sparrows. They would periodically perch at the top of a tall stalk and belt out a buzzy, high-pitched song. At times the near constant chattering of the Bobolinks made them difficult to hear.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)
-Click to hear the amazing Bobolink song-

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Our motivation for traveling to Sharon Springs was the posting of some online reports of two “special” birds in the area. I’m not normally a “bird chaser” but I think a couple of things have influenced by behavior this year. First, the year began with some pretty extraordinary observations of rare birds. By the start of February I had recorded 114 species of birds, which is very high for me. The chase got into my blood. Second, my hawks failed to breed this year. The time I would have spent observing and tracking them was freed up for looking for seasonal specialties and rare visitors. A small, unused field in the tiny hamlet of Sharon Springs was hosting a pair of Dickcissels and a Henslow’s Sparrow. Dickcissel is described as a “casual breeder” in New York State. The Henslow’s Sparrow is listed as “Threatened” in New York and “Endangered” in seven other states.

By the time we arrived in Sharon Springs where the Henslow's Sparrow was reported the sun was strong but so was the wind. We located two Dickcissels almost immediately clinging to the telephone lines. It took nearly an hour of walking back and forth in front of the fields before we heard the Henslow's Sparrow. He was calling and singing from within the cover of the thick grass. He eventually perched out in the open but it was obvious that the wind was making his job difficult. I guess he tired of fighting the wind and finally flew into a small shrub for cover. At one point the local Bobolinks became very noisy and agitated. A harrier had dropped in to circle the field but the blackbirds chased him off. I was afraid that my first Henslow's Sparrow would end up as somebody's lunch.

The strong wind made it impossible for me to take any photographs of the Henslow's Sparrow but there are a couple of great shots on the Indiana Audubon Society website.

-Click to learn more about Henslow's Sparrow-

We took a more scenic route back south (route 145) and stopped near the town of Broom at "Franklinton Vlaie Wildlife Management Area" (I just learned that Vlaie is Dutch for a low marsh, piece of ground or a meadow). We walked a new, gravel trail from the parking lot towards a wooden overlook. I was fiddling with my camera when Shane saw something up the path and quietly tried to get my attention. By the time I heard him and looked up, it was gone. A Bobcat had been walking up the trail from the water and, for a moment, didn’t notice us. When he did, he silently bolted into the woods. We looked for tracks in a stretch of soft mud at the edge of the gravel covered trail. I took a couple of photos of one paw print with a fairly clear outline.

Bobcat track

(Photo credit - Rob J)

What a great, but exhausting day.

- - - - -

Shawangunk Grasslands NWR & Sharon Springs, 6/22/2005
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier (Sharon Springs, NY)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon (2, Brooklyn Bridge)
Killdeer (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Upland Sandpiper (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Great Black-backed Gull
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Willow Flycatcher (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Least Flycatcher (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Eastern Phoebe (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Eastern Kingbird (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Cedar Waxwing (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Yellow Warbler (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
American Redstart (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Ovenbird (Sharon Springs, NY)
Common Yellowthroat (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Indigo Bunting
Dickcissel (2, Sharon Springs, NY)
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Savannah Sparrow (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Henslow's Sparrow (Sharon Springs, NY)
Swamp Sparrow (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Bobolink (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, Sharon Springs)
Eastern Meadowlark (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR)
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Perfect Rose?

(Photo credit - Rob J)

My wife and I took a walk to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Roses are now in bloom and we wanted to stroll through the garden's Cranford Rose Garden. From the size of the crowds, a lot of folks had the same idea. Roses of every size, shape and color seemed to illuminate the all the surrounding plants. We watched bustling honey, carpenter and bumble bees revelling in the sudden deluge of necter. Some of the bees actually seemed to be rolling around within the rose's pollen covered stamens.

Elsewhere, peonies seemed past their prime but there were plenty of other interesting blooms to enjoy. Between the gardens and our walk across Prospect Park I snapped off a lot of photos. In Prospect Park we stopped to check on another oriole nest, this one on the Nethermead Meadow. The nest appeared to be empty so I guess the chicks have fledged.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wild Mustard (Brassica spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Purple Iris

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wild Garlic (Allium vineale)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Caucasian Wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia )

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Purple Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus )

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Today in Prospect Park

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I walked passed the Litchfield Villa on my way towards the center of the park. The grass that borders the footpath is now dotted with blooming white clover. Lady's Thumb's bright pink flower spikes have recently added a splash of color at ankle height. I bent down to take a photograph of the fuchsia flowers and noticed a minute grass spider. He stood motionless at the opening of his tunnel web in an English Ivy leaf waiting for lunch.

Lady's Thumb (Polygonum persicaria)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Grass Spider (Agelenopsis spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

-Click to learn more about spiders-

In the woods near the Picnic House I heard the unhurried, unremitting “here-I-am, where-are-you” of a Red-eyed Vireo. Over the next few hours I heard at least two more singing as they remained hidden within the woodland’s canopy.

I didn’t really have an agenda when I walked into the park, I just wanted to see what birds, bugs and blooms were around. I ran into Steve Nanz in the Midwood as he looked for moths and other insects to photograph. We spent a lot of time together and he showed me how to locate moths hidden on the underside of leaves. The macro function of my camera is very limited but I was able to photograph a few species. Some of these tiny creatures that usually go unnoticed have amazing colors and patterns. The details of Venusta Orchard Spider was a big surprise. His abdomen is so silvery that the reflection from my flash made photographing him difficult. He is no larger than your computer’s cursor on this page.

Venusta Orchard Spider (Leucauge venusta)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Cranefly (Tipulidae spp)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

As we were looking for bugs I heard one of our Red-tailed Hawks calling from above the forest. I caught a fleeting glimpse of him as he descended into the trees at the north end of the Midwood. A few moments later I heard the chirping call of a young hawk from the trees at the top of the ridge that overlooks the woods. They are likely the family from the Ravine Pine tree nest.

At the Nethermead Arches a House Wren (who nests annually in the same street lamp) sang his happy, bubbly song. Not far from the bridge a Great Crested Flycatcher made a loud, clear “wheeep”. In a Linden Tree at the edge of the Nethermead Meadow Steve heard the wheezy, insect-like calls of a gnatcatcher. We eventually located the whole family from the nest in the Black Cherry tree as they foraged for insects in the linden.

As we were getting ready to leave the park Steve offered to show me a Baltimore Oriole nest. The hanging basket nest was constructed in a sycamore tree adjacent to one of the baseball field’s backstop. There was a little league game in progress but the oriole family seemed to ignore all the noise and activity. The adults frequently whistled and chattered as they approached the nest. There were three large hatchlings that virtually attacked the parents when they arrived at the nest with food. Sadly, I noticed one dead hatchling with its head sticking out of an opening in the side of the nest. Steve’s photos from earlier in the day didn’t show it so I assumed that it was a very recent casualty. I’ve only posted Steve’s photo of the nest as it is much better quality than mine...and less sad.

Baltimore Oriole and young

(Photo credit - Steve Nanz)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 6/18/2005
Great Blue Heron (Upper pool.)
Red-tailed Hawk (Midwood.)
Chimney Swift
Great Crested Flycatcher (Heard near Nethermead Arches.)
Eastern Kingbird (Upper pool.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Heard singing at Picnic House, Quaker Ridge & Payne Hill.)
House Wren (Nest in street lamp on Nethermead Arches.)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (4, Linden tree on Nethermead near Nethermead Arches.)
Wood Thrush (Heard singing in Midwood.)
Gray Catbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole (2 adults, 3 hatchlings in nest near baseball fields.)

Other resident species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Pyralis Firefly (Photinus pyralis)

My first firefly of the year. SUMMER IS HERE!
(Photo credit - Rob J)

(Note: Some people have inquired about my use of "spp" in parenthesis after an item's common name. It just means that I don't know the item's species designation, only the genus.)

Fordham photos

The two young hawks have become somewhat adventurous. Here are a couple of shots that Chris just e-mailed me:

Recently fledged Red-tailed Hawks

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Fordham Red-tailed Hawks postscript

Prospect Park Red-tailed Hawks (taken early this year)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

I just received a final report from Chris Lyons regarding the Red-tailed Hawk family at Fordham University in the Bronx:

"Well, Hawkeye and Rose's two (so far unnamed) offspring are now fully fledged members of the NYC Red-Tail population. They left their nest tree either late Tuesday or early Wednesday (I'd suspect the latter), so my prognostication of a Mid-June fledging date was right on the money. This also tends to substantiate my guess that they were roughly a week old when I first spotted them on May 9th. Which means Rose probably laid her eggs about ten days or so after I first saw her sitting regularly in the nest on March 21st. She may not have been spending all those nights in the nest, though. Oh for a cheap, durable, self-installing camouflaged nestcam that can climb trees!

On Wednesday, I only saw one of the young hawks, sitting in an oak that's four trees down from the one the nest is in. The fledgling was calling loudly, and flying from branch to branch, but I saw no sustained flight. On Thursday afternoon, someone reported seeing both fledglings on the ground, just a few hundred yards from the library--he thought they were pretending to stalk prey. The notion that they'd be playing at hunting made sense, but Red-Tails don't do much stalking on terra firma, so I'd guess they were making practice pounces on various inanimate objects, honing their reflexes and coordination.

As I left work on Thursday, I followed the sounds of their calls, and found both of them sitting on top of Martyr's Court (a dormitory, where I've often seen the parents roost), four stories up. Again, I didn't see them fly, but there wasn't much doubt they were well past the jumping from branch to branch phase. One of them didn't so much as perch on top of the building as lie down on the roof-edge, as if still lolling about in the nest.

This morning, coming in to work early (hoping to get some pictures of this play-pouncing), I saw a head sticking up out of the nest. I had to wait a bit, but around 8am, both eyasses got up, stretched their wings, and hopped out of the nest. One of the adults flew overhead, and both called plaintively, hoping for food, but none was immediately forthcoming.

One of them then took a preliminary hop, and flew out over the expansive campus lawn, in the direction of Martyr's Court, where I shortly afterwards saw him perched. A bit awkward compared to the parents, but quite a decent bit of flying overall. The other young hawk was still sitting on a limb nest to the nest when I went in to work. I would assume the primary attraction of returning to the nest, other than the comfort of the familiar, was so that they could snuggle together and stay warm during what had been a rather cool summer night.

It's obviously going to be easier keeping track of these campus fledglings than it was with Jodie and Travis' kids in the dense northwest woods of Van Cortlandt Park last summer.

Neither of the fledglings shows much fear of humans, which is to be expected, given the more trusting nature of young birds in general, and the rather unusual circumstances these particular hawks have grown up in. During the past month, with all kinds of end-of-term events going on, they have had several large tents set up directly under them. Large outdoor cocktail parties with loud music have been conducted at night. I'm told a volleyball net was set up below the tree during graduation weekend, where screaming children played while the chicks either huddled down in the nest, or looked on curiously--wish I'd been there to find out which.

Most people have walked by the tree with little or no awareness of the nest (I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked "What are you looking at?"), but there's been a fair bit of friendly human gawking, and it doesn't seem to have done them a bit of harm. Indeed, it's prepared them for life in the big city, with its unique opportunities and challenges for adult raptors seeking to survive and reproduce.

As a postscript to this now-concluding series of reports, I've been musing about the whole New York City Red-Tail nesting phenomenon in recent months. I don't believe for one minute that it started with Pale Male--he was just the first well-known example of a colonization effort that must have been going on for many years before his birth, and probably had a number of distinct phases.

Long before I'd ever heard of Pale Male, an amateur naturalist named Ray Ramirez told me about a Red-Tail nest he'd seen in High Bridge Park--almost impossible to spot in the dense greenery, except from an elevated vantage point he'd found with some difficulty. He was one of the few people who even knew about it, and those few who knew about such nestings throughout the city probably weren't posting reports and digital photos on the nascent internet, or making reports to NYSARC. I know for a fact that some of the nests I've seen Great Horned Owls use in Van Cortlandt Park over the past decade must have been built by Red-Tails--I didn't see Red-Tails actually using one until last year, when Jodie and Travis picked an area of the park that wasn't inside the golf course, and thus more difficult to access during the warm months. For all I know, Red-Tails had been nesting in Van Cortlandt for the past 20 years. Definitely more than 10 years.

New York City has a lot of suitable parks for nesting hawks--most of them are less suitable for birders, particularly back before the crime rate dropped--and even now, city birders tend to be creatures of habit, sticking to a few well-known locations, where rarities are most likely to be found, and muggers less likely to be encountered.

So the fact that the NYC birding community wasn't aware of these early colonists until Pale Male showed up in what may be the most intensively birded area on the eastern seaboard doesn't mean they weren't there. In all probability, the first settlers were as cautious as any Red-Tail nesting in a wild area, doing their level best to avoid detection, building their nests in places that were difficult to spot (as many still do), and generally keeping as low a profile as possible. However, given the nature of their daily existences, it makes sense that over time they'd lose some of their fear of people, and that each successive generation, seeking unoccupied territories to raise young, would be more willing to consider new possibilities, and tolerate the increased chance of detection by humans.

Pale Male's penchant for pigeons isn't as remarkable as some have thought, either--a fellow Bronx birder told me back in the early 90's that he'd seen Red-Tails ambushing pigeons in the neighborhood. With such a versatile opportunistic predator (I've seen footage of them catching bats in mid-air) the presence of so much meat on the wing could not be ignored--the skills and tactics that were needed in order to exploit this food source were mastered and applied, and passed on to the next generation, ensuring that these Red-Tails would have no trouble feeding their young no matter where they nested. Combined with other abundant urban food sources, such as the gray squirrel, this opened up a huge number of potential breeding territories in the city, as well as a keen rivalry with our urban-nesting Peregrines.

With the collapse of New York's crow population, due to West Nile Encephilitis, the last significant barrier to their breeding success has been removed. Five years ago, Red-Tails could not possibly have nested where Hawkeye and Rose did this past spring. Five years ago, there was a massive pre-roost of American Crows that gathered on the very lawn that the nest tree stands at the edge of. During the winter, hundreds, sometimes thousands of raucously cawing corvids would gather there in late afternoon, before flying over to the Harlem River to roost for the night. If they'd spotted a pair of hawks building a nest in February--well, it's not hard to imagine what would have ensued. Even in the springtime, their numbers were considerable, and their persecution would have been unrelenting.

But I haven't seen a crow so much as caw at any of the hawks since early spring--and that was a Fish Crow, and I haven't seen him in quite a while. I doubt there are any nesting crows on the campus at all now, or in the nearby Bronx Park, and if there are, their numbers are so small as to make a contest of wills with a determined breeding pair of Red-Tails an uneven contest at best.

The only harassment Hawkeye and Rose have had to endure this spring was from Mockingbirds, Starlings, and a trio of falcons--a pair of peregrines and a male kestrel--that materialized on the day Rob came to see the nest. The Peregines skirmished with the adults, the Kestrel briefly buzzed over the heads of the chicks, and I haven't spotted any of them since. Presumably Red-Tails aren't the only raptor species that might play while the crows are away.

The Red-Tailed Hawk didn't colonize the five boroughs of New York City all at once. In my opinion, the invasion came in successive waves, from New Jersey, Westchester, and Long Island. It took them time to learn how to make it here in NYC. But they've got a firm talon grip on the city now. I've had a lot of my co-workers ask me, regarding Hawkeye and Rose, "Will they leave now?" The long answer is that the young will have to leave, and the adults may not use the same nest site next spring. But if I'm in a hurry, I just say "They're not going anywhere. It's their campus now. We just work on it.""

NOTE: The first nesting pair of Brooklyn Red-tailed Hawks that I observed was in Prospect Park during the spring of 1995.

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Fordham Red-tailed Hawk update

I just received the following update from Chris Lyons:

“Coming in to work on Monday, June 13th, I saw one of the two young hawks not only out of the nest, but on a limb below the nest, indicating that he'd flown (or at least jumped) onto it. There was no sign of the other chick, and I wondered if one had moved to another tree, but I later saw both of them, one out on the limb the nest is on (in other words, he'd jumped back up to where he was previously), and the other was sitting up inside the nest.

Presumably the one I saw first is the older sibling, and therefore more advanced--I saw him (or her) make several quick jumps from branch to branch, not really FLYING per se, but using his wings to propel himself, and definitely getting the hang of things. Both of them were calling much more lustily and regularly than I had ever heard them do before, presumably hoping to induce their parents to bring food.

I had occasional glimpses of an adult hawk, but neither parent came to the nest while I was watching. I'd guess that both of the young hawks (chicks no more) will be out of the nest tree completely before the end of the week, at which point finding them will prove more and more difficult.

Hawkeye and Rose's eyasses have a decided advantage over some of their better known urban-dwelling brethren, in that their nest is in an oak tree with plenty of horizontal limbs to climb around on, and use as launching pads for quick hops to develop their flying skills. They don't have to fledge all at once, taking one great leap of faith into the wild blue yonder. With Pale Male's chicks (and now Pale Male Junior's on 35th floor of the Trump Parc Hotel), fledging can be fatal, and you only get one chance, though sympathetic human observers may be able to intervene on occasion. Hawkeye and Rose's offspring don't have such an inspiring view, but they do have the luxury of being able to make mistakes on their first journeys out of the nest. And mistakes are how you learn--assuming you survive them.

So does leaving the branch your nest is on count as fledging, or do you have to leave the tree entirely? Is there a rule book that settles this issue?”

I don't think that there's an official rule book, but you never know. In my personal "rule book" I consider it fledging when they fly out of the nest tree to another tree (or ground, or manmade structure). From that point they no longer return to the nest. Their fledging attempts are ocassionally less than successful and below is an excerpt from my 2002 hawk journal:

"...At one point I stepped back from the group for a different perspective and, from the corner of my eye, spotted the younger bird soaring from its high perch in the oak tree down into the grass directly beside me. The chick made a soft landing and just stood there looking a bit confused.

Stephen Rudley and I immediately placed ourselves between the roadway and the young chick. Despite the fact that it was this bird’s first experience with terra firma it could run surprisingly fast. I was amazed at how long its legs were and how it looked more like an ostrich running than a hawk. As luck would have it Ann Wong, the head biologist from the Prospect Park Alliance, was present. Moments later, Tupper Thomas, the park administrator, arrived. Within 30 minutes a work crew arrived, put up cones to block one lane of the road and began quickly erecting a snow fence along the edge of the curb. As this was happening Stephen and I continued to follow the hawk herding it away from both the roadway and the open, and very busy, Long Meadow. At one point our little friend began bolting down the dirt path while flapping its wings. When it couldn't gain altitude it just hopped up on a low boulder and looked around. The rock was in a very open spot next to the road and Stephen thought that he could gently coax the bird to perch on a large branch that he would then carry back up the hill. No dice. The hawk just sat down on its haunches as if in complete resignation. After a short rest it began running back up the hill towards its starting point."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Looking for a young hawk in Prospect Park

I received the following e-mail from Peter Dorosh on Friday:

"Went to investigate a [Red-tailed Hawk] on the ground in the middle of a huge kids day camp by the Picnic House. [It was at the] field/knob due Northeast (Long Meadow), in the picnic area or oaks knob. Got there, the bird was on a low oak branch. Immature. Appears to be a fledgling--constantly opening its mouth while on the branch. Urban Park Ranger was called in but with bird on low branch couldn't do much. Told her that it appears to be a fledgling, inexperienced or curious about kids. No friends to play with ?"

I took a walk with my wife to see if we could locate him. I assume that its one of the young hawks from the nest in the Ravine pine tree. He's gotten bold and ventured out of the protection of the Ravine woods and across the field. I understand the attraction. That stretch of trees is in the middle of a picnic area and is loaded with human habituated, unwary squirrels.

We didn't locate any young Red-tailed Hawks on our short walk but heard a few Red-eyed Vireo, Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole. A small flock of Cedar Waxwing were hawking for insects in the Pickerel Weed at the back of the Upper Pool. Purple Irises are also in bloom around the pond.

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) behind the Upper Pool

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Purple Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Common Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Sweet Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

White clover (Trifolium repens)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fordham hawk nest update

Chris Lyons took some photos today of the two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks at Fordham University. At their current rate of development the two young hawks could leave the nest by the weekend.

Stretching his wings out

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

It's hot out.

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

"Hey, stop hitting me!"

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)

"All this preening makes me sleepy."

(Photo credit - Christopher Lyons)