Thursday, March 24, 2005



3/24/05--Bob Brooks sends the following report:

Hi Marie,
I saw at least 5 phoebes today. 3 up near the feeders ( in that patch of woods directly east), 1 in the oven and 1 near the lake. Since I only saw the 3 at one time I can only assume that the other 2 were different birds. I was wandering around at 8 AM.

Bob Brooks

Bob Levy sent the following report to ebirdsnyc. It was followed by another note from Carla Davis, adding that there have been many sightings of Osprey at nesting sites in the East End of Long Island this week, along with one of an Eastern Phoebe.

DATE: Thursday, 24 March 2005
LOCATION: Central Park

In the late afternoon I thought I saw a gull approaching Turtle Pond but quickly realized I
was watching a rare visitor to this pond. It was an Osprey. It flew low over the water for a
few minutes and then took off toward the Lake. I was going in that direction anyway and
hoped I might get another look at the Osprey later. I got two. The first was when it
conveniently perched for more than fifteen minutes about three-quarters up a tree close
to the shore of the Lake near Bank Rock Bridge. Later, after it had gone south, I saw it
again flying back north over the middle of the Lake toward Bank Rock Bridge once again.


3/24/05--Pale Male perching on rooftop antenna on 72 St. and Fifth, just prior to roosting for the night

photo by Viv Ramos

3/24/05 --- photo taken on same day Viv saw an Eastern Phoebe at the Castle. Jack Meyer, separately, also saw a Phoebe today.

Caloo Callay!


This subject certainly stimulated a lot of thought and comment! I've collected a bunch of ideas from various people here. John Blakeman has said he'd answer as soon as he can. I'm printing the first letter in its entirety, not just the theory about sexual dimorphism, since it made me feel so great.

Dear Marie,

It is such a complete pleasure every evening to visit your site. I'm certain that there must be thousands of us who are absolutely addicted to the wealth of information found there and, I've had hawkists here in Virginia tell me that they have read dozens of books about raptors and yet have learned really cool things on your site that apparently are unavailable elsewhere! You and John Blakeman write so clearly and compellingly. And Lincoln's photographs are nothing short of superb - he's a natural with light and composition. So, since I'm a loyal admirer, I thought I might toss out another theory so that John can take aim?

Isn't size a determining factor in the ability of creatures to maintain consistent body temperature? And wouldn't the larger size of the Red-tail hen be a benefit considering (if I understand correctly) that the female assumes markedly greater duties of incubation initially and then later provides warmth and cover for longer periods of time for newly hatched eyasses during early Spring's fluctuating temperatures and weather conditions?
Even with his smaller size the tiercel is clearly up to the task of providing food for his family. Perhaps there's an advantage in needing slightly less for himself and his neater size may give him an edge and make him a more agile and efficient hunter?

It's a generalization, but in nature the small variations which provide specialized advantages seem to make all the difference in ultimate survival and success in passing on genes... 'just a thought...

In an often stressful world, thanks much for reminding us of the intricate and exquisite all around us,

Anne Olgeirsson

Here's another:

Hi John,

Another thought, as Red-tails breed all the way down
to Central America, plus the West Indies, might there
not be an advantage for the bigger hen on the nest
with that geographical set of predators? Species in
which some members at least, are a more even match for
the hawks than Raccoons or Great Horned Owls and
therefore the hen's extra grams could be the deciding
factor. Nest robbing snakes or lizards might be a
possibility as Red-tails have been known to eat, so
are capable of killing, some species in their southern
geographical range.

Donna Browne

And another:

Dear Marie,

As to John Blakeman’s unresolved question of why females are larger, I’ve been told that one of the theories is because this gives them a larger brooding patch for their nesting duties. As the female is the one who mostly incubates and continues to keep the babies warm after they’ve hatched, the theory goes that she does better being the larger of the pair. Who knows?! But maybe.

watching faithfully from Cambridge, MA