Saturday, July 30, 2005

FRIDAY very early morning - Donna reports

Irene, who lives on Central Park South, invited me and two other hawkwatchers [Kelley and Donna] to come for a very VERY early hawkwatch from her building's roof. We hoped to see Junior leave his usual night roost on a nearby building to get an early start on his day's activities. He wasn't on his usual roost when we looked out, but when we headed for the park soon afterwards we saw evidence of his early morning's work. Below is a detailed report on our adventure
from Donna, who started her morning even earlier than the rest of us:

Breakfast served early but eaten Late

Before 5AM, no creatures stirred but the homeless as I
looked in the dark at Central Park, waiting to meet
the others. Yet on the hour, other urban creatures
roused themselves. The House Sparrows nesting in the
streetlight crossbars began to chirp, two minutes
later a single Robin's chuck sounded, and five minutes
after that a lone pigeon on 220 began to preen. The
vanguard for his kind, who within scant minutes more,
would all be up about their morning business of
bathing and eating the oats left by the horse
carriages from the night before.

At 5:15AM we met, Marie, Irene, Kelley, and I, but no
hawks were discovered in the air despite our rooftop
view. So off to where we'd left Little
the night before, near CPW and 61st street, to be
rewarded at 6:15 by hearing him beg.

One minute later
Junior flew into view NW of the Greyshot Arch but
after looking around left again. Little truly started
begging in earnest but by 6:30 in the interests of
hygiene had begun preening his spotted pantaloons and
begging at the same time.

At 6:33 Junior appears with a mouse in his beak. He
flies to the London Plane branch where his son is perched
and gives him the mouse. There is a flurry of wings
and talons, then stillness. Little has dropped it.
They both look down. There it is, one fresh breakfast
mousie in the middle of the sidewalk. Little's begging
becomes almost a yodel. A pair of Westies walk
towards the mouse, their mistress distracted we
watch, but the dog's leashes don't quite allow them to
reach it. By now, Little has developed a beg with far
more syllables per breath then ever before.

There's a pause. Junior down to the sidwalk. He
looks around, retrieves the mouse, flies to the bridge
with it, and returns it to Little in his tree for
another try. Even more of a frenzy of wings and
talons, but once again Little drops it. Down it goes
right in the path of an oncoming pedestrian who,
completely oblivious, steps upon it and keeps on
walking. Junior flies away east.

At 6:45 Little flies down to the border of shrubs near
the stone wall, he pounces, wings spread, on a good
sized rock. Lifts it with both taloned feet, and
bops it on the ground. Bam, bam, bam. It is now a
very dead rock.

Junior brings another mouse and flies to the lawn.
Little takes off running faster than a speeding chicken,
which he rather looks like until talons flashing, he
grabs the mouse in his beak and flip, it flies out of
his beak and into a small patch of five inch grass.
It is the only strands not cut to uniform height in the
entire place. He can't find his breakfast and begs.

Junior either not having found it either or perhaps
seeing it as a training exercise for Little in finding
food for himself, goes to sit on a nearby lamp post.
Little flies to the same post, Junior is off, Little
is on. He waits. Nothing.

At 6:50 Little is off the lamp, back to the bushes,
pouncing, hopping, and Ta DA, he's killed some bark,
which he holds in his beak.

Then Little runs after a squirrel that comes right
back after him. She jumps at him, he jumps back
wards, then forward, the squirrel is up the tree a few
feet and then back down to dive at Little, two other
squirrels appear battle ready. Needless to say Little
does not have squirrel for breakfast but does do some

Junior sits in his London Plane and watches. Then to
a small tree behind our bench, Little follows. Then
Little to the wall of the arch, where a female jogger
is rather surprised to see him a foot from her nose.

By 7:21 after a number of perches, Little is back to
the shrubs and bushes. A few minutes later he is up
on the stone wall of the park, facing out, scratching
his head, and watching a bus parked a scant few feet
away loading passengers.

At 7:32 Junior retrieves the mouse from the grass, and
flies with it to the tree behind our bench, Little
begs. Then Little flies after Junior but lands at bit
clumsily below him, begging. Junior looks down. He is
not moved. Little must come to him. Little hops and
walks up some ramp-like branches and finally at 7:33
AM, exactly an hour from when Junior originally
appeared with a mouse, Little finally gets his
breakfast, manages to keep it, and gobbles it down
whole. Junior flies a scant bit south to a London
Plane and perches.

At 7:40AM on our way out, we looked up, and there was
Junior, his beak tucked in for a moment's doze.

A well deserved rest I think, because as everyone
knows, feeding toddlers is never easy.

-- Reported by Donna Browne--