Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Q & A with John Blakeman about Pale Male and Lola

Another good question from Mai Stewart, and an answer from John Blakeman:

Dear John,

My question today concerns Pale Male and Lola -- there've been a couple reports on Lincoln's website of PM + Lola visiting the 927 Fifth Avenue nest . The first report I noticed indicated Lola had taken a twig with her to the nest, and today's relates that PM spent about 25 minutes on the nest. Do you think there's anything significant going on here? (Or is this just wishful thinking on my part?) Is it a little early for this clearly well-bonded pair to be interested in nesting? I thought that behavior didn't begin until about January.
The report of Pale Male Sr or Lola again at the 927 nest indicates that the pair has not abandoned it. Their appearances, with sticks, and probably some brief episodes of sitting or stick rearrangements at this time of the year are merely incidental. From the red-tail's mind, things are quickly changing right now. They are losing about four minutes of daylight each day. These ever increasing daily changes work dramatically on the hawks' endocrine systems. They are completing their molts, with virtually all the new flight feathers in. For immatures, the decreased day length tends to prompt migration, especially where food is getting harder to find (apparently no so in Central Park, however). So the parent's activities at the 927 nest are incidental to seasonal hormone changes, and show that the pair still regards the nest as theirs. Pale Male and Lola, baring any unforeseen event, will be back at 927 this winter and resume their breeding activities as before.
The Central Park red-tail saga will continue, this next season probably at two venues, at the 927 nest toward the north, and also at Trump Parc at the south end. Will a new pair of young adults also try to nest somewhere in between? Quite possible. The red-tailed hawk population of Central Park has not yet stabilized. The area apparently is not yet saturated, so let's continue to see what develops. The 927 nest activity indicates that things there will resume, thankfully.
Keep me posted.

John A. Blakeman

PS from Marie: These were not isolated visits to the nest. Pale Male and Lola have been bringing twigs to the nest sporadically all spring and summer. To any regular observer at the model-boat pond the nest looks substantially bigger now than it did last April. This does not mean they have begun nest-building. That should start in earnest next February. We think of these visits-with-twigs as re-decorating.