Saturday, April 30, 2005

Green Herons building nest again at Upper Lobe

In Red-tails in Love I wrote about a Green Heron nest that brought solace to the heartbroken hawkwatchers when the hawk nest failed for the second year in a row. That was in 1994. We watched that nest obsessively, perhaps with particular fervor because of our disappointment at the hawk nest.

The herons had five chicks that year, and have continued to nest successfully in the same place almost every year thereafter. They nest in a place birdwatchers call the Upper Lobe. It is the northernmost part of the Lake [usually called the Rowboat Lake, though Vaux and Olmsted went for simplicity in nomenclature and simply called it The Lake]. If you stand on the little bridge called Bank Rock Bridge, just east the West Drive at around 79th Street, and if you face east, the Upper Lobe is at your left. Just beyond it is Shakespeare Garden and then the Great Lawn.

Well, it's eleven years later, and a pair of Green Herons are building their nest at the Upper Lobe again. They arrived last week from their southern wintering grounds, and began nestbuilding almost immediately. The process is fascinating to watch, and in the course of watching home construction you'll probably see an eerie courtship ritual followed by a graceful consummation. Since the mood is sad at the Hawk Bench these days, I recommend a stop at the Upper Lobe each day for an instant lift of the spirits.

Just below are some photos of the birds getting to know each other and building their nest. They were taken yesterday [4/29] by a website reader named Nabil whose earlier photos of a hermit thrush and a ruby-crowned kinglet you may have seen on this site a few weeks ago.

Friday, April 29, 2005

From Today's New York Times

Photo by Don Hogan Charles
Pale Male arriving at the nest 4/28/05
[The photographer, whose name is well known to daily readers of the Times, spent the last three days at the Hawk Bench, chatting with the hawkwatchers]

This was the story in today's N.Y. Times as it appeared on Page B3 of the Metro section. They got it almost right but not quite. By omitting the fact that the nest was taken down after the nesting season in 1993 they made it appear that the hawks require TWO additional years in order to get a substantial enough nest to succeed. But when the nest was allowed to remain in 1994, when the hawks added ONE new season's building materials [twigs etc] in 1995, three chicks hatched that April.

April 29, 2005

5th Ave. Address, but No Youngsters in Nest


In a bittersweet denouement, the eggs won't hatch.

So ends this year's reproductive cycle for New York City's most celebrated birds, the Fifth Avenue red-tailed hawks known as Pale Male and Lola. Since their nest was destroyed in December, the hawks rebuilt in February and laid eggs in March.

But April has earned its reputation for cruelty.

E. J. McAdams, the director of New York City Audubon, confirmed the inevitable yesterday in a press release, offering closure to dozens of anxious bird lovers who have gathered daily in Central Park, waiting for the heads of baby chicks to appear over the side of the nest on the 12th-floor facade of an opulent co-op building.

Because the incubation period for red-tailed hawks rarely exceeds 35 days, Mr. McAdams said, "it is improbable a chick will hatch."

Having determined by Lola's behavior that she laid at least one egg on March 9, Audubon officials said that 50 days had passed without a hatching, beyond the limit of hope.

"All their supporters are sad today," Mr. McAdams said.

"But the Pale Male and Lola story is a story of resilience, and we look forward to a successful nest next year."

Since Pale Male took up residence in 1993 at 927 Fifth Avenue, on the southeast corner of 74th Street, he has sired more than 20 chicks with a series of mates, according to naturalists' records.

The hawks' perseverance in a dense urban environment has delighted bird lovers around the world, and it prompted a groundswell of protest when the nest was destroyed by the co-op on Dec. 7.

The public outpouring persuaded co-op shareholders to provide a metal platform on Pale Male's cornice to support a new nest. He and Lola took to the platform eagerly, rebuilding with sticks and tree limbs from Central Park.

Still, their failure to bear offspring this year may have been caused in part by the newness and size of the nest. Observers say that it is smaller than the one that was destroyed, which had grown over the years to a width of more than eight feet, and that by next year it should be a better size for hatching chicks.

Nor is this the first year that hawk eggs have failed to hatch. Marie Winn, the author of "Red-Tails in Love," an account of the hawks' life in Manhattan, said that eggs failed to hatch in 1993 and 1994, but that three chicks were hatched the next year.

Mr. McAdams said yesterday that Pale Male and Lola seemed certain to try again, and that there was little chance they would move to a different home.

"Given what they've already been through, I just don't think they will ever leave," he said.

Yesterday's Story about Pale Male & Lola

New York's Pale Male and Lola shunned by stork
28 Apr 2005 20:01:40 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Walker Simon
NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) -

The stork has apparently shunned New York's highest-flying celebrity couple -- red-tail hawks Pale Male and Lola -- who are chickless this season in their newly restored perch above Fifth Avenue. The closely-watched birds, who were evicted and then lured back to their home overlooking Central Park in December after a storm of protest, have failed to have hatchlings after a 50-day wait, far past the average incubation period for the breed, the Audubon Society said on Thursday.

"We're sad and a lot of people are going to be disappointed," said E.J. McAdams, Executive Director of the Audubon Society said. Bird-watchers have been atwitter and expectant since Lola starting sitting on her nest, a behavior indicative of incubating eggs, on March 9.

Their mating was front-page news, celebrated as a return to normality after their home life was disrupted by the abrupt removal of their aerie last year. The average incubation period for a red-tail hawk is 28 to 35 days. By now, nearly two months after the eggs were laid, it is improbable that any eggs will hatch.

"It definitely looks like a sad situation because the hatching is 11 days overdue, it was supposed to be on April 16," said Lincoln Karim, who has watched Pale Male's nest for five years and documents the hawk's life on But he has not given up hope.

"This hawk has broken every rule," he said. "No other red-tail hawk in this country has built a nest on a building (like Pale Male)." The definitive sign that eggs will not hatch would be when Pale Male and his mate spend at least a day away from the nest, showing they concluded their latest egg-laying and would not produce offspring, he said.

Pale Male and four mates have hatched 23 chicks over a dozen years from their outpost atop the ritzy building, home to celebrities such as Paula Zahn and Mary Tyler Moore. Pale Male's decision to build his penthouse nest 12 stories above Central Park in 1993 made him a local spectacle and the subject of a book and documentary film.

Last Dec. 7, the nest was abruptly removed from its perch after complaints from building residents about falling debris, including gnarled remains of pigeons. The eviction pitted bird-lovers, including Moore, against other residents, including Zahn in a dispute that brought noisy protests from naturalists and intense media attention. The Audubon Society, which said it received messages of concern from as far away as Europe, Jordan and Australia, stepped in and brokered a pre-Christmas deal to restore the roost and satisfy safety concerns.

Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content,

Thursday, April 28, 2005

About the Screech Owls

Photo by Lincoln Karim

Two e-mails came this morning. One was from from Chris, a member of the North Woods owl-prowlers who comes accompanied by a well-behaved border collie named Fig. She sent a report. One from Cathy, with a poem:

Hi Marie--

I thought the rainstorm would interrupt but I caught the fly-out last night. All five were out by 7:56, hanging around in the trees above the waterfall for about fifteen minutes. There was much launching of poop and pellets, lots of dancing, some whinnying. They were in the pine tree again this morning and I was able to collect several pellet samples which I can contribute to the examination. There is clear bone matter in some of the pellets and I wish we could ask who it belongs to. (Are the parents still feeding the young?)

The bobbing dance, by the way, according to another guide, is a way the owls improve their three-dimensional visual concept of what they're looking at. So when they do this while facing us, they're trying to have a better look!

[PS from Marie: re examination: We're planning to analyze the pellets ands try to identify what mammal bones we csn find there.

Thought I'd pass this poem along in case you haven't yet seen it. It takes my breath away, much as the fly out did that I enjoyed with you and others a couple of weeks ago. Best,

Cathy Unsino

Screech Owl

All night each reedy whinny
from a bird no bigger than a heart
flies out of a tall black pine
and, in a breath, is taken away
by the stars. Yet, with small hope
from the center of darkness
it calls out again and again.

Ted Kooser

Poet Laureate of the United States
in Delights and Shadows

Kestrelcam Update


A quick announcement...the KestrelCam website is back in operation. We installed the pigeon spikes on the top of the box (with no loss of blood!), put more shavings in the box, and set everything back up. Now, we'll just hope that Lilly can beat the odds and find another mate (or another pair decides to use the nestbox). It's a long shot, but we'll give them every opportunity we can. Anyway, thought you'd like to know...

The website is the same as before,

Stephen H. Watson

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blakeman answers some important questions about the nest failure; Holds out hope for next year

Here are some questions many have been asking about the fate of this year's nest, and John Blakeman's answers. His discussion of the specifics of the anti-pigeon prongs and their role in the failure strengthens my conviction that the 1993 and 1994 nest failures came about for the same reason. Building a new nest directly on the spikes, as the hawks did in those years, and in 2005 doesn't work. Only when a second layer is added will incubation take place successfully.

Could it be that the two inch gap between the arch and the metal nest structure caused the incubation to fail?

This is not an issue, I'm certain. The majority of wild (rural, non-urban) red-tail nests in the Midwest and East are in trees with supporting limbs that provide no relief from wind. The gap here is not a concern. Red-tails are capable of creating a reasonably "air-tight" bowel in the nest, whether there is a solid, flat support beneath, or (commonly) just a few crossed branches or a 3-way, V-shaped crotch. The failure of the nest was not caused by air shooting under the gap. Air shoots under wild tree nests, with no problems.

2. What then might have caused the nest failure?

I really think that the problem was caused by the shallowness of the new nest the birds constructed. This allowed the prongs to eventually protrude up through the nest floor. They may have finally pierced the eggs, or caused the parents try to push the metallic objects aside, as they would a displaced stick. The intrusion of the prongs into the nest bowl and rubbing against the eggs would be destructive, either by directly breaking the eggs, or by disrupting normal incubation behaviors, including the digging motions so often seen.

The metal prongs are probably not large enough to be able conduct away enough heat to cool the eggs or nest bowl. But as the nest normally settles during incubation, the eggs sink lower. Note how often observers stated that the incubating parent settled so low into the nest that it essentially disappeared. No one should presume that the bottom of the nest, the surface upon which the eggs rested, was near the height of the observable, protruding sticks on the rim.

When Lola was sitting in earnest, with her naked abdominal brood patches pressed directly against the eggs, her back is about 3.5 to 4 inches above the eggs. So, if her back can't be seen above the nest rim, one can subtract 3 or 4 inches to determine the tops of the eggs. The eggs themselves are almost 2 inches in diameter. Therefore, the vertical width of the hawk's body is, say, 3.5 inches, and eggs are 2 inches, making the bottom of the nest perhaps 5.5 inches beneath the bird's back while sitting. Look at any of the photos of the nest and find the 5-inch depth. This is very, very close to the tops of the prongs. When the eggs begin to thin (for eventual pipping and emergence) in the last week of incubation, a slight jostling against an intruding prong will puncture an egg.

It appeared to me that the majority of the twigs used to construct the nest came from live trees. Even in winter woody plants retain a great deal of moisture. No one tries to build a campfire or fireplace fire with branches from a living tree. They are inherently wet, and must be allowed to dry. As the new sticks in the nest dried out, they markedly shrank in size, especially in diameter. Ask any carpenter about wood shrinkage as it dries. It's significant. The drying of the nest's twigs from January to April could have depressed the nest bowl a half inch or more, bringing the eggs onto the pointed surfaces of the underlying prongs.

In short, the new nest was just that, very new and unsettled. Rural red-tails never have to contend with metal spikes protruding up through the nest's base, so nest settling caused by twig drying and repeated landings of the adults are not a factor. Here, natural settling was probably the initial event that caused the prongs to disrupt incubation or pierce the eggs.

Next year, the birds will be compelled by instinctive, hormone and photo-period driven behaviors to go through virtually the same actions again. More sticks and twigs will be brought to the nest and piled upon the remnants of this year's nest. This, it is hoped, will elevate the bottom of the nest depression sufficiently above the spikes to allow normal nesting. The present sticks will wet and dry in rain cycles, and further settle as the year wears on. The birds will then pile on more sticks nest winter. And because the new sticks won't have any protruding spikes to hold them in place, next year's nest may be initially much less stable. That will be very good, as the early fragility of the new nest layer will prompt the birds to add more and more sticks until it feels firm to them. That feeling of firmness, a probable clue that nest size was sufficient, was artificially contrived by the presence of the naked pigeon spikes this year.

The birds stopped thickening the nest too early this year, when it felt nice and firm. Next year, the new sticks will sit by themselves above the prongs, free to move about in a quite natural manner, a situation the birds know about and can deal with.

Is renesting possible for this season?

No, not by any means. The various required nesting behaviors are both requisitely sequential and photo-period driven. The endocrinology that first drives copulation, then ovulation, and lastly incubation has passed for the year. The birds are likely to perch around the nest site for some time, but this is merely a response to territorial habits. There will be no new eggs or incubation this year. The season has passed.
But the pair, should it survive, will return next year and add another layer of sticks, one that is thick enough to hold the eggs above the spikes, we all hope.

Red-tails frequently have nest failures, so this year's disappointment does not reduce the pair's chance of starting it all over again next season. The birds might even leave the immediate area, to reappear in December or January (although that's unlikely for this pair in this environment). The worst scenario would be the loss of Pale Male. He's now well into his second decade, an aging patriarch. Whether or not a new male, competent in the unique skills required for successful reproduction at this curious site, would appear is a major question, one that I have no answer to.

I hope this brings some understanding of what we have all watched. We are all pioneers here, Pale Male and his consorts in attempting to so completely occupy Central Park, followed by all of us attempting to do what we could to continue the unique experience.

Reports from the Hawk Bench continue

4/27/05 -- While time is running out [this season] for Pale Male and Lola and the hope of chicks in the nest, the loyal hawkwatchers continue their vigil at the Hawk Bench: Lincoln and Stella and Katherine and Lee and Noreen, Jim and Margaret, and Ric, and Elizabeth, Bill, and John L. and many others whose names will pop into my head as soon as I close the computer.. Frederic Lilien continues to film the daily comings and goings of the hawks and hawkwatchers for the sequel to his documentary Pale Male. For the last three days a noted photographer from the NY Times, Don Hogan Charles has been spending many hours at the hawk bench, photographing the hawks as they come and go. And Donna Brown continues to take detailed notes on events at the nest. Here are her reports for the last three days:

Field Notes 4-26-05

Sunset 7:48,
Temp. 66F,
Wind to 20MPH,
Mostly Cloudy,
Prey Tally-pigeon,

All times PM unless otherwise noted.

New twig with leaves on front of nest since yesterday.
According to report much work on Pale Male's part to
place a new large V twig in AM.
3:29 Pale Male on nest. Napping?
3:40 Lola to nest from N.
3:41 Pale Male up from nest, circles over bench.
3:42 Lola digs, down, stands, digs, fluffs back and
forth then down.
3:57 Lola stands, preens chest, errant feather on back
is flapping again.
4:02 Preens back and chest.
4:04 Preens wings.
4:06 Lola down in nest.
4:17 Lola invisible.
4:19 Lola preens, standing.
4:24 Head to concave.
4:26 Sun on nest, Lola mantles, it fades, extends
4:31 Lola stands, then down. Pale Male from N to Linda
3, stands back to bench, looking over shoulder to SW.
4:34 Pale Male walks one foot in front of other over
railing to N, finishes walk, faces bench,wiggles tail,
scratches head, yawns.
4:35 Preens shoulder.
4:36 Woman to window, they startle each other, Pale
Male facing window, feathers erect, wings slightly
held from body, aggression stance. Woman slowly,
carefully, (So as not to disturb him ?) pulls down
dark transparent shade, reducing his view of interior,
Pale Male relaxes, walks to S on railing.
4:39 Pale Male looks toward Lola, beak movement.
4:40 Lola looks toward N then W.
4:54 Pale Male to air, flushes pigeons, circles model
boat pond, then circles S of pond, heads NW.

Nina's report:
4:57 Lola, head poking out of nest, visible to neck,
middle of nest, staring straight ahead. [W]
4:59 Looking around, still in middle of nest, alert.
5:00 Very windy, head facing N and W, head moving.
5:02 Alert, as if looking for something, head down
5:03 Looking at something? Looking slightly upward.
5:04 Eye not visible among twigs.
5:05 Pale Male lands in nest from N, Lola standing and
5:06 Pale Male looking W.
5:07 Lola on N side of nest, Pale Male on S end.
Nina's report ends.

Gary Shandling at the Bench.
E.J. McAdams, NYC Audubon, visits Pale Male and Lola.
Vanity Fair photo shoot progresses.
5:11 Pale Male down, faces W, head center.
5:13 Head above nest, alert W.
5:15 Pale Male eyes N.
5:31 Pale Male deep, center.
5:41 Lola flies from N, behind Linda, then over roof.
5:43 Lola flies from behind 927, then by Woody,
circles past Linda.
5:45 Lola on nest, Pale Male off and flies over bench
to cheers.
5:47 Lola digs, then settles.
5:49 Lola preens.
5:57 Lola looks N.
6:03 Lola invisible, then alert to S.
6:15 Sun on nest, Lola stands, mantles.
6:27 Lola digs, tail to bench, then settles into
6:28 Lola stands, head to S, digs, then settles down,
head to S, watches.
6:49 Alert to W.
6:52 Alert to W.
6:59 My exit.
Many thanks to Stella for calling in the roost report!
7:39 Pale Male to Pilgrim Hill roost.
Submitted-Donna Browne

Field Notes 4-25-05

Sunset 7:46PM,
Temp. 54F,
Cloudy, some rain,
Wind variable,
Gusts to 20MPH,
Prey Tally-None reported,

All times PM unless otherwise noted.
Earlier: Two nest exchanges, Lola brought back a twig
on one return, Pale Male brought a twig on a third
visit, deposited it and then took off again.
3:45 Lola on nest, heavy wind and rain.
4:15 Rain abates, Lola preens while sitting, head to
S, some peeking through twigs.
4:28 Lola stands, resituates head to bench.
4:35 Pale Male lands on Oreo Antenna.
4:45 Lola alert to W, head center.
4:50 Pale Male to nest with deciduous twig w/leaves.
4:51 Lola off nest towards Ramble.
4:58 Pale Male stands, adjusts twigs.
5:10 Pale Male head to S, only tips of primaries
visible, alert. Yellow-rump Warbler visits the Bench
London Plane.
5:25 Pale Male invisible in nest.
5:32 Pale Male stands, adjusts twigs while turning,
then down, head to S.
5:38 Lola to nest, pause, Pale Male stands.
5:39 Pale Male off nest, soars, glides, circles high,
then dives into treeline S of Pond. Lola digs in
lining, then carefully shuffles her body down into
5:46 Lola alert to WNW, then further down into nest.
Pale Male on Oreo Antenna.
6:08 Pale Male into the air, flies Madison, weaves in
front of 927, circles, ascends, banks to
perpendicular, kites momentarily, swoops, curves in
front and over linda, circles ascending higher, rolls,
circles higher and higher and higher.
6:16 Lola turns, head to N, carefully fluffs feathers
over eggs, adjusts a twig, her feathers blow
backwards, half up, turns and down, head to wall,
feathers still blow, half up, turns, head to S.
6:18 Only Lola's eye visible through twigs.
6:23 Lola's head pops up, very alert to W.
6:40 Lola stares NW.
6:50 Pale Male, Oreo Antenna.
6:52 Pale Male off and W...after gull?
6:53 Circles N of Pond.
7:00 Sunlight on nest.
7:06 Golden light on Fifth.
7:30 Lola alert to W.
7:45 Lola stands, turns, digs, sinks deep while
fluffing feathers over eggs.
7:50 Head up alert, then down and invisible.
Pale Males roost not found.
8:10 Exit.
Submitted-Donna Browne

Field Notes 4-24-05

Sunset 7:46PM,
Full Moon,
Temp. 55F,
Humidity 80%,
Partly Cloudy,sprinkles,
Wind SSW 10-12MPH,
Prey Tally- Blue Bar Pigeon,

All times PM unless otherwise noted.
Early report: Anne saw Pale Male chase intruder RT
from Turtle Pond area. Alice reports that both Pale
Male and Lola were in the nest concave together,
confirmed when other watchers saw them get up.

3:50 Lola sits the nest, watches N.
4:04 Pale Male discovered Oreo antenna.
4:25 Lola alert to SSW.
4:28 Lola stands preens wing, digs, shuffles back
4:41 Ken observes Pale Male eject pellet while on Oreo
4:46 Pale Male up and perches on Crow building
5:00 Sun on nest.
5:09 Pale Male flies into park adjacent to Crow.
5:13 Lola stands, preens chest, beak to concave
tucking under herself.
5:31 Pale Male circles buildings on Fifth, lands N end
of nest with Blue Bar Pigeon, eviserated.
5:32 Lola up w/pigeon to Stove Pipe railing, and eats.
5:39 Lola is still eating, ingestion sequence-muscle,
bone, skin w/feathers.
5:48 Lola is finished. Pale Male watches her.
5:51 Lola flies towards Charles' Butterfly Garden.
6:11 Pale Male top 3/4 of head visible surveys area,
on alert.
6:19 Pale Male's head pops up, actively looking over
entire area.
6:39 Lola returns to nest, N end, pause before Pale
Male rises.
6:41 Pale Male up and off nest flies N up Fifth then W
at Oreo, 2 Crows head S and keep going.
6:43 Pale Male perches Oreo antenna, watches crows go.
6:44 Lola watches Pale Male.
Notes of Interest: The Screech Family is back near The
Pool, and now they all "whinny" while hunting.
There are young raccoons in a tree cavity in The
Submitted: Donna Browne

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Remember the Screech Owls?

You may wonder what's happened to the screech-owl family up in the North Woods. Two days ago a small group of us re-visited their old pine tree day roost and after weeks of absence at that place--there they were ! The kids are looking moie and more like the adults. But the family is still together.

They flew out at a little before 8:00 p.m. and obligingly hung around a little ridge right near their day roost for at least 15 minutes. The kids still made their chittering "feed-me feed-me" sounds. But now they seem to have learned the screech-owl whinny as well. As we stood there we heard the downward musical song coming at us from all directions.

No photograohers there that day. So the picture you see above is ten days old. Maybe I'll entice Lincoln or Cal to take another visit during the next few days. The owl family won't stay together for much longer. Soon they'll be dispersing--the kids to hunt on their own. And the fun of watching five owls frolicking in a small space will be over.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pale Male & Lola -- the silver lining

Our story has taken a turn we should have expected. But we hadn't. We were talking about chicks, and watching them grow. We were anticipating the excitement of the pre-fledge period. Now it's beginning to be clear that we'll have no chicks this year.

Since 1993 and 1994, the other two years that our redtails built brand new nests on top of the anti-pigeon spikes, were the only years that eggs didn't hatch, a pattern emerges. It loooks likely that only when a second year's accumulation of twigs is added to a first year's structure can successful incubation take place.

To spell it out: In 1993 Pale Male and his mate built their very first nest on 927 Fifth Ave. No eggs hatched. At the end of June that year the building took down the nest [but not the spikes].

In 1994 Pale Male and his mate had to rebuild their nest from scratch again. And again the eggs didn't hatch. But this time the Fish & Wildlife Service warned the building that it was illegal to take down the nest . So the nest remained.

In 1995 the hawks added another layer of twigs to an existing nest, Success at last! Three chicks. And so on from then on. 2005, Pale Male and Lola had to build a new nest on the anti-pigeon spikes. Looks like the chicks didn't hatch.


And here's the silver lining: While we're pretty bummed out at the turn of events, here's the silver lining. Pale Male and Lola will now have an unexpected and much-deserved vacation.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Conversation with Charles

Just in case any of you don't also check in to Lincoln's website [a small number, I'm sure] and to show how much this website is indebted to Lincoln and Lincoln's site, I'm reprinting [from his Home Page today] Lincoln's beautiful and alas imaginary conversation with Charles Kennedy who died last October at the age of 66. I too have been thinking a lot about Charles these days. Because of his kindness and intrinsic goodness Charles was very much our spiritual leader. Just thinking about him helps in hard times.

It's times like these that I would be calling 212-666-8906. At this hour he would almost certainly pick up his phone. Then that slow, pleasant, soothing voice would be on the other end making me feel like everything is going to be all right.

Charles left room for every possibility of good and not a vacant spot for hopelessness. Somewhere in the conversation he would be sure to remind me that so many of us are bonded by an animal that weighs just about two pounds only.

I never liked to allow any silent spots in our conversation for fear of prompting an end to the call. But sooner or later it would be an unreasonable hour for talking on the phone and we'd have to hang-up.

"Bye Babe!” he would always end saying. Then I would be left in an empty silence looking anxiously toward the nest call. I'm happy that I cannot distinctly remember our very last conversation on the phone--it softens the blow that I will never hear his voice again. I guess I'm wrong when I tell people that no one knows how many eggs are in the nest. Charles certainly has the fulfillment of knowing.

The uncertainty that is present right now reminds me that the roads I travel will have many more instances of uncertainty that I must cope with. But the slow, timely revelation of knowledge is what gives life its quality and I am prepared to know when it's good and ready to tell me.

Please keep the positive thoughts flowing for our precious friends.

Great Warblers still to be seen in the park

Two very special warblers have been hanging around the park for more than a week -- the Prothonotary, and the Yellow-throated. One look at these photographs by one of the park's best nature photographers makes it crystal clear why birdwatchers wait all year for the spring migration to begin.

Prothonotary Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
both photos by CAL VORNBERGER