Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How to Succeed at the Hawkbench--#3

Left of The Octagon is Rusty Top, named for the rusty raised roof on the upper east section of the building. The slightly lower western section of the roof has railings and exhaust pipes which were used last season for perching.
North of Rusty Top is a building, two rows of three "windows" in the viewed side of the water tower cover, which is so seldom used it has no name.
Next up is a structure named in two sections. The rear area, with what appears to be a rounded doorway with a small hexagonal window above it, is called the Villa, infrequently used for roof perching. The front section is Smokestack, with a variety of exhaust pipes with round vented tops and a railing across the front. The hawks used these last season for perching, food stash, and at least one instance of copulation.
The furthest pale building to the north is Stovepipe, a huge favorite of both hawks. Follow the "steps" down from the roof and you'll see the vertical "stovepipes"that give the building its name. The "steps" also have handy railings, very often used by the hawks for perching during the off season as they offer great views for hunting. And during the breeding season, their many uses include, perching, copulation, eating, scanning for intruders, and cleaning prey. The hawks can often be seen circling above Stovepipe as well.
At the base of one of these railings Pale Male has been known to leave dinner for Lola before switching places with her on the nest. Lola would make a bee line for the food, eat her fill and then return to the nest to take over again. On at least one occasion, Pale Male was seen later in the day, finishing up Lola's leftovers.
Currently there is scaffolding around the upper sections of Stovepipe, offering added high perches during breaks and after work hours, but the presence of human activity has changed the hawks perching habits earlier in the day when compared to last year's habits.
Note-Just to the right of the stovepipes, if you look carefully, is a white satellite dish. Newly appeared it tended to be the most obvious marker on the building for novices at The Bench last season. Therefore some of last year's notes call Stovepipe, Satellite Dish sporadically.
To the right is the Oreo Building. Note the brown masonry with the white vertical stripe. The brown sections being the "cookie portions" and the white being the "frosting" of the Oreo cookie. This structure is very hawk friendly.
Look to the top of it's water tower cover, now to the right side. There is the grated chimney where Lola stands, spending large amounts of time. She warms herself in chill weather, and when the season is right, assumes the crouched, tail raised position that entices Pale Male over for copulation on the chimney.
On the left of the roof of Oreo is an antenna, another favorite perch. This time of year one of the first places one checks upon arriving at The Bench. It's an important sentinel position. If Lola is perched there and decides to leave for lunch, Pale Male will frequently take her place. Copulation also takes place here, and in the afterglow Pale Male and Lola will often sit side by side. One of the few positions they indulge in that humans see as "affectionate". Not that hawks are positively not affectionate, it's just we're not hawks so may not always recognize it when we see it.
(One afternoon, right before Pale Male Jr. left Charlotte and the kids on the nest to go hunting, he touched beaks with her. A hawk kiss? I can't say, but interesting as it's the only instance that we've observed.)
On the next level down of the Oreo, the perimeter of the floor is surrounded by more railings. The hawks makes good use of these as well, depending on weather, season, and sun. The tree that partially obscures the view of front wall is a favorite for clipping twigs to add to the nest.
Just to the left and behind The Oreo is The Shelves. A building for very rare activity.
Next up, the buildings from the nest to the south.

Donna Browne