Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pale Male, Lola, and the Shipshape Building

The question has arisen as to why we don't use street numbers when we refer to the Fifth Avenue buildings that the hawks frequent. In fact, few people, even native New Yorkers, know the street numbers of the buildings. A name that provides a visual cue helps people spot the hawks in the moment far more quickly.

Look to the left, the building just north of Woody is the one that I call Shipshape. The square top is the water tower cover, the corners of which were infrequently used as a perch for Lola during copulation last season. The next two levels down are rounded, with railings that follow the curve. The top level is slightly inset above the second level.

Once there are eggs in the nest, on some days Pale Male will bring prey, already prepared, to the nest for Lola's dinner and she will eat it there. (If he doesn't prepare the prey beforehand Lola has been known to STARE at him until he does.) Other days, she will take it to a Shipshape railing to perch while eating it.

There are days as well, when Pale Male will prepare Lola's dinner while perching on one of the railings of Shipshape, then place it below the railing on the floor, take the short flight to the nest, and wait for Lola to take off for the hop over to Shipshape. Then he'll stand over the eggs, readjust a few twigs, dig with his foot, possibly turn the eggs, then fluff his feathers over them as he sits, waiting for her to return. In fact while Lola is eating on Shipshape, Pale Male has been known to use these moments for a quick nap.

Usually Lola will eat rapidly and whip right back to take over the nest again.

At least once last season, Pale Male hadn't even gotten to the sitting-on-the- eggs part of his job, involved with his pre-sitting down ritual, when Lola landed back on the nest, dinner in her talons. She'd decided to eat on site after all. Pale Male was up and gone in a flash.

It isn't that Pale Male appears to dislike sitting on the eggs, it's just that during the nesting period, Lola makes all the on site decisions.

And in the manner of waste conscious couples whatever the species, if Lola has dined at Shipshape and hasn't eaten all of her meal, Pale Male will return to the spot and finish it up for her.

What is that pigeon doing sitting on the scope, you ask? That is the friendly Two Toes. The wily Blue Bar Rock Dove who's figured out who's likely to have their lunch in their pack and has been known to find a way in and help herself.

Donna Browne