Saturday, April 15, 2006

Donna's Thursday Report

Pale Male & Lola on nest, April 14, 2006
Photo by Lincoln Karim

The Hawk Bench, Thursday, 13 Apr 2006

At 3:05 PM Pale Male sits on Carlyle 2, and by 3:13 Lola stands on the edge of the nest bowl. She stretches, she preens her wings, she works each individual tail feather. Hawk and human alike bide time, find tiny pastimes. The group waits.
Voices are heard again, "What day did she first spend the night on the nest?"
3:17, Lola's head goes down in the bowl, all the human heads go up. Lola's head wiggles out of sight. She settles carefully back into the nest with the familiar shuffle of feet. The humans held breathe is released.
"So how many days has it taken in years past?"
The day continues as have many other days, Pale Male watches from the Carlyle, he dives, disappears behind Stovepipe. lola stands again at 3:40, turns, preens, then her head disappears momentarily into the concave, she settles, faces south now.
3:42, and Pale Male sits the railing of Stovepipe, then disappears behind it and the Oreo. Lola's head is up. She watches him, alert to the north.
3:55 Pale Male lands the far NW corner of the third level down of Stovepipe.
4:00 Lola is off the nest and over to the 4th level of Stovepipe. Pale Male takes off in a straight shot and lands nest left, looks at us, looks at the eggs, adjusts twigs.
4:02 Lola disappears behind Stovepipe.
4:10 A Red-tail (Lola?) flies from the south field of view to the far north and disappears behind The Oreo.
4:17 Lola lands on the nest and preens her tummy.
4:18 Pale Male off the nest, N over Fifth's buildings, past Stovepipe. Lola preens, shuffles down, her beak prods something beneath her. She disappears into the nest.
The familiar activities proceed. Pale Male appears and disappears. Lola stands, preens, turns, settles back in periodically. Turkey Vultures pass over at 5:43.
5:48 Suddenly voices are raised, "look! There he is." And indeed it is. Pale Male is sitting, prey in talons, on a branch of the tree just behind the north bench of the Anderson statue.
"What does he have?"
"It's fuzzy."
"Some kind of mammal."
Eleanor Tauber gets a photo, zooms it in. YES! It's a squirrel. Pale Male is up in a soaring display from one end of the Model Boat Pond to the other. He circles and zooms past the nest showing Lola his catch. Perhaps after yesterday's rejected pigeon, he now has a meal she'll like. The flight looks downright celebratory. In time he goes in and she goes out for dinner.
Storm clouds gather in the north.
6:14 Lola sits on the Oreo antenna, whets her beak. Pale Male shifts position in the nest.
6:30 Lola is up and circling Oreo. She passes Fisher, lands nest right, waits, preens. Eventually Pale Male stands, then flies north.
6:40 Pale Male circles above The Oreo and Shipshape, where the left end of a rainbow has appeared.
"Isn't a rainbow the symbol of kept promises?"
6:50 Exit.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Here's a great picture of one of my favorite birds: a common grackle
Photo by Lincoln Karim, April 7, 2006

While waiting . . .special birds of the week

Pine Siskin at Feeders 4/10/06

Palm Warbler at Tupelo Meadow - 4/12/06

Purple Finch at the Evodia Field bird feeders - 4/12/06
Three photos by Lloyd Spitalnik

A Tricolored Heron was seen in Central Park on 4/11/06
The bird above was photographed in Florida by Eleanor Tauber in January, 2006

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Donna's Field Notes for Wednesday

Field Notes 12 Apr 2006

Fifth Avenue Nest

Temperature: 64 F.

Wind: 5-10 MPH

Gusts to 18 MPH

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 61%

All times P.M. unless otherwise noted.

Watchers from yesterday reported Lola standing on the edge of the nest bowl and looking down frequently. Behavior that might suggest that young are pipping.

2:10 Lola deep in the nest. Eye through twigs.

2:20 Lola alert, quick looks to N and S.

2:47 Top of head and eye appears above nest edge, she stares W.

3:05 Pale Male arrives on nest left. Lola stands, takes off toward Ramble. Pale Male watches her go.

3:07 Pale Male walks to concave in nest, shuffles feet carefully along inside "walls" of bowl to get into sitting position. Lowers himself carefully with much fluffing of feathers, out of sight in nest.

3:45 Pale Male alert, scoping territory.

3:55 Pale Male stands, shuffles back down, stands alert, walks around bowl.

4:00 Pale Male has disappeared into nest.

4:19 Lola appears from the north, flies by nest, turns back, lands nest right. Full crop. (Lola's break of 1 hour 14 minutes is currently unusual. Her usual break time of late is around 20 minutes. Did she do her own hunting for this meal?) Lola waits, Pale Male does not get up.

4:21 Pale Male stands, looks at Lola, she looks at wall. He goes left, pause. Pale Male takes off, with an unprepared Blue Bar Pigeon in his talons towards the NW. (It appears Pale Male may have brought unprepared prey in for Lola previously, possibly at the last switch, which she has rejected and then gone to the Ramble to hunt her own dinner. She has refused to accept unprepared prey from him previously or possibly she just wasn't in the mood for yet another pigeon and wanted squirrel or rat?)

4:22 Lola settles carefully into the nest.

4:25 Lola stands, turns, goes back down tail to Bench. 2 Canadian Geese arrive at the Model Boat Pond to join the Mallard pair.

4:50 Pale Male lands nest left, very alert. (Crop full, waste not, want not.) Lola deep in nest bowl has turned without standing, very alert eye looking through twigs. Both stare fixedly into the the distance just N of the Boat House.

5:14 Blue Jays begin to scream to the SW. Pale Male vigilant to whole territory.

5:20 Pale Male still in place nest left, watching, very alert. Lola eye through twigs.

5:22 Pale Male is off the nest toward northwest Ramble, flapping, circling with purpose, gaining altitude and speed, he dives, lost to sight in trees.

5:50 Lola deep in nest, staring fixedly toward where Pale Male disappeared in the trees.

6:05 Exit.

With this week's holidays, many children are visiting the Hawk Bench for a first look at Pale Male, Lola, and the nest. The line was long at the scope but full of delighted faces. Eric, a young boy it turns out who doesn't know what a Cardinal looks like, watched the hawks for a good while. He asked me questions about them, we talked a long time, and he just glowed with excitement at the hawks' slightest move. When it was time for him to leave with his Aunt, he said, "This is one of the best days of my life ever." And if that weren't enough, as he walked away, he turned back to us and called, "A hundred thank yous!"

His Guyness, as Charles used to call him, Pale Male, the number one Ambassador of Nature, the avian magician of Central Park, has done it again. Another pair of eyes have been opened with such impact, that they are very unlikely to ever to see in the old way again.

Submitted: Donna Browne

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Steve Quinn's triumph: rare bird and new book.

Photo 1.

Photo 2.

Photo 3.

Photo 4.

Photo 1, above, shows members of Steve Quinn's Tuesday morning Central Park bird class at the Maintenance Meadow yesterday morning [4/11/06]. Everybody's looking at some Palm Warblers except, of course, me. I'm taking the photo. The man with the white cap at the front center is Quinn, who is senior projects manager at the American Museum of Natural History. I've signed up for this walk every spring for many years, mainly because Quinn is a wonderful birder and leader. His skills at birding by ear are legendary, and as you may know, that is my favorite part of birdwatching. He is also an accomplished nature and bird artist.

Photo 2 shows the south-western part of the Lake, seen through the beautiful new leaves of a big willow. This is where Steve Quinn [and consequently his entire bird class] spotted a bird that is extremely rare for Central Park: a Tricolored Heron. Though the species is not uncommon at Jamaica Bay and other nearby seaside locations, there have only been two or three sightings of this bird in the park during the last century. [The bird was clearly seen, but not photographed.]

Photo 3 shows the cover of Steve Quinn's just-published book about the great wildlife habitat dioramas at the Natural History museum. I copied the picture from the website, where the book may be ordered. It is also at Barnes & Noble and many other bookstores.

I just threw in Photo 4. There you see the Early Birders this morning [4/12/06] looking at a Louisiana Waterthrush. They are standing at the Point, one of the best warbler-viewing locations of the Ramble.

Liliana attends last day of feeder-filling

Today marks the end of the feeder-filler squad's duties until next fall. Attending the last meeting was Liliana Speiser, a new member of the Central Park nature community, shown in the photo above. Her father, ace birdwatcher David Speiser , may be seen in the first photo, displaying a little less "cool" than his daughter.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Who gets the worm?

The early Louisiana Waterthrush, that's who.

This splendid picture was taken yesterday [4/9/06] at the Upper Lobe by Lloyd Spitalnik. Check out his website at

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Due dates for both Redtail nests

We're getting close to the expected hatch times for Pale & Lola, and for Charlotte & Junior.

I think the following are reasonable hatch dates for the two redtail pairs, based on the hawkwatchers' observations of when Charlotte and Lola began spending nights on their respective nest. This usually happens a few days before eggs are laid.

Expected Hatch Dates:

Pale Male & Lola -- between April 11 - 15

Junior & Charlotte between April 15 - 19

I know I'm going out on a limb here [so to speak]. But thought you'd want to have a clue.

Coyote and Snipe letters

Christine Karatnytsky writes in response to the coyote report:


I wonder if, along with a car-free Central Park, we can agitate for a poison-free Central Park?

Heartworm is a devastating but treatable illness if caught in time. Rat poison, as you've observed in your years of nature-watching in the Park, is always deadly, often where least intended.


P.S. I saw the snipe, too!

Jack Meyer comments on the changing name of the Wilson's/Common Snipe:

You only gave half the story on the Common-Wilson's Snipe. When I first got interested in birds, in the late 1940s, it was Wilson's (just checked my memory with my 1947 Peterson). Then Common, now back to Wilson's.


PS. Pictured above, a more recent edition.