Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blakeman responds to DEC letter; suggests close-up photos

Nest in March, 2007
photo courtesy of


In regard to Barbara Loucks' assessment of the Fifth Avenue nest you posted day before yesterday, let me say that I've seen a multitude of wild red-tail nests with giant piles of sticks, along with equal numbers of shallow nests. The number of sticks has very little correlation with success. The extent, nature, and density of lining material is the crucial matter, one that presently we have no knowledge of at 927 Fifth Avenue.
Her implication that the reasons for many nest failures simply can't be known, is inaccurate. The breeding biology of raptors in general and red-tails in particular is not a mystery. There are a number of biologists who know what's supposed to happen, and have the right questions to ask when there is a nest failure, as at 927.
Digital close up photos of the nest are urgently needed. What is the lining material? How is it arranged? Can we see any of the pigeon prongs visible?
I can state that if such photos show any portion of the prongs extending observably into the lining material of the nest, they are the direct cause of the failures. Baring proper egg analyses (ever more unlikely again this year), prompt photos of the nest from above will be revelatory.

John A. Blakeman