Saturday, June 02, 2007

Who feeds the chicks, Mom or Dad?

Cathedral Mom & Dad on Gabriel's trumpet My 31, 2007
Photo by Bruce Yolton
Donna Browne [] sent the interesting note below enlarging on my comment [a few days ago] that among redtails only the Mom feeds the chicks. I was talking specifically about when they have to be fed beak to beak. I assume Donna's talking about that too.

In regards to male Red-tails feeding, I'd say you're correct 99% of the time, but this year in particular, Tristan of the Cathedral Hawks has done at least the evening feeding all days that I've watched.

On one day in particular, see "Tag Team Feeding", perhaps due to the three fledglings needs, Isolde fed, then after she left the nest, Tristan arrived in under two minutes and also fed.

Isolde appears to do hunting for the fledglings as well. For instance while Tristan is stalking rats not far from the nest and therefore available for guard duty if necessary, Isolde will take off for Morningside Park and return with a pigeon. She must scope the prey out before hand because she usually isn't gone long at all before returning with dinner.

Charlotte of the Southern Hawks, would occassionally hunt for herself during this phase if she didn't approve of Junior's dinner offering but I never saw her hunt for the eyasses. In that family, food for the kids came from Junior. And it's my understanding, though you'd know better than I, that Pale Male was the prime hunter for his mate and eyasses.

The Cathedral Hawks, though I did see Tristan feed once or twice last year, are doing things quite differently this season in that Tristan feeds daily. It's another example of the nifty adaptibility of the species. (Isolde did look utterly exhausted there for awhile and was too tired to even preen. Tristan took her a pigeon to feed the young one evening, laying it beside her. She just looked at him from her spot on the hospital chimney, bags under her eyes, feathers completely rumpled. Tristan dutifully picked the pigeon back up, flew to the nest, and fed the brood.) When I began to notice Tristan's frequent feeding I started looking into how prevalent it might be and asked Jeff Kollbrunner of the Queen's Hawk Cam about his pair. The answer: Male feeding is very infrequent with that pair as well.

Not unlike humans at their best, each Red-tail pair seems to adapt and create a system that works for them. I like that a lot.


PS from Marie:
In regard to Donna's posting on her blog inm which John Blakeman suggested that the identity of Central Park's rabbits is not what we think it is:

John Blakeman's statement to the contrary notwithstanding, my understanding is that the species of rabbit in Central Park IS Eastern Cottontail. It is listed in the 1984 Central Park Wildlife Inventory[John Hecklaw], though that list has proved to be wrong about quite a number of listings. Might be worth checking with the American Museum of Natural History...

I don't really know what the European Hare looks like, but a few years ago I saw a rabbit with a distinctly white cottontail in the Shakespeare Garden. That rabbit lived in the garden for several years...and it was the bane of the zone gardener's existence since it regularly dined on a number of her favorite plantings. I happen to know that that particular rabbit is dead now, and don't know if there are others in CP.

Note: It may be that cottontails can survive in the Shakespeare Garden because dogs are strictly forbidden there.