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.

A blog to check out

Baby raccoons photographed on Thursday 5/31/07 at the Pool by Bruce Yolton.

Bruce has more raccoon pix, and more photos and news from the Cathedral of St. John's nest, where the redtail babies are getting big. He has also taken exciting photos of the Riverside Church peregrines. What an amazing resource he is for all of us. Check out his blog:

PS Thanks Bruce.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nest watch and hawk catch-up

Five baby robins on May 28, 2007
photo courtesy of
Who's nesting in Central Park right now? Among the nests located by sharp-eyed birders:

1. a Wood Thrush nest in the Ramble. (The singing at dusk is breathtaking)

2. a Red-bellied Woodpecker nest-- (Hurray, that means that at least one pair successfully kept the starlings at bay.)

Hundreds of American Robin nests almost everywhere [if not hundreds, then at least many more per acre than you'll find noted in the scientific literature.]

I'm sure there are many more species nesting--but these are the ones I've seen for myself. (Thanks to Jack Meyer and Lloyd Spitalnik, who steered me in the right direction.)

PS Pale Male & Lola catch-up:
As most of you know, Pale Male and Lola finally abandoned the nest at 927 Fifth Ave over a week ago,. Incubation began on March 10th. The eggs should have hatched around April 15th. The faithful pair sat a month and a week after that, a total incubation time of 85 or so days. Boy do they deserve a nice vacation right now!

Saw both of the pair at the Beresford perch at 7a.m. Tuesday morning and saw PM flying towards the west side of the Great Lawn around sunset yesterday. They seem to be resuming their pre-nesting routines.

PPS Saw Manhattanhenge last night, looking westward at 81st St. and Central Park West. Hope at least some of you saw the beautiful sight.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lost my bet. THREE Divine chicks

When do I collect? read my e-mail this morning from Bruce Yolton. I'd bet him there were only two nestlings in the St. John the Divine nest, as there were last year.

BUT THIS MORNING HE SENT THE PHOTO BELOW! I owe him a glass of wine.

John Blakeman says Astoria Park redtail's a beginner

The Astoria Park mom delivering meal to chicks - photo by BRUCE YOLTON
other great shots at

For what it's worth, over on Bruce Yolton's site I just noted the yellow eyes of the adult red-tail feeding the eyasses there.

This indicates that the bird is a first-year adult. This is almost surely its first nesting attempt (unless, like Pale Male originally did, it tried to breed in immature plumage last year).

Immature red-tails, in their first year of life, have yellow eyes and brown tails. In their second years, they have red tails and yet-yellow eyes, as with this bird. In the third year, the eyes turn mostly brown, but with a remaining hint of yellow or light brown. In fourth and subsequent years, the eyes are uniformly dark brown.
Red-tail eye color clearly reveals exact age up to and including the third year, although those inexperienced with the species may miss the hint of yellow or light brown in the third year.

The Astoria Park red-tail is obviously new to this urban nesting endeavor---and quite successful, too.

John Blakeman

Note from Marie:
In labeling the photo at the top I assumed it's the Mom, since only the females feed or supervise feedings. Males merely provide the food. Hope I'm right about this. I'm sure I'll hear from John Blakeman if I'm mistaken

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Welcome to my Slog and Hawg

Big Baby at St. John the Divine nest-- note the pristine pantaloons
Photo courtesy of Http://
Rob Jett, whose site is always worth visiting, writes:

As you know, blog is short for "web log". Like everything Internet-related, over the years the standard blog has evolved into several different categories of personal journaling. For example:
Blawgs - A blog that focuses on the legal profession
Linklog - A blog made up of links
Moblog - A blog created by mobile phone or PDA
Photoblog - One that is primarily photos
Sketchblog - A sketch portfolio blog
Slog (Site or website log) - A blog that is integrated within a regular website's structure and created with blogging software
Splog - A spamming website disguised as a legitimate blog
Tumblelogs (new to me) - Has short posts and includes mixed media
Vlog - A blog comprised of videos

And now, New York City, the capital of innovation, has spawned a new classification of personal blog - the "Hawg", or Hawk log.
Let's see how long it takes before the term shows up in Wikipedia.
Happy hawging,