Saturday, March 22, 2008


Just received from John Blakeman:
A photo taken yesterday and posted today [March 22, 2008] at shows, remarkably, that the female at PS 188 is banded.
Every telephotic effort should be made to read the band number. If the band number can be discerned -- very possible with a good spotting scope (if the bird stands long anywhere enough to get a view) -- this would be the very first and very important answer to where do the NYC breeding Red-tails come from. Are all of these birds a closely-related clan, originating from the wild rural population that produced Pale Male. Or, have Red-tails drifted into NYC from all over the Eastern Seaboard or New England?
Did this bird get banded within 50 miles of New York City, or somewhere else much further to the North, West, or South? If the bird originated close-in, this would lend support to the romantic notion that the NYC urban Red-tails share genes and urban behaviors, that they are like some of the many human groups who have come to NYC and thrived there in family and ethno-cultural groupings. Or, did modern Red-tails, also like so many humans, come in from any number of distant origins? All we need is the number on this hawk's band!
Although Red-tails are the most common large hawk in North America, only a moderate few get banded. The vast majority of bandings occur at migration point banding stations, often on mountain ridges in the Northeast, or at waterbody crossing points, such as Cape May, New Jersey. Ideally, this would have been one of he moderate few Red-tails banded at a nest, where we could then know its exact origin. More likely, it was banded at a migration banding station, which will make determining its natal origins just a bit more problematic. Either way, learning where and when this majestic bird was banded will be very informative.
And viewers should please note that the banding of eyasses or migrants causes absolutely no harm or discomfort. It's no different than the wearing of a ring. This banded bird is dutifully attending to breeding behaviors, unencumbered by the band. She doesn't even know she has this imposed mark of origin.
Again, I'm hoping that someone will be able in the next few weeks to read off the band number. Actually, it may be best be read right from the screened window next to the nest. This, perhaps, should be a project for some science students at the school.
I'm excited at the prospect of knowing with some certainty the origin of this bird. It will help us discern where the other NYC Red-tails came from.
--John Blakeman

PS from Marie -- This is today's 2nd posting. Also today, info about Pale Male and Lola's nest,