Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pale Male nest suggestion and Blakeman's reply

[Photo won't upload this morning]

Shortly after the news came that the NYC Audubon was planning to retrieve the eggs at Pale Male's failed nest , a letter from a website reader arrived in my e-mail box, I forwarded it to John Blakeman, noting that he had commented on this issue several times before. I rather hoped he wouldn't dismiss the suggestion entirely. And indeed, as you will see, he did not.

PS I also forwarded Blakeman's answer to Glenn Phillips, executive director of NYC Audubon. Haven't heard back yet. But I'm hopeful.


While the scaffolding is up to collect the eggs from the once again failed nest of the famous couple, is there any possible chance that the gap between the concrete and the nest cradle can be filled in with animal friendly insulation as outlined on Lincoln Karim’s archived website of structural necessities for their nesting site to promote successful hatching? The spikes were taken out in early 2008 but none of the other outlined issues were ever addressed. Does anyone know why? It would seem that the nest cradle being so many inches off of the concrete gives the nesting pair a false sensed of reality as to how deep their nest bowl really is and they don’t build and insulate it deep enough to keep those cold March/April night/day winds out of the nest even though they both vigilantly incubate. It would be a very long shot to say Pale Male is suddenly “infertile” the seasons after humans destroyed his decade long successful nest; humans need to figure out a way to make this work again.

Please do what you need to do to help them out.

Failure is not an option for 2009!

A dedicated Massachusetts fan…

Sheryl Pew

Westborough MA

Blakeman responded:

Yes, I've commented on this previously, and generally felt that the loss of incubation heat to winds circulating beneath the nest was not likely to be much of a problem. The hawks sit for extensive periods on the nest before eggs are laid, we think to discern that the nest is tight enough to retain incubation heat. If things feel a bit cool on the bottom of the nest bowl, more lining is brought in to tighten things.

The Houston Street pair, as an example, had a rather shallow nest, resting upon open chain link fencing, with full air circulation beneath. They are bringing off a full clutch of three eyasses.

Nonetheless, because the window washers and the swing stage are going to be right at the nest, there is no reason that the gap beneath the nest and the cornice couldn't now be filled. As I proposed previously (never acted upon), three or four spray cans of foam insulation sealant could be spritzed under the center of the nest, filling the gap.

Because foam sealants have only a 10-inch or so tube snout, a substitute one of about 20 inches may have to be used. in order to get the foam sufficiently to the rear of the nest. But this weatherproof foam insulation needs to be only directly under the nest bowl, not out under the more porous nest rim or edge.
The bowl of the nest is only about 16 to 18 inches or so in diameter. We don't need to fill up everything under the entire nest. That nest extends way out to each side of the egg-holding bowl. Cold air out there is of no concern whatsoever.

The materials costs for this are probably less than $30 dollars. Properly selected foam is weatherproof and will cause no staining or weathering problems.
It's an idea worth going forward with, given this unique opportunity to be once again at the nest site.

--John Blakeman