Friday, April 25, 2008

More Pale Male bathing photos and a spring migration report

All photos by Barrie Raik
taken on April 22, 2008

As for the accelerating Spring Migration, here's today's exciting report:

Site = Central Park (67th to 87th)
Date = 4/25/08
Time = 6:30am to 10:30am
observers = Douglas Kurz

Strawberry Fields ("SF"), Lake, Falconer's, Ramble,

Tupelo, Castle, Turtle Pond

Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron (imm. flyover)
Canada Goose
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Red-eyed Vireo (one in SF)
White-eyed Vireo (singing, Swampy Pin Oak area)
Blue-headed Vireo (throughout area)
Blue Jay
American Crow (flyover)
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch (SF)
House Wren (Ramble)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (several, Ramble, S. Tupelo)
Hermit Thrush (quite a few)
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing (flock in trees N of Poland Statue)
European Starling
Nashville Warbler (singing at SF, also S. Tupelo)
Northern Parula (one singing N of Bow Bridge along E side of Lake)
Yellow Warbler (one singing at Point, flew across Oven)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (abundant today)
Palm Warbler (still good numbers in Ramble)
Black and White Warbler (one near Summer House)
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow (SF, Tupelo)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (one Lower Lobe of Lake)
White-throated Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Purple Finch (see notes)

NOTES: Tom Fiore had a Cape May at SF (upper canopy oaks at south end) before I got there. I saw several Purple Finches singing today -but they appeared to be females. According to the (large) Sibley, 1st year males appear identical to females, so that would explain it. A wave of Yellow-rumped Warblers gave us the first taste of real
numbers today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nesting goes on and so does the spring migration

Photo by Murray Head -- April 22, 2008

Nesting is going on throughout the park, and the spring migration accelerates.

Joe DiCostanzo led an American Museum of Natural History bird walk in the Ramble this morning and sent a report of the highlights to ebirds:.

Least Flycatcher - south side of Tupelo Meadow
Blue-headed Vireo - several singing in various places around the Ramble
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - male singing at the Oven
Nashville Warbler - one singing se of Tupelo
Yellow-rumped Warbler - all over
Palm Warbler - se of Tupelo
Black-and-white Warbler - scattered individuals throughout Ramble
Northern Waterthrush - Oven
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - male north of The Point

in addition:

Peter Post, a great Central Park birder, reported a male Cape May Warbler in
Strawberry Fields this morning.

Pale Male 's bath

Pale Male taking a bath at the Azalea Pond yesterday - April 22, 2008
Photo by Barrie Raik
At about 7:30 a.m. yesterday a group of about twenty-five birdwatchers, led by Steve Quinn of the American Museum of Natural History, had the rare privilege of watching Pale Male take a nice long bath in the Gill, the little stream that runs into the Azalea Pond. For most of us it was the first time we'd seen a red-tailed hawk bathing.

Meanwhile, at the nest on Fifth Avenue, there are no signs of eggs hatching. Many continue to hope that somehow there will still be a good outcome. But there is no doubt that the prognosis for success is poor now. Too many days have passed.

For those of you who are saddened by the nest's likely failure, it might help to remember that the outcome is very different from the human and the hawk perspective. Though it's hard to make pronouncements about the emotional life of birds, all evidence indicates that they lack the human sense of a past and future, and thus are not likely to grieve at the absence of a hatch. We, of course, remember the joys of the past, those happy days when we followed growing chicks in the Fifth Avenue nest, watching them develop from downy white fuzzballs to large, capable fledglings, all within the space of a few months. Now we can see that our future is to be deprived of these pleasures once again.

It's unlikely that Pale Male and Lola will feel regret or sadness that the eggs didn't hatch, at least not in the way we understand those words They'll continue to sit on the eggs for a few weeks longer--maybe as many as three or four -- following their instincts to incubate as long as there are unhatched eggs in the nest. Finally they'll abandon the nest, a behavior no doubt triggered by a normal decrease in hormones. They'll go about their normal lives in Central Park unaware of their loss, just as they are unaware of their fame. They'll never know that people come to Central Park especially to catch sight of them.

I wish you had all seen Pale Male bathing in the Gill yesterday. It was an image that will stay with everyone who saw it. The sight of this big, healthy, beautiful and powerful bird splashing and bobbing almost comically in the water might have put things into a more cheerful perspective. This is a great bird and we've been amazingly lucky to have had our occasional looks into his secret life.

Another photo of Pale Male bathing. taken on 4/22/08 by Barrie Raik

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beauty and the Hawks

Photo by Ardith Bondi -- 4/19/08

Ardith Bondi, a flutist, photographer and a Central Park Regular, sends in a report on warblers and the Fifth Avenue Hawks as seen on Saturday. She also included a fabulous photo of the latest warbler arrival. See my previous post about yesterday [Sunday] at the Hawk Bench.. Somehow, hope refuses to stay down...
Hi Marie-

This pretty little Prairie Warbler was catching big bugs on The Point yesterday afternoon.

By the way, I sat on the Hawk Bench for at least an hour on Saturday afternoon, and Lola kept checking something under her. Rik agreed that this was unusual behavior. The eggs may have started to hatch then. It was also about the time the Pope was coming up Fifth Ave and a couple of helicopters were hovering overhead. Pale Male finally flew from his building perch, but Lola didn't seem perturbed at all by all the noise. I guess they've weathered lots of parades (and demonstrations...).

Let's keep our fingers crossed that we see more evidence of chicks today.

Best, Ardith

Report from the Hawk Bench

Looking at Lola through Rik's telescope
Photo by Eleanor Tauber - 4/20/08

Both hawks were considerably more active today, with more frequent exchanges occurring. Then, at a little after 3 p.m. Pale Male and Lola each stood at the edge of the nest, looking down into it for about 20 minutes. This can definitely be called a new behavior and caused considerable excitement at the Hawk Bench. When Lola settled back on the nest she seemed to be sitting higher for the rest of the afternoon.

What did all this this mean? Tomorrow should tell.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another PS to the Redtail Review

Robert B Schmunk writes:

One more PS to follow that of Chris Lyons' about the Fordham nest: Jeff Kollbrunner has posted in the news notes on his website that the Briarwood red-tails probably had a hatch the middle of this past week, on the 15th or 16th, as feeding behavior has been observed. Last year, the Briarwood hawks were ahead of the Manhattan hawks in their schedule by about a week, I think. It looks like they are again.

Photo by Jeff Kollbrunner from last year's webcam of the Queens nest.

For more info about this year's nest, click on the link above, and then click on link entitled Current Red-tailed Hawk News.

PS: No news yet from Fifth Avenue. Still could happen...