Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Fifth Avenue nest: summing up

The incubation period for Red-tailed hawks is 28 to 34 days. Since Pale Male and Lola began incubation around March 10, it is long past the time when the eggs would have hatched.

For those who are saddened by another year of nest failure, I'll remind you that the hawks don't look at it that way.

They incubate by instinct, without any anticipation of future offspring. After a certain time, if their chick-nurturing instincts have not been triggered by the sights and sounds of hatchlings, they will abandon the nest and the unhatched eggs.

And then, instead of the tremendous effort and energy required to raise two or three growing hawklets, Pale Male and Lola will have a nice easy spring and summer just feeding themselves and enjoying each other's company. [I know that sounds anthropomorphic, but I believe we have ample evidence that Pale Male and Lola have a companionable relationship.]

So, for those of you who have still been wondering and hoping, that's the scoop for the year 2010.

PS What happens to the unhatched eggs in the nest? Eventually they are eaten by gulls or perhaps bluejays. Waste not, want not.