Friday, March 25, 2011

Eggs on Fifth Avenue?

Pale Male & Pale Beauty on Thurs 3/24/11
Photo courtesy of
An illuminating exchange of letters between Mai Stewart and John Blakeman:

Hi John,
... true to your prediction, there have now been two reports of Pale Beauty overnighting on the nest just a day or two ago!! (Bruce Yolton/Urban Hawks ) and Lincoln's pix) Looks as tho everything is beginning to happen normally -- either there's an egg already, or there will be soon!

Do you have any idea as to why Pale Beauty was so disinterested in the pigeon PM brought her, several times?? She needs her strength for egg production! . . .



There's only one good reason Pale Beauty would reject or be disinterested in food Pale Male brought to her at this stage, and it's the very best reason. She's fully satisfied and needs no food. Pale Male has been tending his new bride most expertly (Well, he's had a lot of practice at this.)

And Pale Beauty is now doing everything she should be doing. Whether or not there's an egg yet is not clear. Even if there were, she will not be sitting on it in full incubation posture, which she instinctively doesn't want to start until the final egg is laid. Clearly, from her response to Pale Male's offerings, she's had plenty of food, which means that at least two eggs will be laid; perhaps even three.

So it will take a few days for all of this to resolve. Those dutifully watching the nest in Central Park should be noting the height of Pale Beauty's head as she sits presently on the nest. After the last egg is laid, she'll settle down a bit lower, with her naked brood patch then right up against the eggs, to keep them at warmer incubation temperatures. This will start the proper incubation process.

--John Blakeman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yesterday's e-mail included the following note and great picture from JEANETTE HOLMES:

Today I saw a Great Egret in Central Park at The Pond at 59th. It was on the little island right by the bridge.

photo by Jeanette Holmes - Central Park 3/22/11

PS from Marie: Jeanette got it right, but do do you know how to tell a Great Egret from a Snowy Egret?

Answer: The Great Egret has black legs and black feet. The Snowy has greenish legs and yellow feet.

A note in response to this post adds:

Hi Marie,

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the feet – so I identify by the beak:


thin, black=snowy


Linda Maslin

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Pales and the eggs

Pale Male & Pale Beauty atop 930 Fifth Avenue yesterday [3/20/11]
photo courtesy of

Yesterday hawkwatcher Mai Stewart sent a query to Ohio hawk expert John Blakeman expressing concern that incubation had not yet begun on the Fifth Avenue nest. Below, a part of her letter and Blakeman's reply:

Hi John,
I've been getting a little worried that we haven't seen Pale Beauty producing any eggs yet -- she and PM are doing all the right things, yet they're only visiting the nest, not incubating eggs yet, while the RSP [Riverside Park] pair has had eggs for, I think, almost a week, at least.
Am I being too anxious? I thought I remembered Lola sitting on eggs by now -- do you happen to remember when she would begin incubating? Also, that the time for laying eggs was in March, which is fast coming to a close! . . .

Take no concern about the tardiness of eggs from the Pales. Pale Beauty is doing all of this for the first time, and first-time nesters can be a bit tardy. I would expect --- normally --- for an egg to be laid this week, the third week in March. But I'd see no problems unless an egg weren't laid by the end of the first week in April. By then, it's probably too late, and the bird was simply not able to lay this year, mostly for immaturity (not lack of food).
But right now, I see no problem. The pair is copulating repeatedly, and that's usually a good indication that an egg will be on the way.
And she spends very little time on the nest because she's never had to use one as an adult. It's all pretty foreign to her experience right now. But when an egg starts to form and descend in her ovary, she will feel a new instinctive compulsion to settle down into the bowl of the nest. That may be the first sign that an egg will be forthcoming.
We'll just have to wait, allowing ovarian physiology to do its thing.

And no, her leucistic genes play no suppressing role in ovulation or any other associated function.
--John Blakeman

PS from Marie

Looks like Pale Beauty has won the naming contest. Among the many suggestions I've received in the last few days -- among them Pallida, Pale-issima, Pale Female, Pearl, Blanche, Lucy [in honor of leucism] (!)-- Pale Beauty had the most votes. The name also happened to be my own choice [having proposed it], though I needed a bit of support before officially using it.

PPS See Bruce Yolton's blog for more info on hawks and also Central Park screech owls in the North Woods.