Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Is Going On?

I haven’t been providing updates on the latest hawk happenings because there weren’t any – until yesterday.  I think.

I came downstairs as I do every morning; turned out our front light as I do every morning; opened the front and storm doors to feel the weather as I do every morning; and looked up at the hawk nest as I’ve done every morning for the past month and a half – expecting nothing and instead saw the slow, deliberate movement of a large, hook-beaked head.

Mars was following me.  “Come out here and look at the nest!”  She did, and not surprisingly saw the same thing. 

Because of the viewing angles, etc., we have never had a good vantage point into the aerie.  Now leaves have appeared on the trees so even that minimal window is rapidly shrinking.  I wondered, “What is going on?”

Ninety minutes after as we headed out to the health club, with the aforementioned skull still in sight, the second raptor glided onto the perch next to the aerie.  We hung around for a few minutes.  So did he.  (I’m assuming that the peripatetic predator is a he – it is smaller (as “he” would be) and not tied to the nest (as most write-ups I’ve seen say “she” would be.))

Later, after we had returned from working out and were on our way to some volunteering at our historical society, he landed again, – this time with something small (and presumably edible) dangling from its bill.  Soon he left without it.

What is going on?

Just the day before we were commenting to our across the street neighbor D – who until the trees began leafing had a perfect line of sight through her binoculars into the aerie – that we hadn’t any hawk action for several days.  Neither had she.  We all were beginning to give up hope.  Now it was clear to Mars and me that some thing was happening – we just don’t know what.

Remembering that frequently the answers you get depend upon the questions you ask I queried of the all-wise Google “how long before hawks leave the nest?”

The online Wisconsin State Journal had a May 2012 news column titled with basically the same question.  "About 45 days is all it takes for them to fledge — to leave the nest for good," 

At the time the newspaper was reporting the goings-on of a hawk couple in Madison WI that they were following via hawk-cam.  They said that those chicks broke out of their eggs April 19, and thus had a projected June 3 departure date.

“But watch for plenty of action before that.

"’They grow very rapidly, which is why you see the parents spending so much time off-nest even now, just a couple weeks after they hatched,’ Berres said. ‘It's like feeding a gang of growing teenagers, and it's all the parents can do to keep up with the hunting required to meet the chicks' physiological needs.’"

Unfortunately that camera was taken down in June of last year and the website says that the hawks did not return in 2013.

Now I am even more curious as to what is going on in our own hatchery.

I searched further into the world of intrusive wildlife webcasts and found a New York Times live coverage of a red-tailed hawk nest in Washington Square Park.  The last posting on the site, dated 3/20/13, said, “The stars of the reality raptor drama, believed to be last year’s couple, Rosie and Bobby, are currently warming three eggs on a nest situated on the 12th-floor window ledge of New York University’s president, John Sexton.”

During my brief viewing time I saw three gangly balls of brown feathers toddling cautiously around the pile of twigs – and a full-sized hawk (Rosie?) basically trying to stay out of their way.  Presumably, if I had watched long enough, Bobby would also appear in the frame bearing nourishment for the home-bound brood.

Mars has named our duo after the actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.  And probably life in Uma and Ethan's aerie is mimicking that of Rosie, Bobby, and family. 

So that’s what’s going on at the moment – though invisible to us.

However, now there is a larger and much more troubling question.

I just learned that real-life Uma and Ethan’s seven-year marriage ended amid rumors of his affair with the couple's nanny whom he later married.

Some guy left Uma Thurman!!  What is going on?



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