Monday, March 5, 2012

Nest....Camera....Action!

The action is now fast and furious at the nest as the hawks add to its decor.  Last week, pieces of pine greenery started to appear, along with variations on the paper and plastic theme for the bowl lining.



By the end of last week, the front wall of sticks rose ever higher with some sizeable branches in there.


You have to be a bit lucky when watching the Ustream feed to catch the hawks on the nest.  Sometimes hours go by and nothing.... except maybe a hawk gazing out at the streetscape.


Then, in a trice, something quite extraordinary.  Earlier this week the formel had made one of her rare appearances on the nest, and was working on twig placement at the back when dad flew in and literally dove head first under her and body-blocked her off to the side.



The tiercel (dad) is the maitre de decor, and this is definitely HIS nest.



He spends much more time in the nest than his mate, tweaking and organizing the various twigs and sprigs....


... as well as sitting in the bowl of the nest.




Hawkcam watchers can be forgiven their assumption that the hawk who spends the most time at the nest is the female.

An easy way to identify the tiercel is by the white spot at the back of his head.





That spot is pretty easy to see even when he is out at the front of the nest.



In contrast, the back of the formel's head has no white spot.



There are also some differences in the markings on their backs.  The white patches on the formel's back spread further over her wings and the spots are bigger than dad's.



His spots are smaller and more concentrated in the center of his back.



If you're lucky enough to see them from the front, there is a clear difference in their facial and chin coloring under the beak.  Mom has a dark chocolate colored face and chin, while dad's chin is light gray, and overall he has a paler face.

       Kay Meng


In this sequence from last Friday, the formel landed on the front of the nest with a sprig of dead oak leaves.  Dad snatched them away from her...



... and started to arrange them amongst the pine greenery, while she watched.



He poked and pulled at them...



 ... and was having some difficulty placing them to his liking.



Mom continued to watch his efforts, and when she stepped forward...



... he lay down on the pesky oak sprig as if to lay claim to it, even though it was her offering.



She seemed to know she was not wanted, and took off leaving dad to finish his work.



And then take a break.



Here are some pictures from Kay Meng taken this morning (Sunday) when we visited the nest, and saw both hawks there together - a relatively rare sight.  The formel on the left is bigger and more imposing than her mate.





Of course, it wasn't long before they engaged in their favorite activity....





Kay also caught this great shot of the tiercel's magnificent tail and wings as he came in to land on the nest.


We're heading into egg-watch time.  Last year, the first egg was laid on March 17.  In 2010, it was on March 13, and in 2009 on March 9.  Not long to wait......

1 comment:

  1. Great post Della! I am so grateful to FI for early turn on of camera and you guys for using all this to add to our body of knowlege at what happens at the nest before eggs are laid. Good stuff! Anf I think I can ID Mom and Dad now!
    Donna

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