Monday, March 24, 2014

Is Mom a Cougar?

Sad as we are over the loss of T2, the onward, inevitable cycle of nature means that events are moving fast for Mom. References to Cougar Town and The Bachelor seem appropriate with the appearance of not one, but two young - very young - hawks in her territory.

The first one - let's call him T3A - is an immature. His brown barred tail, and light golden eyes distinguish him from a mature adult which has a red tail and dark eyes.

            Dinko Mitic

Dinko described him thus: "He's young. He's fast. He flies circles around Mom. He's already at home in her territory. He was flying around the Barnes Museum, the Free Library, and the Franklin Institute. Then Mom emerged from somewhere around the Rodin Museum and he went after her. They flew in close circles, I heard them both screech, then they flew together towards the football field on 24th and Parkway."


            Dinko Mitic


            Dinko Mitic


Dinko also captured this exciting dive from T3A.

                                      Dinko Mitic


A closer view of T3A shows that his feathers look pretty beaten up on the ends.

            Dinko Mitic


His tail is tattered, and if you double-click on the image to enlarge it, you can clearly see the pale golden eyes indicating his youth.

                                      Dinko Mitic


He perhaps cemented his Bachelor #1 status by perching on the Franklin Institute - an excellent career move.

            Dinko Mitic


I asked John Blakeman his thoughts on Bachelor #1, and he responded, "This bird is an immature, hatched (somewhere) last spring. It has ragged feathers, from a tough winter. But it's flying around OK. Too young to be a good mating prospect."

Then we have Bachelor #2 - T3B - who appears to be equally young, but whose feathers are in much better condition. T3B appeared in the territory Sunday afternoon.

                  Kevin Vaughan


Carolyn Sutton wrote this exciting account about the bachelor sightings when she, Dinko, and Kevin were out on the Parkway on Saturday.

"We followed the red tail pas de deux along the Parkway. We found Mom in the ball field trees. She was watching her 'friend' soaring high above around the western part of her territory. He soon headed east along the expressway, disappeared briefly until reappearing over the Barnes. We thought we'd lost him but Mom showed us the way. She flew from her tree, circled awhile, then returned to another tree at the end of the field. We discovered both hawks together and watched them follow each other from perch to perch, then take off one after the other back toward Logan Circle. Walk, walk, walk. Voila, there was Mom atop the library with another hawk flying circles above her.
More intrigue. As Mom sat contentedly at the library, Kevin and I watched the high flying juvie exploring the east area of Mom's territory. We were happy to see him return to Logan Circle, BUT….. Sherry [a hawk fan who had joined the group] thought she spotted another hawk flying in from the east. Guess what? She was right. Two unidentified hawks were now showing off for Mom."

Kevin captured one of the suitors perched, watching Mom.

               Kevin Vaughan


And she was watching them!

                            Kevin Vaughan


              Kevin Vaughan


Mom continues to stay close the Franklin Institute, spending time in her favorite tree right across from the nest.

            Kevin Vaughan


She was there on Saturday morning, then took off for the Barnes trees where she sat briefly before heading to Family Court. 

            Kevin Vaughan


After an aborted hunting run at small bird nests behind the Library's protective netting, she repositioned herself for bigger things, and dove straight down from the roof to grab a pigeon on the ground. So lethal and quick was she that neither Kevin nor Carolyn could focus and click to capture the moment. She took off with her prize, finally settling in a pine tree at 18th and Vine to devour her breakfast.

            Carolyn Sutton

Because it now it seems possible that Mom may find a new mate to join her in this nesting season, there are lots of questions about whether she needs to copulate with one of the new suitors to lay eggs, or whether she is currently "eggnant" by T2, and can lay those eggs.

So I turned to John Blakeman, the source of so much hawk knowledge and biology for some answers.


Q) Is it still possible for Mom to lay T2's eggs?

A) Copulation occurred frequently, so the mother’s fallopian tube (has just one) may be loaded with viable sperm, and she may have an egg or two descending her fallopian tube right now. Still, there needs to be a new attending mate. Whether he would, at this late date, copulate, is unknown. It may not be necessary, with a residuum of the former mate’s sperm residing in the fallopian tube.



Q) Why are these new hawks showing up so soon after the loss of T2?

A)  This is the height of the migration, and some floating (unmated) tiercel haggards (adults) will note the absence of a resident tiercel haggard and take up mating (social pair bonding) and perhaps copulation rather promptly — as happened before {when T2 arrived].

Q) What happens if Mom doesn't find a nest site or return immediately to the Franklin Institute nest?

Any eggs yet unlaid may be “dumped”  - laid and then forgotten - while tending to more cogent survival matters, such as hunting and feeding. At the best, no nesting or egg laying would occur in the next week. But if the formel re-orients herself to the former nest, and a new tiercel shows up, there is a good chance she can re-cycle or “double-clutch,” physiologically and psychologically re-starting the entire reproductive process, with eggs laid in April.
But, sadly, there is a significant chance that none of what I’ve suggested can get done in time, and no nesting may occur this spring. Still, there would be the hope that the formel will simply take a year’s reproductive sabbatical and remain in the territory. This would set things up well for next year at the FI ledge.
*          *          *          *          *

So it looks as if Mom has many options, and only she can make the next move.

            Kevin Vaughan


How wonderful it would be if this magnificent hawk returns to her nest at the Franklin Institute.

            Carolyn Sutton


Stay tuned, as there will undoubtedly be new developments in the coming days!  

Many, many thanks to Dinko, Kevin and Carolyn for allowing me to use their wonderful images, and to John Blakeman for sharing his hawk knowledge.


12 comments:

  1. Reading your commentary and seeing the fabulous photos makes me wish I lived in Philadelphia! It's the greatest... many thanks to all. These updates are terrific!

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  3. Thanks, Della, for this upbeat story.

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  4. Once again from the other side of the Atlantic I'm following each post very curious about the next events. Keep going Della and thanks for your great reports!

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  6. Della! It's been 2 weeks! What's up with the hawks. We need GOOD NEWS, please!!

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  7. In this case I think "no news" is not good news. I believe there's nothing to report, and that's why our trusty Della has been so quiet. Della - please - it's been a MONTH since we heard from you..... do hope all is well.

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  8. Just spoke with Della to make sure she is OK. I became concerned, quite frankly. She told me she will post something soon. Bob (xm4665)

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  9. Thank you Bob. I too was worried about her. Between this and the NYU hawkcam being down, it's slim pickins these days.

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    Replies
    1. Not sure of the purpose of this post. Bob (xm4665)

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