Thursday, June 16, 2005

Any way you "slice" it: Blakeman on nest hygiene

The inconvenience of the white droppings on the canopy of 927 Fifth Ave. during the weeks between hatching and fledging seems to have been a major complaint that precipitated the nest removal last December. As hawkwatchers know, these were not Pale Male and Lola's "doing." Below, John Blakeman gives a scientist's viewpoint on this lowly behavior, and also warns us to be prepared for possible heartbreak. [Forewarned is forearmed.]


One other thing to watch for at the Trump Parc nest. Sooner or later, each of the eyasses will feel the urge to give proper attention to defecation, to "slice" as it were, over the edge of the nest instead of to just drop the droppings anywhere. As they begin to assume the hygienic civility of mature red-tails, the eyasses back their tails in the direction of the nest edge, lift their rumps (as well as they can), and try to send the fecal stream over the edge. Often, this concerted effort exhausts the little bird, and it simply flops over, often precariously near the nest edge, and it takes a nap.

As I may have mentioned previously, from time to time an eyass backs up one centimeter too close to the edge of the nest and it simply falls out. In most cases, that's the end of the bird. So, should this happen (not likely, but possible), just understand that this, too, is a part of red-tailed hawk biology. We should lament for a moment, then go back to watching the remaining eyass grow and prosper.


John A. Blakeman