Hi All. This hawk diary business has become very time consuming!
Between watching and writing and orienting friends to the nest, and
entertaining friends who come to watch I'm finding it hard to get
anything else done! Eeek! But it's a labor of love and this opportunity
may never come again. Now my diaries are being printed in the Ukiah
Daily Journal, with Jon's incredible pictures, so I am working more on
the quality of the writing than I did on the installments I sent out
before. (You'll notice a little early repetition in this installment,
which is what I just sent to the Journal).
Unfortunately the Journal all of a sudden printed the first unedited
draft I had sent to them as a teaser at a point when I thought we were
still in the negotiation phase. So I've learned never to send anything
that I don't consider print-ready. But Richard, at the Journal, and I,
are developing a good working relationship.
Jon Klein has driven here from the coast three times now, and has spent
4.5 - 5.5 hours in the blind at a time. Again, please don't send his
photos on, or use them in any way without giving him credit. BTW, the
Journal is going to do a full story on him, with pix. Richard
interviewed him yesterday.
For those of you on Mendobirds, for some reasons the pictures don't
come through, but George Chaniot is posting them on the Peregrine
HAWK DIARIES (2ND INSTALLMENT FOR THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL)
Special to the Journal by Kate Marianchild
(This is the second installment of my diary about a red-shouldered hawk
family that lives near my home. I live in oak woodland northwest of
Ukiah. The nest is high in an oak tree, and is about 60 feet from my
viewpoint. The sex of the hawk baby is not known, but I have decided to
refer to her as a female in order to make the writing easier).
Sunday, May 8
Rain. The red-shouldered hawklet is growing by flights and bounds. She
spreads her grey-white wings and the breath catches in my throat. She’s
so young, and so new to her wings. One of the parents is keeping her
warm. I’ve learned that only half of bird babies survive until it’s
time to fledge, but I hope the numbers are a little higher among
raptors. I hope this baby will fly.
She survived the rain. She is 13 days old today.
Morning – A parent brought a lizard to the nest. I now hear peeping
when a parent arrives, even without food. The baby (my goddaughter!)
appears vigorous and has a good appetite. It's funny to see a sharply
aquiline profile on such a fuzzy head and body. Overall she appears to
be about the size and shape of a small crookneck squash.
The hawklet was left alone in nest for almost 3 minutes. She gazed
straight at me. The fleshy part at the top of her upper bill, the cere,
is starting to turn a light yellowish-green. Overall she is still
grey-white. She has about 30 more days to grow into her full size and
plumage before she fledges.
Late afternoon: Watched with Kayla. Kayla and I both thought we saw
something white fly out from the center of the nest. Projectile
Sunny. Definitely saw something white ejected from inside the nest,
vicinity of baby. Projectile poop. What a talent. Big rodent arrived.
These parents are so competent! Jon Klein came and took pictures today.
He climbed an oak to get closer to the nest, and set up a blind of
green sheets and camo netting. Inside the blind is a structure of
lashed 2x4’s that he sits and leans on. It’s way out on a mossy
horizontal limb 25 feet off the ground. Ingenious. He figured out that
the adult who spends the most time at the nest and feeds the baby is
definitely the female. The male is smaller and has a greyer head.
Jon came back today for more pictures, and is up in the tree right now.
He's hoping for feeding pictures. I'm working on my laptop at the
landlubbers' viewing point.
The hawklet is too big to fit under her mother today, so she is sitting
and clambering around beside her. She appears to be about a third again
larger than she was yesterday! What if she falls out?
I hope something interesting happens so Jon can get good pictures.
Oh, here we go! Dad arrives, huge wings spread for landing, carrying a
baby rabbit. Rabbit transferred to Mom, who puts it down. Dad leaves
the nest immediately. Baby chirp-chirps. Mom looks around as if
pretending she doesn’t know the rabbit is there. Is she hoping the baby
will start feeding herself? More waiting. Finally Mom gives in and
tears off a chunk. She tips her head and delicately offers a morsel to
her baby. The next bite is way too big for baby so she gulps it down
herself. Mom has an absent-minded moment and drops a chunk of flesh on
her baby’s head.
May 12, 2005
I heard a commotion and came out of my house. High overhead a
red-shouldered hawk was screaming at a circling red-tailed hawk. He
screamed and screamed until the red tail nonchalantly drifted out of
“our” territory. I ran over to the nest. The baby was alone but OK. Had
Mom participated in the defense of the baby?
The little hawk was not very active today. I am worried that she is
sick. I couldn’t help but think how helpless the parents would be if
faced with a sick youngster. At around 6:30 p.m. the mother kept
tucking and pushing a big sprig of oak leaves around in the nest. Maybe
she’s trying to raise the floor, which must be pretty gunky by now.
Baby has started scratching and preening. The tips of her wing feathers
are turning black. They look like black fringe. The intervals when no
adult is at the nest are getting longer - maybe 8-10 minutes.
I have a burning question: where does the dad spend the night?
May 14, 2005
The mom is working at arranging lichen (old man’s beard). Does it help
control mites and vermin? The baby falls over a couple of times while
trying to move around in the nest. I wonder if she has a bad leg. Both
parents are away for 50 minutes – the longest absence yet. I hope they
haven’t abandoned the baby because she’s gimpy. I’ve become a very
Mother comes back carrying a branch with trailing lichen. Puts it on
the floor of the nest. Oh, I get it! When the baby falls over it’s
probably because she’s tripping on branches and twigs and lichen.
It’s after noon and the baby hasn’t eaten since 9:30. Mama’s clearly
wondering when Dad is going to come with food. She finds a dried up old
carcass lying around in the nest and tugs hard to get a few ratty
strands off of it. Baby chirps. Receives a skimpy morsel. Mom flies off
with the old carcass clutched in one talon. She calls from nearby, but
gets no response from Dad. She flies back and lands on a branch near
the nest, still carrying the carcass. She keeps looking around and
calling for her mate. I wonder if something has happened to him. She
flies back to the nest, still clutching carcass. More than an hour
later, at 1:21, Dad finally arrives with a rodent. A foodless interval
of almost 4 hours.
Baby much bigger. Her wingspan might be 24 inches! She survived the
latest unseasonable torrential downpours. She’s preening a lot, and
walking more confidently on edge of nest. But she looks like hell -
like a wad of cotton that got rolled around in dirty sand. It’s because
her dark colors are coming in. Mama appears to be eating lichen.
Jon in tree. It looks like Mama is eating mites off the baby. How? Does
she spear them with the hook on her bill? Dark banding is showing on
baby’s tail. No sign of baby feeding herself yet.
Jon comes down. He says my goddaughter is spoiled! Years ago he watched
another red-shouldered hawklet, and by this age both parents were away
from the nest most of the time. They would just drop off food and leave
the baby to feed itself. Once he saw them drop off a live snake. The
baby tried to swallow it live. The baby would get the snake halfway
down and then it would wriggle back out! Gross. Jim Armstrong is
watching a red-shouldered hawk nest right now, and “his” baby is alone
most of the day. My goddaughter has her mom with her most of the time,
and is still being fed.
I’ve been pondering the” spoiled baby” question. I have four theories:
1) the baby is delicate in some way and needs extra care; 2) she is a
slow learner; 3) there isn’t a lot of canopy above this nest, and one
parent has to be there most of the time for protection; 4) the dad is
such a good provider and the hunting is so good that this family can
afford to have a Stay-at-Home Mom. I lean toward the latter theory.
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