7/8, Three Kids on Morningside Drive

Red-Tail Fledgling Another hawkwatching fallacy: Thinking you've figured out a way to distinguish between fledglings.

Sunday

Sunday was hot, so I didn't even consider visiting Morningside Park until relatively late. But on my way to family dinner, I figured I'd swing by. At about 6:20 I was at the southwest corner of the park and saw several pedestrians two blocks up Morningside Drive behaving in a manner suggestive of hawkwatching. Noticing someone trying to use a cell-phone camera was the clincher.

It turned out that all three cathedral red-tail fledglings were perched within about 75 feet of each other.

One was perched directly above the park wall along the sidewalk and only 10 feet overhead.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Another was perched to the north at about the same height but about 30 feet from the sidewalk.

Red-Tail Fledgling

And although I didn't realize it right away, the third was was perched another 20-30 feet further north, but more like 50 feet up.

Red-Tail Fledgling

Now, what's the fallacy? That based on the belly bands, one could distinguish between the three fledglings. The second hawk seen was plainly Brownie, but the light-or-medium idea for distinguishing between Eldest and Youngest wasn't working at all. The first and third fledglings spotted both had light/medium belly bands. Making matters tougher, the one that seemed larger also seemed to have the lighter belly band, so either Youngest is no longer Runt-ish, or... well, maybe it's just the angle of view and that they're not sitting close enough for a really good comparison.

So forgetting the belly band feathers and going by apparent size alone, I decided that the first fledgling was Youngest/Runt and the third way up in the tree Eldest. YMMV.

And what were they up to?

Youngest was screeching a bit, not necessarily at the near-by spectators. Of the three he seemed to be the only one without food in his crop. After a few minutes he flew south 20-30 feet to a perch just below eye-level, and while quieting down, still spent the next 15 minutes actively looking around, down, up and around. It was a hell of a spot, tailor-made for picture posing.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

Click on any of these pix to see bigger versions. Be sure to click the "all sizes" icon on Flickr to check out the really big pix of Youngest.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling
Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

Red-Tail Fledgling

Brownie on the other hand seemed pretty happy with her perch, but was also busy looking around. One wondered if there were mice scurrying around beneath as she looked down a lot. She also sat with wings spread to dissipate heat, but was not panting.

Red-Tail Fledgling

She got some sun now and again, but her spot was generally shady.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

But up in the top of her tree, Eldest was getting plenty more sun. Her mouth was open almost all the time but she uttered nary a screech.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

Red-Tail Fledgling

At 6:45, Youngest decided to move on. He took off, flew past me and then other the head of a fellow getting something out of the passenger side of a car parked along the street. Me he missed by 7-8 feet, but the guy at the car by just a couple feet. Whooosh!

Youngest came to rest in a tree along the sidewalk over by the Cathedral School and stayed there for at least the next 20 minutes.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

Ten minutes later, as I was checking on Youngest, Brownie also decided it was time to move, but she too didn't go far. In fact, she moved even less, going straight to the top of a streetlight that Youngest passed on his flight.

Red-Tail Fledgling Red-Tail Fledgling

Red-Tail Fledgling

A few minutes after 7:00, while I was chatting with a passer-by, Brownie quietly disappeared, flying to parts unknown.

I needed to leave also, but when I left Youngest and Eldest were still in place.

Posted 7/13/2007 05:19:00 PM by Robert

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