I was rather interested in a couple of articles in two different newspapers on two different continents this week. Both items of "news" took my interest because they were about birds I have seen.
The first I have put here appeared in the Saturday (today) New York Times. I have interspersed my photos of the bird in question. I took the photos on one of my walks through Central Park. The red tailed hawk appeared when I was walking out of the park near the Plaza hotel.
Meanwhile, Pale Male Is Taking His Cues From Hefner
By JAMES BARRON
Enough of Violet and Bobby, live from the nest — you know, the red-tailed hawks at New York University with the video feed. Inquiring minds want to know what’s with Pale Male and all the girlfriends.The Ann Landers of red-tailed hawk sociology, as John Blakeman calls himself, cleared his throat and talked about mate-swapping.
Apparently Pale Male, the red-tail with the Fifth Avenue address, has been doing that lately, Mr. Blakeman said, even though it “violates everything we know about red-tails.”
Ah, yes. It’s spring, and you don’t have to be Tennyson to fancy that some New Yorkers’ thoughts will turn to Pale Male’s love life.
There is a lot to report.
Lola, Pale Male’s mate from 2002 to 2010, is out of the picture. She disappeared during the winter. No one seems to know why. It might not have been pretty. Consider this: “One of Pale Male’s former females was found dead on the side of a highway in New Jersey,” said the author Marie Winn, who has been keeping tabs on Pale Male since the 1990s.
Let’s leave “The Sopranos” out of this, O.K.?
So what has life after Lola been like? Pale Male was not down in the dumps for long, unless he swooped by a landfill for dinner, but this is about his hunger for the opposite sex. “As ever, because Pale Male is a real stud, a new female showed up almost instantly,” Ms. Winn said.
That was the one the Pale Male-watchers called Ginger.
But just when things seemed as steamy as that sex club on “Law & Order: S.V.U.” the other night, Ginger became an ex, or so the birders speculate — suddenly she was nowhere to be seen, and there was someone new: Pale Beauty. (Some birders called her Paula.)
Then she, too, was gone, replaced by “the one there now,” as Ms. Winn described the female that has been keeping company with Pale Male. Some birders call her Lima, but others wonder if she isn’t really Ginger. Pale Male’s girlfriends are not banded, Ms. Winn said, so there is no way to double-check their identities.
For his part, Mr. Blakeman has enough experience in the advice-for-the-lovelorn business to anticipate the questions. Like Ann Landers, he is a Midwestern oracle. He lives in Huron, Ohio, “halfway between Cleveland and Toledo, at almost exactly the same latitude as New York City.” But he has followed red-tails from Alaska to Maine, and he can guess what question is coming next.
“You’re going to ask whatever happened to Pale Beauty, why she disappeared so quickly,” Mr. Blakeman said. “There’s a 99 percent certainty she passed. She crashed into something and died, or more likely she consumed a poisonous animal, and that did her in.”
“All the textbooks say, and all we raptor biologists believe, they’re mated for life,” Mr. Blakeman said. “We know, especially with red-tails, they pick up a new mate with the passing of a former mate.”
The birders have an eye out for eggs in the nest atop a 12th-floor ledge at 927 Fifth Avenue, at 74th Street. With all that activity, there must be some eggs by now. But so far, no.
“They are trying,” said Rik Davis, a photographer who keeps an eye on the Fifth Avenue lair. “It’s late in the season already, but it can go late. It did last year over at Riverside Park. Two hawks there had babies that hatched but the nest blew out in the wind, and they mated again and had babies. So it can be late and turn out fine.”
The second article isn't so pleasant and it has haunted and bothered me during the week. It is an awful incident that occurred in the park around which I used to walk with Rosemary. Rose and I would meet at 6am three times a week and we would walk around the Park three times- it is nowhere as big as Central Park but it is home to a variety of bird life including the native Australian black swans. Many morning in spring we'd see the grey fluffy piles that were the cygnets of the two black swans that called the park home. The story is from The Age newspaper.
Swan grieves after teens' callous brutalityA lone male swan is keeping a mournful vigil on a nest in Melbourne’s north this morning after its partner was killed in a brutal attack in a park yesterday afternoon.
Six teenagers are suspected of throwing rocks at the female swan as it swam at Queens Lake Park in Moonee Ponds about 3.40pm in an attack the RSPCA described as "abhorrent".
Senior Constable Rob Hanger from Moonee Ponds police said the bird then fell unconscious, and one person held the bird’s head out of the water until police arrived. The swan died about 20 minutes later.
The swan was nesting at the time, and Senior Constable Hanger said its partner was now sitting on a nest of eggs beside the lake.
"He’s obviously waiting for her to return," he said.
He said he hoped the teenagers would feel guilty enough to turn themselves in.
The surviving swan guards its nest today after teenagers killed its mate
RSPCA spokesman Greg Boland said swans usually mated for life, and there would be harsh ramifications for the remaining bird.
"This will impact upon rearing the young," Mr Boland said. "This swan will have to try and raise the cygnets alone which is going to be quite a concern from an animal welfare perspective.
"The swan is a mother doing what all mothers would do, and that’s protecting its young, and for these people to come along and allegedly throw stones at it and then cause it to actually die is abhorrent.
"Not only is it extreme animal cruelty, but there’s a strong link between people who are involved in animal cruelty, especially at a young age, and later on in life moving on and becoming involved with quite serious crimes against humanity."
Senior Constable Hanger said the offenders - four males and two females aged between about 15 and 17 - were on a new boardwalk over the lake when the attack occurred. They were only a few metres from where the swan was swimming, he said.
"The witnesses didn’t see what was thrown but obviously heard the commotion when the swan became distressed," he said. "We arrived very quickly, we were only three minutes away, and one of the witnesses was holding the swan’s neck out of the water. It was still alive at that point but it died probably 15-20 minutes later.
"It may have only been one object thrown, we can’t say, because we don’t have any witnesses to what was actually thrown or how many objects were thrown.
"The object hit it fair in the head. We couldn’t see any other wounds on it so I’m tipping it was a direct hit."
Moonee Valley Mayor John Sipek said he could not understand why anyone would hurt an innocent animal. He said the dead swan had laid two eggs in its nest, and its partner now appeared to be caring for them. "Council rangers will keep a close eye on the swan and its eggs to ensure their safety and wellbeing," he said.
The teenagers are thought to have run from the park when the bird was injured.
Mr Boland said the maximum penalty for aggravated animal cruelty was two years’ imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.