Daily Archives: April 12, 2011

Raptor Mania

CLP — Main is within view of the Cathedral of Learning, where Oakland’s resident peregrine falcons, Dorothy and E2, currently tend five eggs. Occasionally I see them flying, but the falcons don’t venture near enough to the ground for me to see them closely. Fortunately, we have a camera’s view to aid our sight. Sound is part of the broadcast, too.

Different local fliers, Oakland’s red-tail hawks often perch on low trees near the Library, but no video cam is set up to share neighborhood moment to moment red-tail activity. Checking in with the New York Times April 6, I learned that their City Room began broadcasting live video of a pair of red-tail hawks nesting on a twelfth floor window ledge of Bobst Library at New York University. It’s a privilege to watch the parents patiently tend three eggs, but the real excitement will begin around April 22, when the first egg is expected to hatch.

The NY Times red-tail article directed me to yet another raptor’s nest, this one belonging to a bald eagle pair in Decorah, Iowa. During lunch hour last Thursday I joined 150,000 other online viewers for a bird’s eye view of three newly hatched eaglets and their parents. This live video is a project of the Midwest Raptor Resource Project (RRP).

Though the female is a third larger than the male, it’s difficult to tell them apart even when they’re both in the nest. I watched as one parent flew in with a squirrel, which he (I think it was dad) placed near the stockpile of food. He tore a few bites off for himself, then nestled over the eaglets as mom stretched and flew.

The long stick lying on top of the nest was cause for a bit of action. After mom returned, she attempted to move it out of the way, without stepping on or poking a babe. She snapped off a few tiny twigs with her beak, twisted and pulled the branch, but it remained in her way. After the next shift change, dad dragged it off camera.

Eagles build huge nests. Often they return year after year, repairing and adding to the previous year’s nest. The Decorah tree house is five to six feet wide, and five to six feet deep. The foreground of the photo above contains the food stash. I saw three or four fish, take-out from the hatchery handily located eighty feet below the eagle home. One fish’s gill opened and closed a time or two. Resting under the fish was what looked like a brown-furred, one-eyed rabbit. Though bald eagles prefer fish, they eat a varied diet, including other birds, rodents, and carrion.

The two eagle web cameras, camouflaged five feet above this nest, are controlled remotely by Bob Anderson, Executive Director of RRP. The pan-tilt-zoom cam allowed me to archive screen shots of the surrounding landscape and close-ups of the birds and their food.

Thursday and Friday I captured forty images, which you may view here. Thanks to colleague Renée for Flickr assistance!

Both adults in the nest, seen through rain on the camera lens Friday morning.

Local bird guru Kate St. John covers local bald eagles in her blog Outside My Window. The post “Want to see eagles?” suggests where to find them locally.

From the Library’s collection of books about eagles and other raptors, I recommend the following for vivid photos and introductory information. National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to North American Birds of Prey; How to Spot Hawks and Eagles; Eagles: Masters of the Sky: An Anthology of Writing, Photography and Art from Throughout the World.



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