Wednesday, March 9, 2011

doing things differently

Cantabridgians apparently love to do things differently. For example, if a Red-tailed Hawk female had laid an egg and was beginning incubation, you would expect the female to spend 90-95% of the day on the egg or eggs, incubating. Ruby might have spent the first night on the egg, but around 7:15 a.m., according to Susan Moses, Buzz replaced Ruby on the nest. Buzz remained on the egg and fussing about the nest until 9 a.m., when Ruby flew in. Both were in the nest briefly but then Ruby “assumed the position.” She fussed about the nest too, moving many smaller sticks around, and shifting her body frequently. She was obviously not quite comfortable. Another example was when I saw a middle-aged man with wire rim spectacles wearing a black English bowler, a narrow black tie, a conservative English suit, and a “man purse” (shades of Seinfeld). He looked like he had just gotten off at Alewife following a long “tube” ride from London! Maybe a 40-year ride; at least he looked like many Tory London businessmen I saw there 40 years ago! Only in Cambridge!

At 9:15, Buzz flew in from the south with a beak full of long strands of some vine. Dead vine, but it looked soft and more comfortable to sit on than some of the spruce branches in the nest! Ruby continued to work on the nest. When Buzz incubated, he tended to face the west wall, and his butt was often sticking up into the wind, showing off his white undertail coverts. Ruby, however, was constantly fidgeting. Those damn sticks just weren’t right, and she often faced into the moderate but cold east wind.

At 9:26 Ruby leapt from the nest and flew west. The nest and the presumed egg were totally exposed to the elements and anything else for 17 minutes, with no adult present.

At 9:43, Buzz returned to the nest, moved some sticks about, and began to incubate, facing west. This is not how it is normally, at least in my limited experience. With Rocco and Jolene in Medford, Jolene spent almost the entire day on the nest. She is a large, experienced mother to several generations of Redtails. Rocco would replace her relatively briefly, one or more times a day. She spent 90-95% of her time on the eggs. I was most aware of Rocco coming in in the afternoon and relieving her. It was like he came in and she went out to fly around the block and work the kinks out. She was never gone for very long. But today, Ruby spent very little of the morning on the nest, while Buzz took on more responsibility.

At 10:04, Ruby flew in. Buzz got up and took off, flying to the Social Security Building. (Trying to get a Social Security Number for the first egg?) At 10:19, the apparently moody Ruby left the nest again and flew towards the Social Security Building. Buzz then appears, flying in from Fresh Pond and goes into the nest, but six minutes later, he leaves and flies towards the Social security Building where Ruby is sitting and lands next to her. They then soared low around the building and over CVS, with Buzz doing a few stutter courtship flaps.

At 10:28 Buzz returned to the nest, faced the west wall, and shifted occasionally. His mate was nowhere to be seen. At 10:50, I left, with Buzz doing his filial duty, and perhaps we were both wondering what was egging Ruby!

NOTE: Yesterday I spoke with a man from Rhode Island (Richard??) who had purchased a camera to photograph the hawks should they nest again this year. He said his lady friend, Pat .... worked in the area and told him that Ruby was Buzz’s second mate. I took that to mean that Pat was saying Buzz had mated and apparently raised chicks with a different Red-tailed Hawk earlier. If anyone who reads this knows who Dick or Pat might be, please email me directly. Last year I thought it likely that it was Buzz and Ruby’s first year together, or their first year with young. This reference to “Pat’s opinion” is the first I’ve heard where someone might have closely followed the Redtail pair nesting across from the Shell station closely and could identify Buzz and his previous mate. I’d love to talk with “Pat.”


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