Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Part 3: Whole lotta Predatin' Goin' On!

With the huge numbers of birds on the move, both migrant and resident raptors adjust their behavior. By preying on the migrants as well as each other, the raptor world is in a constant state of flux. The resident kestrel pair have successfully fledged their brood this year, and no longer defend their territory as aggressively against the St. John the Divine RTH's. Instead they focus their attention on the increased suppply of food, supplemented by a healthy diet of migrants. I found the kestrel pair, hunting together and keeping a watch out for any other marauding raptors.

The female lifted off and wrapped around.

Coming to land just a few feet away!

I was shocked to see that this female has been banded! If anyone knows anything at all about kestrel banding projects in NYC, contact me ASAP!
I was just as shocked to see the female leap off

and join the male in pursuing a happless veery. They crisscrossed directly in front of me and chased the veery over the side of the building as it dove for the park! They were so close, I could hear the wingbeats! Truly an amazing site, but alas so quick I could not photograph it. They rejoined each other, again in formation.

Suddenly, the male began his shrill "killy, killy, killy" but did not rise to attack as the a resident RTH floated by!

The kestrels then went on scanning the park. Soon a confused little Golden Crowned Kinglet happened on the spot.

As it blindly blundered towards the kestrels, the male, then the female both dove off in hot pursuit. Another breathless chase insued, and I do not know the out come, but a few minutes later, both kestrels reappeared on a nearby antenna.

The female and the male both split up. TBC!

Also seen were a phoebe and a GBH!

Aside from the intense kestrel action...the Cooper's hawks have entered the picture. John Blakeman has indicated that Cooper's Hawk predation has kept kestrel numbers low in rural America. Here in the city, they definitely can take Kestrels, but its mostly young, as the adults have adopted strategies such as the one above. Also I have observed it where kestrels will pick perches such as antenna where the top, bottom and side approaches are covered from any potential ambush attack. As this next sequence shows, its the other Cooper's that some Cooper's have to worry about. Here's a juvy and an adult in a pretty intense confrontation.

The adult sees the juvy off!


Anonymous said...

What do you mean ? Hawks Kill kestrels ? I don't Understand this , forwhat ?

yojimbot said...

Hawks often kill young Kestrels and eat them!