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North Woods Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

The juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, who spends its time in the North Woods and the Great Hill (and most likely is one of the St. John the Divine offspring) was hunting in The Loch on Saturday afternoon.

It has shocked me that no one seems to be interested in this youngster.  Lots of people complain about how much they miss watching the offspring of Pale Male and Lola.  But, here's a wonderful juvenile bird only twenty five blocks north of Pale Male and Lola's nest and no one is watching it.

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Cape May Warbler

The most common warbler, I was missing from my Central Park list was a Cape May Warbler.  Luckily, there were a number of them on Saturday near Sparrow Rock (or is it Sparrow Ridge?, the area west of the Locust Grove and east of Tanner's Spring)

In any case, this just leaves me with a Blackburnian, Cerulean, Golden-winged, Kentucky and Worm-eating missing from my list.  (I've seen a Worm-eating Warbler about five times, but have never captured a photograph.)

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Friday with Pale Male and Lola

Pale Male and Lola were on opposite sides of the same tree on the western edge of the Great Lawn late this afternoon.  As it got later, she went west to the SE tower of the Beresford and he went east, typical for this time of year.

The first three pictures are of Pale Male and the rest are of Lola.

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Jewelweed Blooms, Hummingbirds Arrive

The temperature is getting a little crisper in the morning, the days are getting shorter and the Jewelweed is in full bloom in Strawberry Fields.  It must be close to Labor Day.

Jewelweed consistantly attracts two birds in the park, Ruby-throated Hummingbird while the flowers are in bloom and when there are seed pods, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

Today, right on schedule a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came in to drink the nectar of the Jewelweed flowers.  For the next few weeks, anyone wanting to see a Central Park Hummingbird, just needs to find the Jewelweed on the south central edge of Strawberry Field lawn and wait for a Hummingbird.  They usually have a route they repeat every twenty minutes in the early evening, so with a little patience you're bound to see one.

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Marie Winn on The Leonard Lopate Show

If all of the great review for Marie Winn's new book, Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife haven't gotten you to purchase it and read it, here's a great interview from this afternoon. She was on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC radio. Click here and then click on the Listen link to hear the interview. 

I even got a mention in the interview!  Thanks, Marie.

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The book is a fun, easy read and is available online at a number of online resellers including:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Borders
or your local bookstore


Astoria Park

I hadn't been able to make it out to Astoria for awhile, but made it out on Saturday.   I was able to see both parents on Triborough Bridge.  They were on opposite sides of the Queens tower of the suspension bridge, just below the roadway level.

I wasn't able to find the surviving juvenile hawk from this pair nicknamed, Buster by the neighborhood.  The hawk from the Lower East Side that was released into the park and had to be returned to rehab after a case of Frounce has unfortunately died. 

The surviving fledgling from the Lower East Side, was recently released in Astoria Park and nicknamed Hank.  This hawk did not stay in the park.  However, hawk sightings further south along the river closer to the Queensborough Bridge have locals wondering if this hawk might be Hank.

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New York Magazine Article

Jesse Green wrote a nice article about the Riverside Hawk pair in this week's New York Magazine. Lincoln Karmin had the majority of photographs, but the magazine used three of my photographs to fill in the story.  So, it's been a good year for me, with a book jacket, an audio appearance on N.P.R., pictures in The New York Times and New York Magazine and an over subscribed lecture for the Parks Department.  I may just have to give up calling myself a "beginner birder".

Jesse Green's article entitled The Hudsons: They’re the hawks who stole Riverside Park’s heart. And then broke it does a good job of explaining the events that occurred this year.

Like any magazine story, there are some minor errors and omissions.

  • The female of the pair was also young.  She was most likely three years old, while the male looked to be two years old.  While this is just a guess the statement "After all, she was older, by a few years; he still had the bright eyes and playful habits of the adoring younger male." most likely isn't accurate.  They are most likely a year apart in age.
  • The story continues the "Pale Male dynasty myth" that all new hawks in the city must somehow be related to Pale Male.  Lincoln Karim called the adult female the daughter of Pale Male, which was next to impossible, since she was young and Pale Male hasn't had offspring for four years. I would suspect that any scientist would tell you that chances that either hawk was an offspring of Pale Male is under 5%.  But without the myth, how could a writer name drop, Paula Zahn and Mary Tyler Moore?  So the myth is conveniently included in the story even if it isn't true.
  • The poisonings may have occurred due to the pest control at the Boat Basin Café, which was in the process of re-opening for the season when the eyasses died.  A number of feral cats, which hung around the café died around the same time.  I don't think this aspect of the story has ever been fully explored.

The story ends with a quote, "Perhaps they’ll find a better spot, where they will be made more welcome."  I think this pair was welcomed by everyone in the neighborhood, so that isn't the issue.

The issue is that we need to change our perspective.  New York City isn't just a man-made world, where we can forget about our impact on nature.  It has always been, and continues to be part of the natural world.  Although it might be missing a few mammals, New York City, including Manhattan contains a full range of animal and plant species which need to be protected.

For city birds this includes:

  • Changing building designs and zoning laws to ensure bird safe buildings.  NYC Audubon has published a great document entitled, Bird-Safe Building Guidelines, which explores this problem and its solution in detail.
  • Limiting the types of poisons and the amounts used in outdoor locations.  In many cases, poisons are used in place of proper sanitation and garbage collection.  This is a complicated issue that doesn't have easy answers.  In an urban environment, rats and mice must be controlled. "How can we do it without impacting raptors?" is the tough question.
  • Educating the public about wide variety of species in the city to help raise awareness and create a political constituency.  San Francisco's Commission for the Environment recently banned specific type of poisons from being used outdoors after hawks died in public parks.  We need the same political support for our environment here in New York City.
  • Understanding the importance of supporting veterinarians and rehabbers, who help injured and infected birds. This year, a record number of raptors needed care, especially from the disease Frounce, which is passed on to hawks from pigeons.  These unsung heroes depend on the public's financial support.  These important caregivers are having their resources stretched thin by the expanding populations of raptors in the city.  If you love hawks in the city, find a veterinarians and rehabbers who needs support and donate time or money to them.

Pale Male on Sunday

Before I went to visit Pale Male, I spent three hours in the North Woods looking for warblers.  It was a good day for early August.  I had four wood warblers, Worm-eating Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and American Redstart.   I didn't take any photographs, I just birded.  It was a relaxing change.

After birding up at the north end of the park, I went down to the Met, and looked for Pale Male.  Luckily, two photographers had already found him, Nabil and Lincoln.  They're much easier to spot!  He was busy looking at the garden near Cleopatra's Needle, then gave up and flew towards the great lawn.  After stopping for just a few minutes, he went to the ground and caught a very small rodent.

He quickly eat the snack sized creature, "brushed his beak" on a tree limb, and was then off to the north.  However, he quickly returned to his favorite fall perch and went to sleep for the night.  Although the last image may look like daylight, it was already about 20 minutes past sunset.

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Pale Male and Lola After The Saturday Thunderstorms

Pale Male and Lola were where I expected them to be today late this afternoon after a strong thunderstorm.

Pale Male was in a tree on the Great Lawn enjoying that it was closed and free of people.  (The Parks Department closes the lawn whenever it is too wet.)  Reports are that he spent the whole afternoon in the same tree, although he did shift perches moving from branch to branch.

Lola likes to be high up, so I expected her to be on a building on either Central Park West or Fifth Avenue.  I found her on a building at 78th and Fifth Avenue being harassed by an American Kestrel.

After all of the ups and downs of this Spring's breeding season, it was nice to find some consistency.  Soon it will be Fall and Pale Male will hunt around nearby apple trees which attract rodents with their fallen fruit.

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