Just in time for Halloween, Central Park had a bright moon, a bat and a Great Horned Owl this evening. I think it may be an old visitor, as it flew out to a favorite post fly out perch of the owl from two years ago.
The surprise of the day was a Barred Owl in the Ramble of Central Park. It's an unusual bird for the park, especially in the springtime. It was not welcomed by the Blue Jays, who gave it an amazingly hard time. At dusk it began to hunt and was fascinated by a tree cavity. I wonder what it was after?
Cold Weather helps bring owls to Central Park. Today, the park had a Long-eared Owl. At fly out it flew to a few perches and flew to the ground to hunt a rodent. A great bird for such a cold and windy day.
Tonight I was able to track the Great Horned Owl to the Great Lawn, without missing any perches! Stops included a tree near the "humming tombstone", a lighting tower of the Delacorte Theater and finally to one of Pale Male's favorite trees on the Great Lawn.
I'm still no closer to seeing her hunt, but was happy to keep track of her for an hour.
The day started with Octavia and Pale Male on the Carlyle Hotel. He left before I could get my camera out. But she stayed for about half an hour.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent with the Great Horned Owl. For the first time, I was able to follow her above 79th Street. She was perched in a tree in the Locust Grove and then she flew over the Great Lawn.
Central Park's Great Horned Owl has found a nice Hemlock tree to roost in during the day. It's a good tree for the owl, but a difficult tree for photographers!
After fly out the owl made a few stops before spending time in her favorite tree by the lake.
Central Park was full of people today. It seemed that everyone who stayed inside on Saturday was in the park on Sunday. Pale Male had just finished eating a bird in the Ramble when I arrived.
The Great Horned Owl, that no on saw for two weeks but was rediscovered a few days ago, was out in the open in the bright sunlight. She did her best to sleep but helicopters, a drone, a Gray Squirrel, a Tufted Titmouse, Pale Male and a Cooper's Hawk did there best to keep her awake.
I was able to track the Central Park Great Horned Owl for an hour and fifteen minutes after fly out tonight. While I've learned her favorite trees and perches, I've yet to see her hunt for food. I guess like many New Yorkers, she's well fed and in no rush to eat early. She must enjoy having the park to herself when it's closed from 1 a.m. to dusk!
The Great Horned Owl in Central Park looks to be welcoming in the New Year by staying in the park. Nothing much unusual happened tonight after fly out. A nearby tree, then a tree by the Lake and then a long flight out of sight to the north.
It was sixty degrees in Central Park today. The Great Horned Owl continued to be present and an Accipiter, either a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen nearby.
After the fly out of the Owl, it cleaned its talons and then broke off a branch and chewed on it. This has happened on previous nights. I've looked for any mention of this behavior on the internet and haven't found anything that gives a clue about the reason for this interesting behavior.
Tonight, the Great Horned Owl flew out and quickly ended up on the tallest tree on the lake. She spend ten minutes there, preening and expelling a pellet. It was great to be able to watch her for such an extended period away from her roost.
The Great Horned Owl that has been seen in Central Park this fall, has been shifting trees as the ones she has chosen to roost in lose their leaves. She's now using the last tree in the area that still has some leaves. It will be interesting to see where she ends up, once this tree is bare.
I worry about the noise bird watchers make when looking at the Great Horned Owl, but today the major noise was from above in the form of a mob of crows and an airplanes. At first it was four crows who arrived, landed above the owl and sure got it's attention.
After things settled back down again, a slow flying airplane with a banner saying "I Love You Raymond ♥ Nana", circled the park a few times. The noisy plane really annoyed the owl. It's a really strange way to say you love someone by to hire an advertising plane, on the same weekend the global climate deal was signed. Let's hope Nana also bought some carbon offsets to show Raymond her love!
We saw a pellet regurgitated, and it was recovered by a biologist who was watching the owl. Fly out was early and I was able to follow the owl to five more perches before losing her.
This afternoon started a little slow. The Great Horned Owl was in usual spot around 2:30, and I was thinking what am I going to do until fly out at dusk? Luckily, a mature Cooper's Hawk arrived and the owl decided to fly over to it to show it "who was boss". Then the Cooper's Hawk started calling and decided to try and show the owl who was boss. They ended up shifting from perch to perch a few times. There was no contact and it just a lot of bluster but fun to watch.
The Cooper's Hawk left but returned about an hour later to make it's presence known. This time the owl just ignored it.
While preening, the owl broke off a branch and chewed on it. It might have been using it to clean it's beak. It was hard to tell.
The Great Horned Owl continues to be seen in Central Park. It would be great if it stayed around for the Christmas Bird Count. Tonight it few to a nearby tree and we watched it for about five minutes before it flew briefly to another tree and then out of sight.
Central Park was delightful this afternoon. After visiting the reservoir to see the Ring Necked Duck that's been hanging around the southeast corner, I found a Peregrine Falcon perched on the south tower of The Eldorado.
Soon after, I found a Red-tailed Hawk in the Pinetum, who was joined by a second hawk. They circled over Seneca Village before moving out of sight.
My last bird of the day was the Great Horned Owl that has now been in the park for three weeks.
At the risk of being repetitive, here are some more photographs of Central Park's Great Horned Owl. I'm off to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving, so you'll have a break from owl photos for a week! Tonight the owl explored the tree it was roosting in, by jumping/flying to three additional perches before flying out for the evening.
My visit to Central Park started with the search for the Western Flycatcher. It was the star of the day. A vagrant from the west coast, it is unclear if it is a Pacific-Slope or Cordilleran Flycatcher. It was photographed by at least twenty photographers, so I decided just to watch it. A fun bird to watch and get to know, even if it looks a bit scruffy. The two species interbreed, so the discussion about "which species this is?", is really fascinating. See the NY State Bird List for an interesting discussion.
The end of the day was with the Great Horned Owl which was cooperative before and after fly out. It tends to like the tops of bare trees after fly out, which helps greatly while following it after fly out.
The Great Horned Owl which wasn't found last Sunday, was found mid-week and this Saturday. Today, it was on an open branch giving birders excellent looks. I'm glad it's stuck around so long!
The Great Horned Owl in Central Park was difficult to photograph and observe today. It faced away from the easy spots to photograph from this afternoon and evening. Fly out was a little later than the last few nights, but it was a clear rather than cloudy night so this was to be expected. Except for a a brief second flight, we were unable to track the owl tonight.
Update: The owl was not seen Sunday morning, 11-15-15