I'm looking forward to the 2015 Red-tailed Hawk nest hatches in Central and Morningside Parks. We have three confirmed nests in Central Park, a pair seen frequently in the NE section of the Central Park, and our Cathedral hawks have a new nest location exposed to the elements.
With any new season, I look forward to discovering new aspects of urban Red-tailed Hawk behavior.
Three Central Park nests is fantastic news this year. But one has to wonder about locations and why these three nests are so close together? Do these three Red-tailed hawk pairs benefit by having protected flanks from the other pairs? Does this outweigh any issues over food contention, etc.? Or did the new nest locations have nothing to do with the other nest locations? It will be interesting to see when other raptor species fly over the park, if the Red-tailed Hawks work together to escort them away. And which pair will tale over the Locust Grove.
The Beresford Apartment nest will have new fledglings who will have to cross Central Park West to end up in Central Park or maybe even Teddy Roosevelt Park. Which buildings will they perch on the first few weeks? The Museum of Natural History? Or like many Red-tails, will they try to get as high as possible the first week and end up back on the Beresford? Where will the parents take them to hunt? South to the calm lawn south of The Yard? Or up North?
How will the exposed nest do at the Cathedral of Saint John? Will it be as productive as St. Andrew had been?
And is there a forth pair nesting near the park? Almost all of the experienced hawk watchers in Central Park saw a pair of hawks all winter around the Conservatory Garden. In April, many of us have seen a single hawk in the park, who flies over to Madison Avenue between 100th to 106th. Is there a nest tucked away a block from the park or in the public housing east of Madison?
I'm looking forward to learning more about Red-tailed Hawks this season. How fantastic is it that one of the best places to study Red-tailed Hawks is in the middle of Big Apple! New York City truly is one hell of a town.
I went down to Bryant Park to look at the Chuck Will's-widow at night to see if I could take pictures of it feeding. I did get to see it but it was only perching while I visited. At least it was awake!
A Coyote was captured in Riverside Park on Saturday and later released in a Bronx wilderness area. After a few difficult captures that resulted in Coyote deaths in the last decade, it's great to see Animal Care & Control and the New York City police department coordinating well, and humanly relocating Coyotes.
Friday was a tougher day to see the Couch's Kingbird, than Thursday. It was harder to find and when found didn't stay around as much.
When I was watching it, the most reliable location was 11th and 4th Streets again. I did find a berry tree just south of 11th Street, which could be seen from West 4th and Perry, where American Robins and the Couch's Kingbird were eating berries. I suspect the bird is eating and then taking advantage of the sun on 11th Street to digest them.
Another rare Kingbird, is in New York besides the Cassin's in Brooklyn. It's a Couch's Kingbird and is in Greenwich Village. I saw it as my first bird of the New Year. (It was a life bird for me.) The bird was discovered by Zack Winestine.
The bird which is normally in Mexico and southern Texas, is for some reason in some of the most charming blocks of the Village. This afternoon, it was mostly at 11th and 4th Streets. (In the Village, these two streets do meet!)
From the looks of the seeds it's regurgitating, it's surviving on a diet of mostly fruit rather than insects.
Last Saturday, Kai Sheffield found a Cassin's Kingbird out at Floyd Bennett Field. Scores of birders tried to find it last Sunday. So, it was great to see a tweet from Rob Jett that the bird had been refound in the Community Gardens of Floyd Bennett Field this Saturday.
When I got out to Floyd Bennett Field there were about 35 birders looking for the bird. Almost all of them got great view of the rare bird found normaly in the southwest of the United States.
I'm still out at the Grand Canyon and found this young Turkey Vulture on a cliff face.
It's so great to be on vacation and see the breeding locations of birds you see migrating through New York City in the spring and the fall. I've never seen a young Turkey Vulture before! Cute, but still with a face only a mother could love!
I had the good fortune to see these five California Condors arrive outside my hotel room during the World Cup Final. Five Condors is 7% of the wild AZ/UT population! Guess what took priority! The tag numbers were 23, 30, J1, J4, L3.
All confirmed nests have hatched except for Thompkin Square Park, which should hatch by this weekend.
Randalls Island hasn't been confirmed. I couldn't find either hawk on my visit last weekend.
The eyasses are getting bigger and confirmed counts are coming in. Fifth Avenue has three eyasses, with the other counts at two. (Thanks to the Morningside Hawks Blog for news about J. Hood Wright Park.)
It looks to be a great year for Red-tailed Hawks in Manhattan, with slightly lower eyess totals due to the cold and snowy winter.
The major news is that NYU will not be providing a web feed this year from the Washington Square Park nest. NYU took over after the New York Times stopped sponsoring the camera last year, but choose not to continue this year.
While NYU may not be continuing the camera, their commitment to the hawks is still very strong. Last year, when the fledglings were on the street, NYU's Public Safety team was very protective of them. This support of the hawks will continue.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy breached Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge's West Pond, transforming this formerly freshwater habitat into a saltwater lagoon of Jamaica Bay. Over a year later, this breach has not been repaired. A very small fraction of New York City's original freshwater habitat remains, due to overdevelopment throughout the City. As a result, the freshwater habitat of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is crucial for New York City's birds.
I love birding Randall's Island (a small island East of Manhattan, south of the Bronx, and west of Queens) in the winter. I generally don't see another birder when I visit, but today because of a Barnacle Goose found by Anya Auerbach, there were lots of birders. I also had two Snow Buntings by the water's edge east of Field 31. Both species were life birds for me, so today was a great day. New York City has lots of great birds in January!
Snowy Owls continue to be abundent in the outer boroughs of New York City. Today, I took advantage of the warm weather to look for them yet again. I saw three today.
Today was the first day I saw owls being harrased by photographs. The grasslands of the park I was visiting is off limits to all visitors. Unfortunetly, two photographers violated these rules. The owls weren't hurt in any way, but both were moved about by the photographers.
If you go looking for Snowy Owls, and are visiting a park for the first time, please take the time to visit the park's ranger station or nature center. Most of the grasslands and beaches have strict rules about where you can walk, but also don't have good signage. Vandals, storms and budget cuts have removed many of the warning signage in the New York area. Rather than assume there are no rules, search them out. Every park has them!
I was out birding on Jones Beach, but swung by Brooklyn on the way home to get another glimpse of a Snowy Owl. When I arrived a Snowy was on a shipping container, and moved to a sign, and then back to a field. The movement wasn't because of people bothering the owl, but because a Northern Harrier was about. While I was there it started to snow, so I got some interesting footage.
I went back to Brooklyn on Saturday to look for the Snowy Owls. (There is actually more than one.) A Snowy Owl was about 35 yards from where I had seen one last weekend in Brooklyn. Nice to get additional looks at it. It flew out of the grass around the same time as last week and into the same general direction.
I would encourage everyone to look at some of the discussions on the New York State Birding listserver. Simple questions about the ethics of watching Snowy Owls and the reason they're down south has raised more questions than answers. The discussion however is great. There have been some great tips about how to educate other birders watchers and photographers in a constructive way, in addition to some references to some current scientific literature.
A number of Snowy Owls are in the New York Area this Thaksgiving weekend. I caught up with one in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon.
(Care needs to be given to not stress these owls. If you're not familiar with the etiquette around how to observe owls, please take some time to research how to behave around them before you go looking for them.)
I'm glad that our beloved hawks in Washington Square Park, are leading to a more general understanding of the risks raptors face in their daily lives. Be it secondary poisonings due to rat poisons or collision fatalities. These issues need as much publicity as possible. Thanks for the article Nat Geo!