When the Hudson River is frozen upstate and ice floes form, wintering Bald Eagles ride the ice up and down the lower Hudson. With the cold weather we've been having, conditions are near perfect to see eagles from the Dyckman Fishing Pier in the southwest corner of Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan. Today, we saw three adults and five juveniles drift by the pier. Locals say the best times to watch are early in the morning from 8 to 10 a.m.
I went up to Ulster County, NY to see the Gyrfalcon that has around for a few weeks. The bird, which depending on the day has been easy to find or hard to find, was very cooperative today.
In addition to the Gyrfalcon, I was able to photograph a Short-eared Owl. Definitely worth driving for four hours!
There is a Peregrine nest box on the northern building of the Manhattan Psychiatric Center complex on Randalls Island. Both resident Peregrines were perched near the nest box at dusk on Saturday. While I was getting my camera gear out to photograph them, one took off and the other had moved to a new perch to eat prey.
On Sunday, I got to see the Peregrines again. The youngsters were out on a ledge and an adult was watching over them. The eyasses wings are now more fully developed and they look great. During my visit a partially eaten bird was retrieved and feed to the eyasses. It's nice to be able to watch them so easily.
I'm a little late to the party, since these Peregrines have been on The Century for three years. But I was overjoyed to see the parents and their two eyasses on Saturday. The Century is located at 25 Central Park West between 62nd and 63rd Streets.
The nest box is on the eastern side of the south tower. For news about the hatching of the two eyasses, see The West Side Rag and the Gothamist.
(I am concerned about a picture in The West Side Rag. The pebbles in the nest box are much larger than the gravel traditionally used in nest boxes. Given that only two of four eggs hatched this year, the owners of the box might want to switch to a gravel approved for nest box use before next season.)
Finally a warm day, in the high 40's to watch birds in Central Park. The cold was getting a bit old. My day started with a Cooper's Hawk, and then some fun song birds at the feeders in the Ramble. It ended with two Long-eared Owls, one of which had an adventure with a gray squirrel and coughed up a pellet.
Today was a nice day in Central Park. I had the two Red-tailed hawks trying to establish a nest on CPW, (now working on a nest on 322 CPW.) Then a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the American Museum of Natural History followed by Sharp-shinned Hawk in the Evodia Field.
My next stop was Fifth Avenue, where Octavia is now brooding. Pale Male was tending to the nest (rearranging twigs as is his habit) and she returned to the nest.
A quick walk down to Central Park South uncovered one Red-tailed hawk there. Seven hawks, not too bad for a brief afternoon visit to the park.
Despite all of time I've spent looking at owls, I have been keeping an eye out for Pale Male. Today, I started my birding near Pale Male's nest. My first views were of a Cooper's Hawk chasing some European Starlings.
Then Pale Male arrived. He broke off a tree branch and took it to the nest. He then perched a little south of the nest on a fence, then a water tank and then a railing. He kept looking south. I think his new mate may be spending her time below 72nd Street.
I spent time watching American Crows, waterfowl and American Kestrels on Saturday and watched Pale Male on Sunday. The Harlem Meer had a nice selection of birds, including Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Wood Ducks, and a Mute Swan.
Sandy made a mess of the park, and there are still sections closed. The clean up may take longer than usual as resources are being sent to hard hit areas of NYC rather than Central Park. Sadly entitled Upper East and West siders are complaining about how they suffered because they can't walk their dogs in the park or use the bypass road in the north of the park, which is now a staging area for the clean up. Get a life folks!
This afternoon in Washington Square was fun. Both hawks were very easy to find and for the first time, I got to see the nearby Peregrine Falcon in detail. The Peregrine Falcon is a juvenile and may be roosting on 100 Bleecker Street, an I. M. Pei designed, International Style building used for NYU faculty housing.
Bobby roosted on MacDougal street building this evening. It's a noisy perch, but does have a view of 100 Bleecker!
On Saturday, I explored the park looking for raptors. My first was a Merlin falcon on a water tank on top of the Lincoln Correctional Facility on 110th Street. It was chased away by a mob of Crows. Later, I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting, although it was too fast to photograph. As I ended my walk, I saw the female Red-tailed Hawk, Lima on a 5th Avenue building around 77th Street.
Everyone was expecting the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcons to have fledged by now, but they were still all there when I visited on Thursday. I was very surprised to see five youngsters still at the scrape!
(It received an email late tonight that one of the falcons fledged after I left. So, two species of Raptors had fledges on the same day just block apart.)
With the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcon parents have fledglings, expect a few territorial disputes between the St. John the Divine Red-tailed Hawk parents.
Today, I discovered that it's not just a single Peregrine Falcon that has been hanging out on the Eldorado towers, but a pair. One was on the north towe and the other on the south tower, before one moved to a ledge lower down on the building.
(Pale Male has been spending time just below the Reservoir. I wonder if he's keeping an eye on these new neighbors?)
On Saturday, my late afternoon visit to Central Park started with a Peregrine Falcon on top of the southern tower of The Eldorado on Central Park West.
It ended with my standard visit to the North Wood's Eastern Screech-Owl. I got a glimpse at what might be a band on her, although it was hardly certain.
The annual Central Park Christmas Bird Count was on Sunday. It's a great event that brings together the Urban Park Rangers, the Parks Department, Audubon NYC and lots of amateur birders to take a census of the birds wintering in the park.
After a series of bad weather counts with snow, rain or bitterly cold temperatures, this count had enjoyable, if chilly weather.
The day before, I looked for the two unusual birds that have been around, the Varied Thrush and a young Red-Headed Woodpecker (which at this age, has yet to get a red head.) Along the way I had nice looks at a Cooper's hawk.
On Sunday, I joined the Northeast team. Highlights for me were a Carolina Wren and young Red-tailed Hawk at Mount Sinai Hospital. After our counting was done, our team saw a Merlin in the Northwest team's area, I saw a young Red-tail being harrased by Pale Male at 63rd and Fifth, and at dusk I watched the park's surviving Eastern Screech-Owl's fly out.
The count had 62 species of birds, including birds from the count week. There are lots of birds in Central Park, even in the winter! The count had 11 Red-tailed Hawks, 9 Cooper's Hawks, 2 Merlins, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, and 1 Eastern Screech-Owl.
This youngster was in the Loch on Sunday. This is a tough period for many young hawks. They're on their own for the first time, and those that haven't mastered hunting are in a real battle for their lives. After nest and fledging accidents, this is a peak time for rehabbers, who get lots of undernourished youngsters in the Fall.
I've been away on weekends, and it's too dark in the late afternoon to visit Riverside Park after work, so I haven't been able to visit until this Saturday.
While I was away I received reports of the youngster being at the ballfields by the dumpsters south of the Boat Basin, and further north in the 90's and 100's. The youngster's being outside of the parent's territory is a great sign that it's growing up!
When I visited Saturday, I only found the two parents. They were together on a water tower at 81st and Riverside, and both few off towards the south. I found one, perching on various lamp posts above the highway.
I went looking for the youngster, without any luck. As I left the park, I saw a bird perched on a building at 90th and Broadway. I was hoping it was the youngster, but found that it was a Peregrine Falcon, a nice consolation prize.