I'm sorry to report that smallest of the Green Heron hatchlings has died. Cal Vornberger, the gifted wildlife photographer and author/photographer of Birds of Central Park, witnessed the death and has a compelling set of photographs on his blog, www.calvorn.com. Cal has put together a slide show of the photographs at http://www.calvorn.com/herons.html.
On Sunday afternoon, the weather cleared and I made a visit to Morningside Park. The two fledglings were found playing with sticks at the southern edge of the park. Stick play is common for fledglings of this age and prepares them for hunting and killing prey.
The fledglings moved from tree to tree along 110th Street and lower Morningside Drive for over an hour. Although, we didn't witness any feedings there was a large pile of fresh pigeon feathers beneath a tree near the southern children's play area.
On late Saturday afternoon, there was a break between rain storms to go up to St. John the Divine. The fledglings are now good fliers, so finding them is difficult. I found one at the top of a tree 20 feet inside Morningside park, east of the nest site on the Cathedral.
While looking for the second fledgling, I saw one of the fledglings, not sure which one, soaring from 110th Street up to 118th Street above Morningside Drive. It was an impressive sight.
Last year, the Central Park South fledglings learned to hunt before they took off and started to soar high with their father staying close by. So, I wasn't expecting to see a high flying St. John the Divine fledgling flying this high so early on. I keep being reminded that each nest and fledgling is different.
It's been raining in New York, so I was unable to go out birding on Friday. Today, there was a small window between rain showers to see how the Green Herons were doing. The hatchlings seem to be doing just fine, spending most of their time sleeping.
When I arrived the hatchlings were alone on the nest. A parent arrived after about twenty minutes, feed the chicks, and then tucked them in for the night.
For those who have been worried that the upcoming summer and fall construction projects in Central Park will interfere with the Green Heron nest, I wanted to pass along some good news. The Parks Department is fully aware of the Green Heron's nest and construction/gardening project timetables have been revised to minimize the impact on the area around the nest.
As birders and photographers, we also need to do our part. Those of us who know where the nest is located need to keep our distance and minimize our impact on herons. Although my pictures may look like I was close to the nest, I was about 150 feet away from the nest to minimize impact on the herons. Please stay a safe distance from the nest and keep the noise levels down when observing them.
Sunday, I went up to Morningside Park for about an hour around 7 p.m. I found Robert Schmunk, who blogs at bloomingdalevillage.blogspot.com with one of the fledglings at the base of the stairs that go up to 113th and Morningside Drive. The fledgling was only about 20 feet off the ground.
Now that we're birding in the lower portion of the park, we're meeting new folks from the neighborhood. They're beginning to get to know us and have begun to help us find the young hawks. Tonight, a kind gentleman pointed out the second fledgling in a willow tree over the small pond in the park.
The pond, which is smaller than an Olympic sized swimming pool, supports an amazing array of wildlife. Tonight it had a family of Geese, two Double-Crested Cormorants, a first year Black-Crowned Night Heron, and a few mallards.
Soon the hawk in the willow flies south to join its sibling over by the steps that led up to the Cathedral.
After a few minutes both hawks move east. One flies low and then goes over the fence at the east side of the park. The other lands in a tree just inside the park at 113th.
Robert and I both try and figure out where the young hawks have ended up. We're unsuccessful and both call it a night and go home.
I must say that the little heron chicks have me hooked. The first two pictures are from Saturday and the rest are from Sunday.
Please be careful not to disturb the herons if you visit the nest. A group of birders at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday made a great deal of noise and two of them walked down off the western path to within 15 feet of the nest. One of the parents, who had been feeding the young, puffed up to a large size, raised its crown and flew off the nest for 15 minutes. The parent didn't return to the nest and resume feeding until the birders left the area.
On Thursday evening, one of the Green Heron parents was still sitting on the nest, so I suspect the last chick hatched sometime on late Thursday evening/Friday morning. These pictures are from Saturday morning.
The parents have stopped sitting on the nest, so I think four is going to be our final hatchling count.
Early Friday evening, after a fruitless search for the fledglings, I got to see a Double-crested Cormorant catch a small catfish.
Just as I was about to give up and walk out of the park, I ran into a fledgling eating a pigeon just above the low west path that goes from 110th and Morningside Drive by the ball fields towards the pond.
On my way from the Green Herons to Morningside Park on Friday, I got to see Pale Male. He first flew around the Beresford, landed on some scaffolding, got harassed by another bird. He then perched lower on the building, and as I left the park went east being chased by the bird that had harassed him earlier.
There are four hatchlings on the Green Heron nest along Central Park's lake. The smallest one looks to have been born within the last day or two. More pictures later.
Better late than never, Central Park's nesting Green Herons have at least two new hatchlings on their nest.
My flight returned from Finland in time for me to spend the early evening up at Morningside Park.
It joined its sibling on a baseball backstop at the south end of Morningside Park. This area contains two baseball fields and is under renovation. It is currently fenced in and is a safe haven for the two fledglings.
Both fledglings are now confident fliers. When I left for vacation the younger bird had trouble gaining altitude and stayed close to the cathedral. They're now much better fliers and have increased their range considerably.
They're growing up but it still looks like their parents are feeding them. Hunting practice should begin soon. I'm also beginning to wonder when they'll be venturing off to Central Park for a visit to the North Woods?
I've just gotten back from ten days in Finland and Estonia. I spent most of my time with family, but couldn't resist taking a few bird photographs.