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Coyote on Sunday

The Central Park Coyote was hard to spot over the last few days.  On Friday, we only saw footprints in the fresh snow.  On Saturday, I didn't see it.

On Sunday, I only saw it for only a few minutes.  It exited the hole in the northern section of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary fence and headed toward the west around 6:45 p.m.  The Coyote got spooked by some people, so it immediately came back to Hallett and then finally left for good about five minutes later.






Two Hawk Mothers

Lola and Charlotte are the nicknames given two female hawks around Central Park who have been mothers in the past.   Both hawks were getting ready for the next nesting season on Sunday

Lola, the lighter of the two hawks, was busy soaring around the Fifth Avenue nest and working on tidying it up.  She will most likely lay eggs mid-March.

Charlotte, who nests at 888 Seventh Avenue, was seen eating a pigeon and chasing of a juvenile hawk up at the Sheep Meadow.  She generally lays eggs a few weeks after Lola.

Both females have had nesting issues these last few years.  May they both have a successful year in 2010.












Rabies Continues In Raccoon Population

Rabies continues to spread among the Central Park Raccoon population.  52 raccoons tested positive for rabies city wide in the last two months, with most being in the park.  Please use common sense with these raccoons.  On Saturday, I had to stop a father from letting his son feed a raccoon and had to warn a photographer to keep his distance from a raccoon out in the daylight.

The Parks Department staff put up warning signs in the Ramble and the North Woods in English at the start of the epidemic.  Looking at the distribution map of the last few months, maybe they should consider putting up multilingual warning signs at every park entrance.

The Health Department reminds us that the last New York City rabies case in a human was in the 40s, so there is no need to panic.  Both the Bronx and Staten Island have had rabies outbreaks in raccoons in recent years without humans getting infected.  That said, the Health Department still recommends taking basic precautions against getting our pets or ourselves infected.








Coyote In The Snow

I saw the Coyote for only a few minutes on Thursday evening while the weather switched between snow and rain.  The Coyote certainly does not like being near people.  If it sees you looking in its direction, it instantly moves away.  This bodes well for the Coyote.  If it can stay out of people's way, there should be no need to remove it from the park.

I'm always surprised when people don't expect there to be nature in New York City.  Given the expansion of Coyotes in the eastern United States, it was only a mater of time before we got another one wandering into Central Park.

If I look at my ancestors in America, they started as rural farmers, then moved to towns and then cities.  (Ironically my first ancestors, which date back from the 1640s, were from what is now Brooklyn.) The towns protected them from wild animals and as they moved to cities there was this added artificial concept of a "man-made world", separate from the natural world.

The natural world never really left, but an illusion was created that nature had been tamed, as though somehow animals were as controlled as the city's landscaped gardens.

When we have a Red-tailed Nest (the Trump Parc nest was only 300 yards from the Coyote), a Wild Turkey or a Great Horned Owl in the city, it makes news. While the wild animals captivate us, what really seems to excite us is the realization that despite our best efforts to create a "man-made world", we're still really living in the "natural world".








Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

My photos and videos of the Central Park Coyote have generated lots of email.  They have mostly been about what to do with the Coyote. The emails I've gotten have basically fallen into three categories, Shoot It, Move It or Leave It.

An interesting article in Scientific American (just for full disclosure, a division of the company I work for) details recent studies of Coyote populations in suburban and urban areas.  It turns out they aren't so bad, if you don't feed them or leave your pets outdoors.

A very nice PDF has been created by the Cook County Coyote Project.  It explains the results of an extensive study of the Chicago area population of Coyotes by Dr. Stanley Gehrt of The Ohio State University.

As wild mammals and raptors reclaim our urban areas, they bring with them new urban wildlife management issues.  It's fascinating to see how unprepared our local governments are for these arrivals.

I went looking for the Coyote tonight and missed seeing it.  However, others did see it.  There are two ends of the Hallett Sanctuary fence.  One end is near Gapstow bridge.  The other end is near Sixth Avenue and the Coyote can exit by walking over a small dam without getting wet.  I had staked out the wrong end of the fence tonight!

Update: Robert Sullivan (author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants) wrote a nice piece for the Intelligencer column of the March 8th issue of New York Magazine about this evening. 

Don't Feed The Coyote!

Coyote Continues In Central Park

I'm back from vacation and went by The Pond in the southeast corner of the park after dark looking for the Coyote.  Other than my sighting up at The Pool, most of the other sightings have been from this location.   The Pond is steps away from The Plaza Hotel, Bergdorf Goodman and the flagship NYC Apple store.

To the west of The Pond is Hallett Nature Sanctuary.  This is an area free of the presence of dogs and humans. It would be a perfect place for the Coyote to sleep during the day and was the favorite spot of the 2006 Coyote, Hal.

As luck would have it, I had chosen the right spot and time.  The Coyote came out onto the ice four times.  It played with a bottle, went after some ducks, and eventually disappeared.  It seemed quite shy, hiding in the sanctuary between forays onto the ice.

I frown on giving wild animals or birds names.  But if this new Coyote needs a name, rather than giving it a name like Hal II or Hal Jr., I vote for Urbana as an homage to Arthur C. Clarke and 2001.  It retains a reference to Hal(lett) and includes Urban in the name.










London Peregrine Falcon Pair

I'm in London on a business trip without my birding equipment, however I had a pleasant experience with a pair of Peregrine Falcons just the same on Saturday afternoon.

I'm staying in a hotel with a view of the British Library and the St. Pancras train station.  As I was waiting for the elevator, a Peregrine flew within twenty feet of the hotel.  After a few minutes, it flew back and perched on St. Pancras's clock tower.

I left the hotel and went in search of the Peregrine.  I couldn't find it, but after about ten minutes saw a Peregrine fly towards a construction crane at Kings Cross.  It landed on top of another Peregrine and they copulated.  The male then returned to the St. Pancras clock tower.

Londoners were like many New Yorkers, that Saturday afternoon.  Other than myself, no one seemed to be aware that birds of prey were in the area, as they rushed to get their trains or the underground.






Central Park Coyote

A coyote has been seen in Central Park this week.  Tonight, it wandered across the ice of The Pool, which is in the northwest corner of the park up at 102nd Street east of Central Park West.

There were Park Enforcement Police chasing after it.  Given how they were chasing the coyote (from their cars!), it should stay free for quite awhile.


Rolling around in the snow on top of the ice covered waters of The Pool.