Another Three Raptor Day

Central Park has been very quiet this winter.  Birds number are low, and many of our standard winter species are hard to find.  But three species of raptors, are consistently being seen, Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper's Hawks and Peregrine Falcons.

The park has a number of Cooper's Hawks, mostly juveniles spending the winter.  On Friday, two were working the Evodia Field feeders.  One of them caught a sparrow.  While eating it, the other tried to steal the food without success.

On my way north, I ran into Pale Male sunning outside the Maintenance bathrooms.  Central Park had no fledglings last year. The pair at 95th Street/CPW lost their young about two weeks after they hatched and the adult female died.  Pale Male and Octavia, who were not seen copulating last year, did not have their eggs hatch.  And the pair on the San Remo, laid eggs without a nest yet again.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens this year.  There definitely are three adult pairs of hawks in the park, with possibly a forth (59th and Fifth Avenue) or fifth pair (north of Mount Sinai).  After Valentine's Day, we should be seeing lots of copulation and nest building activity.  Let's hope we have at least one successful pair this year.  Keep an eye out for activity over the next eight weeks.

Further north, the lone Peregrine Falcon that has been on the El Dorado, was there yet again. 

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From December to January

Two wonderful birds, seen in December have stayed for the New Year in the north of Central Park.  An immature Red-Headed Woodpecker at 98th and the West Drive and a Green-Winged Teal, which was first seen on the Harlem Meer, rediscovered on the Reservoir on the Christmas Bird Count, and is now hanging out on the The Pool at 102nd Street.  It is nice they have stayed. 

They aren't rare birds for the New York area, but they are infrequent visitors to Central Park.  So, it's nice to be able to have more than just a brief look at them both.  The woodpecker continues to dig out cavities and cache acorns, while the teal, seems happy to hang out with the Mallards.

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Red-headed Woodpecker

For about a week a Red-headed Woodpecker has been reported in Central Park.  I finally got a chance to see it on Saturday.  Like most of the Red-headed Woodpeckers we get in Manhattan, it is an immature bird, without a red head.  It has selected a stand of oak trees west of ball field number 2 in the North Meadow and east of light W9802.  (If you don't know the "secret code" of the park street lights, this decodes as W=West Drive, 98=98th Street, 02=the second street light in the block.)

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities and then store nuts in them.  If this one behaves like ones we've had in previous years, it should be fun to watch this activity through the winter.

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Purple Gallinule

A Purple Gallinule was found on the north shore of Turtle Pond in Central Park this morning and created quite a sensation among Manhattan's birding community.  The juvenile bird worked the shoreline and gave birders great views from a short distance. The species is normally found in Florida and South Carolina, but is known to wonder, showing up on occasion in all the eastern states and many Canadian provinces.  The word gallinule comes from the Latin "gallina," meaning small hen.

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Lark Sparrow

My 201st bird for Central Park was a Lark Sparrow today.  It had been found yesterday afternoon, and was seen again this morning.  It was then refound by Kellie Quinones in the afternoon.  Rare on the east coast, and especially rare for Central Park, it was a fantastic bird to see as it ate grass seeds by a soccer goal.  It was hanging out with two Dark-eyed Juncos.  The fun was interrupted by an American Kestrel on the hunt.  Luckily, none of the birds we were watching became a meal.

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Tennessee Warbler

On Saturday, a very cooperative Tennessee Warbler was easily photographed in the Wildflower Meadow in the North End of Central Park.  What a stunning warbler!  (The video is at half speed to make it easier to watch the warbler.)

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Clay-colored Sparrow

I'm finally catching up with processing images I took last weekend.  Here is a Clay-colored Sparrow south of the Great Hill in Central Park.

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American Bittern

A very cooperative American Bittern was in the fenced in area of the Tupelo Meadow in Central Park's Ramble today.  For the most part it perched on a rock and stayed still.  But for about ten minutes, after a Cooper's Hawk flew into the Tupelo Tree the American Bittern took a defensive posture, and for a brief time looked radically different almost doubling in size.  The Cooper's Hawk soon forgot about the Bittern and after about twenty minutes caught a Northern Flicker.

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Jewelweed

The Jewelweed is in full bloom and is attracting two birds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  The huge patch in Strawberry Fields is gone, but large patches are in The Oven (an area of the Ramble off The Lake) and in the Loch of the North Woods.  With some patience you will find both species of birds this time of year, if you find the Jewelweed patches.

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Ramble Red-tailed Hawk

A young Adult Red-tailed Hawk was hanging around the Evodia Field in Central Park's Ramble on Tuesday afternoon.  As fall migration heats up, we should see more and more visitors in Central Park.  A Northern Flicker, American Robins and a Gray Squirrel can be heard on the video's soundtrack.

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Young Red-tailed Hawk

On Thursday afternoon a young Red-tailed Hawk was eating a squirrel on a rock south of the Azalea Pond in Central Park's Ramble.  It is an interesting bird with one red tail feather.  We usually see the brown tail feathers of a juvenile change one by one over the summer to adult red feathers, so this one red feather is unusual.

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Odds and Ends

My visit to Central Park on Wednesday yielded some interesting birds. 

  • I photographed the leucistic (a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes) Common Grackle that has been well documented and visits the bird feeders in the Ramble daily.
  • Watched the Rusty Blackbird in The Loch in the northern end of the park.
  • Photographed a neck banded Canada Goose at The Pond, numbered Y3T4, with white letters on orange.  Looking at my photographs, I discovered it was with another banded goose, X3A9.  I've reported the band numbers, so I should hear back in a few weeks as to where these birds were banded, and possibly why.

Update:  A Facebook reader commented that I might have best used the term Piebald rather than Leucistic for the Common Grackle.  Here's an interesting link about when to use each, from The Spruce: Bird Leucism.

Update 2:  Got the banding information back.
Band Number: 1078-14416 Y3T4
Banded: 07/02/2013
Species: CANADA GOOSE
Age of Bird: WAS TOO YOUNG TO FLY WHEN BANDED IN 2013
Sex: MALE
Location: VARENNES, QUÉBEC, CANADA
Bander: JEAN RODRIGUE QC-SCF-SAUVAGINE 801-1550 D'ESTIMAUVILLE QUEBEC QC G1J 0C3

Update 3:  I got an email from Michael Castellano that he saw the neck banded geese in Prospect Park on February 3rd.

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Mandarin Duck

New York City's most famous, escaped pet continued to do well on The Pond in Central Park.  It's fame seems to have subsided and for the most part the shoreline of The Pond has thankfully, returned to normal. 

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Great Blue Heron

This afternoon I watched a Great Blue Heron walk on the ice of both The Pool and the Harlem Meer at the northern end of Central Park.  Just like humans, the bird occasionally slipped on the ice.  A few Great Blue Herons spend the winter in New York City.  If I could fly, I would certainly fly to a warmer climate!

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Peregrine Falcons Hunt

On Tuesday afternoon, I got to see the Peregrine Falcon pair perched in their regular spot near the No. 28/Gothic Bridge.  The female hunted and caught a pigeon mid-air in under a minute.  Peregrine Falcons are deadly hunters!  The pigeon took much longer to eat, around 25 minutes.

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Peregrine Falcons

The pair of Peregrine Falcons seem to be a regular fixture in a tree on the northwest shore of the Reservoir in Central Park on sunny afternoons.  This easy to watch perch is going to make a lot of birders and photographers very happy this winter.

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