A Barred Owl has been in Central Park for at least two days. I caught up with it on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, there was a bit of a standoff between it and a Cooper's Hawk.
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.
For the last few days, a Bald Eagle has been seen in Riverside Park. It was reported again today around 116th Street. I went up to have a look and at first didn't see it, but it flew over me at around 114th Street before perching near a Red-tailed Hawk at 108th Street. The Red-tailed Hawk left it alone for awhile but then took a pass at the Bald Eagle, coming within a foot of the eagle. The Red-tailed Hawk landed nearby but then flew up to a branch a few feet higher than the eagle. They then had a standoff for at least an hour.
The Red-tailed Hawk eventually left and the Bald Eagle flew down to 95th and the Hudson River's edge. It stayed for about half an hour before flying back north.
Eagles nest all up and down the Hudson River Valley. In the winter, when the river freezes, they end up as a large group around Croton-On-Hudson, New York, where the tides break up the ice making it easy to catch fish. It is not uncommon to see over 80 Eagles in the Croton area in the winter. When there is ice on the river, the eagles ride the tidal ice flows from Croton to Manhattan.
So, while we don't see eagles much in Manhattan, this is the perfect time to be on the lookout for them. The colder it gets, the better chance you'll have to see one!
I saw the Peregrine Falcon, while up watching the two Snow Geese on the Reservoir. The falcon was in one of its favorite trees for at least an hour. It got harassed by six American Crows. I left to go look for a Wood Duck on The Pool before returning to look for the Peregrine Falcon on the El Dorado. I stayed late to see if it would roost on the south face of the south tower, but it took off after sunset going south southwest and was quickly out of view. This falcon is going to be hard to figure out!
I went looking for the Peregrine Falcon today, and saw it leave the "picnic table perch" on the north tower of the El Dorado and fly to the south tower. On the south face, near the top it perched for over an hour in the warmth of the setting afternoon sun.
On the north tower of the El Dorado Apartments (300 Central Park West), there is an air conditioner in the left/right center of the tower about a quarter of the way down. The Peregrine Falcon which likes to hang out by the reservoir, uses this AC unit as picnic table. In the photographs, you can see the remains of a Rock Pigeon. So, if you're looking for the Peregrine Falcon and don't see it in the trees by the Gothic Bridge, take a look up at the El Dorado.
I finally caught up with the Peregrine Falcon that likes to sun on the north edge of the Reservoir in Central Park for the first time this winter. We had a pair in the same tree last year, and a single Peregrine the year before. This one was very vocal. I couldn't see what it was concerned about, but if it was like last year, it was most likely a Red-tailed Hawk.
It's nice to have the Peregrine back. The low tree branch the bird perches in gives great looks at the bird.
It's been cold enough that owls will soon be migrating through Central Park, so I always look at a set of pines in the Arthur Ross Pinetum this time of year. I heard a squirrel cry, and instead of an owl I found this young Cooper's Hawk, who quickly went after a bird and made a meal of it.
Governors Island is now open after dark on Fridays and Saturdays, so I went in search of bats on Saturday. I saw and recorded echolocations from two Eastern Red Bats at Nolan Park around 8:15-8:45 p.m.
Earlier in the daylight, I enjoyed views of the Yellow Crowned Night Heron nest, Killdeer and Common Terns. I was also able to see the three young Peregrine Falcons and their mother at 55 Water Street.
The Common Terns nest on two of the piers, Lima and Tango. NYC Audubon is encouraging Common Terns to nest on the Lima Pier this year and has put up three decoys. It took me awhile to realize there were decoys and I had to subtract three Terns from my eBirds checklist.
They piers are named after their shapes, L, T and Y, which in the NATO alphabet become, Lima, Tango and Yankee. The Yankee pier, which now only is half a Y, is in active use by the Brooklyn bound ferry.
In addition to the birds on Memorial Day weekend, there was a military ship being guarded by the Coast Guard across Buttermilk Channel and a few military plane and helicopter flyovers.
I made a detour on my way back from Randalls Island to Riverside Church to see how the Peregrine Falcons were doing. It was a bit too early to see the youngsters, but I did get to see the mother outside of the nest and saw the father flying around the church.
This afternoon I was lucky to film a food delivery to The Century Apartments by the Peregrine Falcon male. (Because the scrape is in a gutter, it is impossible to see it from the street.)
I went up to see how the Red-tailed Hawks were doing up at 95th and Central Park West. I've heard the female found a new mate over the winter and I went up to see if they were rebuilding the old nest. I didn't see any sign of them, but I have seen two adult Red-tailed Hawks a bit further north this winter around The Pool. I know the Fifth Avenue, Tompkins Square and Washington Square Park hawks are doing fine. I'd be happy to get feedback on other nests, especially any nests north of Central Park.
Having come up empty, I went over to the No. 28 Bridge and saw the Peregrine Falcon female sitting in her usual roost. She left before I could get my camera out. I then found a falcon on a terrace railing of the north tower of the El Dorado. I thought it was the female, but discovered it was the male after he made a pass at the highest air conditioner on the tower, where the female was eating a pigeon. She made a cry as if to say, "I'm not sharing." This was the first time I've seen them on the El Dorado, and it was nice to find a spot where they eat. From the looks of the air conditioner, it looks to be the site of many meals.
Update 2/11/19: I received a report from a resident of 350 Central Park West that visits were made to the Red-tailed Hawk nest Monday morning. Great News!
The air conditioner is marked by the light circle on the right hand tower.
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.
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.
On Wednesday, I got to see two Peregrine Falcons in a tree just south of the No. 28 Bridge (aka Gothic Bridge), SW of the Reservoir's North Gate House. Last winter a single falcon would hang out in this tree during the afternoons, so it was wonderful to see a pair this year in the exact same spot. In Manhattan, we usually see Peregrine Falcons perched high on a building, so seeing these two birds in a tree was a special treat.
Sometimes you get to see something magical when birding. Today, I got to see a Cooper's Hawk make three amazing swift turns and catch a Tufted Titmouse in midair. It was too sudden to catch with my camera. I did however get to record the meal being eaten.
Today, I caught up with one of two Red-shouldered Hawks that's been in Central Park. This bird is in the same family, Buteo, as Red-tailed Hawks. We first saw the Red-shouldered Hawk at Turtle Pond. It then went just south of the Obelisk (a.k.a. Cleopatra's Needle). After about twenty minutes it then went to Cedar Hill before we lost it. In searching for it we found Pale Male, America's most famous Red-tailed Hawk. I've included him in the pictures so, you can compare these two species from the same family.
The Merlin that has been hanging around the Great Lawn this December, was eating what looked like a Tufted Titmouse this afternoon. It was fun to watch it fan its tail to help keep its balance while eating.
Located in Central Park's Ramble, the Evodia Field has the only sanctioned bird feeders in the park. They are supported by great volunteers. Indirectly, they end up feeding one or two Cooper's Hawks who enjoy the buffet of sparrows and similarly sized birds during the winter. One young Cooper's Hawk in particular is enjoying the easy pickings this Fall.
A Merlin, an medium sized Falcon, has been hanging around the Great Lawn for about a week. It seems to have a lot of enemies. It was hassled by an American Kestrel, a Red-tailed Hawk and some Blue Jays all within a few minutes while I was watching it.
On Saturday, at dusk those watching the Barred Owl got a special treat. A Cooper's Hawk came in and harassed the Barred Owl. There was calling by both birds, which included the strange Cooper's Hawk sounds. After this the Barred Owl went to a low branch giving everyone great looks.
The Barred Owl watchers were well behaved and kept quiet. All of a sudden we and the owl heard loud clapping. It turns out that while we were looking at the owl, an Italian couple got engaged! It is Central Park not a nature preserve, so other things do happen!
The fun continued as the Barred Owl flew to an Oak Tree and went after squirrels. It didn't seem to get them, but they are in its view all day so I guess it's worth a try. I've seen a Great Horned Owl exhibit similar behavior. So, just when I think I understand the fly out behavior, the owl or in this case a Cooper's Hawk mixes things up.
I caught up with Pale Male just north of the Obelisk on Sunday, and then a young Cooper's Hawk eating a bird a bit further north. Nice to see that are starting to get some visiting raptors to the park.
Hints of spring are in the air. The park has some Snowdrops and Forsythia in bloom and the city's Red-tails have begun to copulate. Today, I caught up with a Cooper's Hawk, and both of the Fifth Avenue Hawks, Octavia and Pale Male.
I started my raptor watching in the North Woods and then worked my way around the reservoir. My first raptor was a Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk at the Wildflower meadow, who then flew around the Compost Heap. Then it was off to the reservoir, where a Peregrine Falcon has been seen for the last few days near the North Gate House. Then after looking at the nice selection of waterfowl using the open areas of reservoir, I ran into two adult hawks at the South Gate House. By then it was too dark to I.D. the hawks, but it looked like one of them was an intruder and the other was either Pale Male or Octavia.
Today, I got to watch two lovely Peregrine Falcon Fledglings, on the Precipice Cliffs, at Acadia National Park in Maine. The had fledged a few day earlier. They clearly aren't Urban Hawks, but were fun to watch just the same!
The young Peregrine Falcons on Central Park West are big enough to see finally. I saw two of them on Saturday and both the parents. My understanding is there might be a third youngster.
The pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on the The Century on lower Central Park West supposedly have three chicks this year. I studied them for an hour and only saw signs of a parent. I suspect I'll need to make a number of visits to see the youngsters.
I went to Central Park South tonight to figure out where the Sheep Meadow Red-tailed Hawk pair have relocated only to see the male briefly at 64th and Fifth Avenue. I saw them copulate last week by Tavern on the Green, but that was the last time I saw the female. So, this is still a mystery. If anyone has figured it out, please let me know.
While looking for the Red-tails, I saw The Century Peregrine Falcons again on Central Park West. They were on both The Century and the Zeckendorf buildings.
Thanks to some great detective work by Melody Andres, we now know that both the Grant's Tomb (1) nest at 123rd Street and Riverside Drive and the 116th Street and Riverside Drive nest (2) are both active with two different pairs of hawks. These are close by to a Peregrine Falcon scrape (3) at Riverside Church, and close to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine nest site (4).
I had always thought Manhattan Hawk and Peregrine nests were like a checkerboard, with each taking different squares, but these three nests are so close together that it defies all that I had believed about nest positioning in the city.
116th Street and Riverside Drive
Two years ago, a Peregrine Falcon nest box was installed on The Century building at 25 Central Park West. It was installed by the owners without permission of the Coop board on a landmarked building without a permit. At the time, I thought it was outrageous that the owners of the apartment then cried foul, knowing full well that they had intentionally gone behind the back of the Coop, which at the time was having the facade repaired. The box was removed that year by the Coop.
So, I was upset today seeing what must be the same pair hanging out on both towers of The Century today. The falcons certainly seem to be planning on using the same ledge a scrape this year. I hope either the city DEP or state DEC can get involved and mediate a solution. It would be great if this Peregrine Falcon pair could be supported somehow, while the regulations of both the Coop and city's building department are both respected.
I spent the weekend trying to figure out what was happening with our three pairs of hawks in Central Park.
- The Sheep Meadow pair continue to be seen in the SE corner of the park, but don't seem to have settled on a nesting location just yet.
- The pair that tried to nest on the Beresford last year, are bringing twigs to the Beresford and San Remo this year.
- Pale Male and Octavia are doing just fine. Pale Male gave Octavia a long break on Sunday afternoon.
- A Merlin was a nice extra bonus near the band shell.
It was sixty degrees in Central Park today. The Great Horned Owl continued to be present and an Accipiter, either a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen nearby.
After the fly out of the Owl, it cleaned its talons and then broke off a branch and chewed on it. This has happened on previous nights. I've looked for any mention of this behavior on the internet and haven't found anything that gives a clue about the reason for this interesting behavior.
This afternoon started a little slow. The Great Horned Owl was in usual spot around 2:30, and I was thinking what am I going to do until fly out at dusk? Luckily, a mature Cooper's Hawk arrived and the owl decided to fly over to it to show it "who was boss". Then the Cooper's Hawk started calling and decided to try and show the owl who was boss. They ended up shifting from perch to perch a few times. There was no contact and it just a lot of bluster but fun to watch.
The Cooper's Hawk left but returned about an hour later to make it's presence known. This time the owl just ignored it.
While preening, the owl broke off a branch and chewed on it. It might have been using it to clean it's beak. It was hard to tell.
Central Park was delightful this afternoon. After visiting the reservoir to see the Ring Necked Duck that's been hanging around the southeast corner, I found a Peregrine Falcon perched on the south tower of The Eldorado.
Soon after, I found a Red-tailed Hawk in the Pinetum, who was joined by a second hawk. They circled over Seneca Village before moving out of sight.
My last bird of the day was the Great Horned Owl that has now been in the park for three weeks.
At the top of a tall pine this afternoon by the 79th Street Transverse north of the maintenance building, was an American Kestel eating what looked to be a house sparrow. This small falcon is one of New York City's most beautiful birds.
The fall and winter months bring Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks to the park. On Halloween day, it was a Cooper's Hawk that I saw in Central Park. An immature bird that was born this year.
I took a look at Riverside Church to see if the young Peregrine Falcons were visible. There was no sign of them. I was probably a week or two early, but did get to see one of the parents visit the scrape and then leave.
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.
Red-shouldered Hawk aren't at all unusual in New York City, but we only see them a few times a year in Central Park, so this was another nice winter surprise.
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.
In the fall, raptors migrate over Central Park in great numbers when the winds are right. Last weekend, I watched hawks from the Belvedere Castle terrace. Among the raptors seen were a Broad-winged Hawk and Juvenile Bald Eagle.
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.
Before leaving on vacation, I made a brief visit to the park on December 26th. In my brief visit, I had a Barred Owl, a Coopers Hawk and Pale Male.
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.
On a gray late Fall day, a visit to Central Park yielded a few Cooper's Hawks, two Barred Owls and a few Red-tailed Hawks. Let's hope the Barred Owls stay for the Christmas Bird count, Sunday, December 16th.