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.