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.