Weekend In Central Park

I spent time watching American Crows, waterfowl and American Kestrels on Saturday and watched Pale Male on Sunday. The Harlem Meer had a nice selection of birds, including Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Wood Ducks, and a Mute Swan.

Sandy made a mess of the park, and there are still sections closed. The clean up may take longer than usual as resources are being sent to hard hit areas of NYC rather than Central Park.  Sadly entitled Upper East and West siders are complaining about how they suffered because they can't walk their dogs in the park or use the bypass road in the north of the park, which is now a staging area for the clean up.  Get a life folks!


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Bleecker Street Peregrine Falcon

I went looking for the Washington Square Red-tailed Hawks on Wednesday and came up empty.  However, I did find the Peregrine Falcon that hangs out at the top of 100 Bleecker Street.  I sure hope we have a Peregrine Falcon scrape next year in the Village.


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Washington Square

This afternoon in Washington Square was fun.  Both hawks were very easy to find and for the first time, I got to see the nearby Peregrine Falcon in detail.  The Peregrine Falcon is a juvenile and may be roosting on 100 Bleecker Street, an I. M. Pei designed, International Style building used for NYU faculty housing.

Bobby roosted on MacDougal street building this evening.  It's a noisy perch, but does have a view of 100 Bleecker!


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Continue reading "Washington Square" »


Merlin and Lima

On Saturday, I explored the park looking for raptors.  My first was a Merlin falcon on a water tank on top of the Lincoln Correctional Facility on 110th Street.   It was chased away by a mob of Crows.  Later, I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk hunting, although it was too fast to photograph.  As I ended my walk, I saw the female Red-tailed Hawk, Lima on a 5th Avenue building around 77th Street.


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Five At Riverside

Everyone was expecting the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcons to have fledged by now, but they were still all there when I visited on Thursday.  I was very surprised to see five youngsters still at the scrape!

(It received an email late tonight that one of the falcons fledged after I left.  So, two species of Raptors had fledges on the same day just block apart.)

With the Riverside Church Peregrine Falcon parents have fledglings, expect a few territorial disputes between the St. John the Divine Red-tailed Hawk parents.


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Eldorado Peregrines

Today, I discovered that it's not just a single Peregrine Falcon that has been hanging out on the Eldorado towers, but a pair.  One was on the north towe and the other on the south tower, before one moved to a ledge lower down on the building.

(Pale Male has been spending time just below the Reservoir.  I wonder if he's keeping an eye on these new neighbors?)


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Peregrine Falcon and Eastern Screech-Owl

On Saturday, my late afternoon visit to Central Park started with a Peregrine Falcon on top of the southern tower of The Eldorado on Central Park West.

It ended with my standard visit to the North Wood's Eastern Screech-Owl.  I got a glimpse at what might be a band on her, although it was hardly certain.


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For the last year, I've not had any sign that this owl is banded.  This one still frame from the video makes me feel she might be banded.


Snail Kite

The second bird I saw in SW Florida, also at Harns Marsh was a female Snail Kite.  She gave me goosebumps.  She was a great flier and snail hunter.


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Christmas Bird Count Weekend

The annual Central Park Christmas Bird Count was on Sunday.  It's a great event that brings together the Urban Park Rangers, the Parks Department, Audubon NYC and lots of amateur birders to take a census of the birds wintering in the park.

After a series of bad weather counts with snow, rain or bitterly cold temperatures, this count had enjoyable, if chilly weather.

The day before, I looked for the two unusual birds that have been around, the Varied Thrush and a young Red-Headed Woodpecker (which at this age, has yet to get a red head.)  Along the way I had nice looks at a Cooper's hawk.

On Sunday, I joined the Northeast team.  Highlights for me were a Carolina Wren and young Red-tailed Hawk at Mount Sinai Hospital.  After our counting was done, our team saw a Merlin in the Northwest team's area, I saw a young Red-tail being harrased by Pale Male at 63rd and Fifth, and at dusk I watched the park's surviving Eastern Screech-Owl's fly out.

The count had 62 species of birds, including birds from the count week.  There are lots of birds in Central Park, even in the winter!  The count had 11 Red-tailed Hawks, 9 Cooper's Hawks, 2 Merlins, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, and 1 Eastern Screech-Owl.


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Young Red-tailed Hawk

This youngster was in the Loch on Sunday.  This is a tough period for many young hawks.  They're on their own for the first time, and those that haven't mastered hunting are in a real battle for their lives.  After nest and fledging accidents, this is a peak time for rehabbers, who get lots of undernourished youngsters in the Fall.


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Cooper's Hawk

Late fall is a great time to Hawk Watch in New York City.  There are lots of migrants passing through and some may even stay for the winter.  Here's a Cooper's Hawk in Central Park.


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Merlin Continues

The Merlin that had been hanging out on top of a watertower on Central Park West between 101st and 102nd is still there.  On Tuesday, just like Sunday it caught dinner just before dusk.


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Merlin On Halloween

The pictures and video are of poor quality, but the find was exciting.  A Merlin was on top of a water tower on Central Park at 111th Street.  This small falcon was a fun find on a cold afternoon.


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Riverside Update

I've been away on weekends, and it's too dark in the late afternoon to visit Riverside Park after work, so I haven't been able to visit until this Saturday. 

While I was away I received reports of the youngster being at the ballfields by the dumpsters south of the Boat Basin, and further north in the 90's and 100's.  The youngster's being outside of the parent's territory is a great sign that it's growing up!

When I visited Saturday, I only found the two parents.  They were together on a water tower at 81st and Riverside, and both few off towards the south.  I found one, perching on various lamp posts above the highway.

I went looking for the youngster, without any luck.  As I left the park, I saw a bird perched on a building at 90th and Broadway.  I was hoping it was the youngster, but found that it was a Peregrine Falcon, a nice consolation prize.


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Nest Updates

A lot happened in Manhattan this past week:

Broadway Bridge Peregrines: Bonnie Talluto confirms the two eyasses are now fledglings.

Inwood Hill Park: Diane Schenker reports the nest has hatched.  She can see at least one eyass, but can't get a good count yet.

Highbridge Park: Mitchell Nusbaum reports the nest has fledged.

St. John the Divine: The surviving nestling fledged on Friday.

Riverside Park: The pair is sitting on their second clutch.

55 Water Street Peregrines: They've all fledged.


Broadway Bridge

I visited the scrape on Saturday afternoon.  The eyasses have matured a great deal since I last saw them.  They look like they should be ready to fledge by next weekend.

I've included some photographs of the bridge and the Harlem River.  I realized in my excitement over finding this year's scrape, I forgot to document the area.  Below the bridge are the Metro North Hudson River Line tracks and the Harlem River.  The bridge has two levels, an upper deck for the 1 subway train, and a lower deck for car traffic.


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More Broadway Bridge

I've become fascinated with the Broadway Bridge scrape.  It's the first time I've been able to watch young Peregrine Falcons in person.  It's a lot different than watching the 55 Water Street video feed.

Tonight there was a feeding by one of the parents, although it looks like the eyasses can pick at food by themselves.  I'm looking forward to watching this pair grow up and fledge.


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Broadway Bridge Peregrine Falcons

New York City has a large population of Peregrine Falcon's.  My favorite pair has a scrape on Broadway Bridge, easily accessible by the 1 subway train.  It's the Marble Hill-225th Street stop.  The bridge is a drawbridge over the Harlem River and allows you some of the closest views of Peregrine Falcons in the city.  This year, their scrape is situated so that you can see the eyasses being fed.  


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Yes, that is a dead bird blocking the drainage hole.


American Kestrel

While searching for a possible Red-tailed Hawk nest, I saw this American Kestrel at 133rd and Broadway.  It was a fun find, because I was able to I.D. it without binoculars based on its tail pump and silhouette.  As you have more experience as a birder, lots of little clues just start to click in automatically.

Now if I could only understand shorebirds...

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Christmas Bird Count

The annual Christmas Bird Count was held in Central Park.  The snow storm had tapered off just in time for a nice morning in the park. 

Counting in fresh snow was good exercise, although it kept the count numbers down. I birded the Northwest.  Highlights included a female Wood Duck and a Great Blue Heron (most likely the same bird Jack Meyer saw earlier in the week on the Lake).  Our group had two raptor species, a Cooper's Hawk and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.

An unusual species for the count was a Turkey Vulture, with multiple fly overs the park.  Speculation was that heavy snow forced the vultures south.  The Riverside Park count even had a Bald Eagle.  So the weather was a mixed blessing.

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Winter Hawks

All over New York City, wintering hawks are establishing themselves in various parks.  I've received emails about hawks on the Upper East Side, down in Washington Square Park, and Riverside Park in Manhattan, as well as other locations in Queens and Brooklyn.

This Cooper's Hawk seems to have settled into the Loch in Central Park, and looks like it might stay the winter.


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Red-tails, Cooper's and Screech-Owls

I walked up from the mid-70s to the North Woods to look for Screech-Owls and came along some interesting diversions along the way.  On a building at 89th Street and Central Park West was a Red-tailed Hawk.  This section of the park, west of the Reservoir, usually has a Red-tailed guest during the winter.  To my surprise there were two Red-tailed Hawks, something I'm not used to seeing here.

Then while waiting for it to get dark, a Cooper's Hawk dove into the Loch.  It caught a squirrel and ate it.  It's the first time I've seen a Cooper's Hawk with a squirrel.

Lastly, I was able to see and hear both of the North Woods resident Eastern Screech-Owls.  They've switched roosts, so we felt lucky to find them.

On the way out of the park, I saw that the Lasker Pool is now the Lasker Rink!  Another sign of the changing seasons.

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Cooper's Hawk

The North Woods of Central Park were very quiet on Saturday afternoon.  I had gone looking for Eastern Screech-Owls, who become harder to find this time of year, as they switch from tree top roost to cavity roosts.  The owls gave me the slip and I didn't hear them after dark.

The best bird I saw was this Cooper's Hawk hunting along the Loch.

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Sharp-shinned Hawk and Eastern Screech-Owl

While leaving the Wildflower Meadow, I flushed an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk by accident.  I was able to watch its wing beats and see its tail shape to confirm it was a Sharp-shinned, rather than a Cooper's Hawk.  It was just another reminder that summer was almost over.  The light was already starting to fail, so the pictures aren't that great.

It was great to see something completely unexpected.  Migrations season can be like that.  You think you know what to expect and then you'll see something unusual.

I did get to see one of the Eastern Screech-Owls in their roost tree.  They really seem to have settled down again now that most of the tree removal work is done.


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Madison Square Peregrine Falcons

Today one of my co-workers, called my office to tell me she could hear two Peregrine Falcons on the west side of my office building.  The falcons had already flown off by the time I got to her office, but from the east side of our office building, I was able to locate and photograph one of them high atop 41 Madison at 26th Street.

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Riverside and Broadway

I spent the early afternoon looking at the Riverside Red-tailed Hawk pair on Saturday.  There nest is just off the Hudson River near 8st Street and looks great.  Last year they laid eggs around mid-March, so the female should start sitting on the nest soon.

Other nests in Manhattan are doing well.  Inwood Hill Park, Highbridge Park, St. John the Divine and 5th Avenue nests are doing fine.  The Highbridge nest is back to its old spot.

The Central Park South pair is still there but I don't have any details about their nest.  The Houston female lost her mate last year, and may be nesting on the ConEd plant around 14th Street.  The pair that was around the City College campus remains a mystery.

Sightings of hawks this winter around the north end of Riverside Park and around the Court House buildings on Center Street make these locations possibilities for new nests this year.

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When leaving Riverside Park, check out the American Kestrels that have a scrape at 80th and Broadway.  One of them is usually on the building south of Zabar's or on the church at 79th and Broadway.
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Bald Eagles

During the winter, about an hour north of Manhattan on the Hudson River, you can find Bald Eagles.  On Saturday, Teatown’s Hudson River Eaglefest 2009 was held along the river.  I drove up with James O'Brien and Ben Cacace and we ended up seeing over sixty eagles!  (We might have actually seen more, but we didn't count the eagles we saw on the west side of the river to avoid double counting.)

We birded both sides of the river from Croton-on-Hudson on the east bank, up to George's Island and Bear Mountain and down as far as Haverstraw on the west bank.

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Early morning view from George's Island Park

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The view across the river from George's Island

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There was a nice mix of adult and juvenile eagles on the river.

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If you count closely, you'll see ten eagles out on the river.  This photo was taken about two miles south of Bear Mountain Bridge on the east side of the river.

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Fishing!

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More Fishing

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Eagles were not the only ones riding the ice, the Greater Cormorants were too.

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The Oven

The oven is a cove on the Lake of Central Park.  It attracts a good number of birds during each season, including the winter.

Today, there were a number of birds, including a Red-tailed Hawk, a Hermit Thrush, numerous Northern Cardinals, numerous Tufted Titmice, and a Cooper's Hawk that has been roosting in the same location nearby since at least early January.

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Central Park Hawks After The Snow

On Sunday, I spent the late afternoon looking for Long-eared Owls without success.  But I did run into a few hawks.

On the Beresford Apartments, was Pale Male in the oval window, and Lola soaking up the sun on a south facing ledge.

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This young hawk was in the Ramble making its way between the official and the not so official bird feeders looking for customers to eat.

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This Sharp-shinned Hawk, with prey in talons, was being chased by a Red-tailed Hawk near 69th Street and the West Drive.  The Sharp-shinned Hawk evaded the Red-tail and got away with its prey.  Everything happened too fast for me to capture the action, but it reminded me that winter is the time to see lots of raptors in New York City.

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Red-Shouldered Hawks in the Everglades

Red-Shouldered Hawks are rare visitors to Central Park, so it was a pleasure to see them in the Everglades over my Christmas/New Year's break while visiting Florida.

The first four photographs are of a juvenile bird, then some of two adults.  The last two are of an attack on an egret by a Red-shouldered Hawk at the Shark Valley Visitor's Center.  (I was the only one among about 30 visitors who noticed the attack.  I guess people being unaware of nature isn't only limited to the city!)

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Christmas Birds

I did some lazy birding in Central Park on Christmas Day.

I started out and ended up searching for owls, which were impossible to find today. The red phased Screech-Owl is only being found on very cold days.  Her alternative cavities haven't been discovered. 

The Screech-Owl from last season, either from the 60's or up in the North Wood, haven't been found either.  Nor have any Long-eared Owls stayed for more than a day, although two have been seen in the fall.

Between my owl searches, I did get to see a Cooper's Hawk, two Common Loons, some cute Hooded Mergansers and the "other" Red-headed Woodpecker (up by the tennis courts rather than in the Locust Grove).

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Thanksgiving Day

I went looking for Eastern-screech Owls today, but didn't have any luck finding them.  The familiar cavities and locations from last year, all turned up empty.  A few cavities even had squirrels where owls had been roosting last season.

The day wasn't a wash out however.  It included an adult Cooper's Hawk who led me from the Ramble to the Locust Grove. It also included two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks, who seem to get along just fine.  Both had just finished meals, and were in trees no more than 100 yards apart.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk and an Accipiter (Warning - Bird being eaten)

The Blue Jays in the park have been making lots of noise these last few weeks.  Most of the time it seems to be a false alarm, but this afternoon they were helpful.  They helped me find a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk and an Accipiter (either a Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk).  They were west of the Conservatory Garden and east of the Compost Heap.

All of the pictures but the last one are of the Red-tail.  It was eating something with a thin band on each leg.  I didn't stay long enough to see if they got swollowed.

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The Accipiter came swooping in and landed on the far side of the Conservatory fence and I couldn't get an I.D.  It flew west.  I ran after it but couldn't find it once I got up to the Compost Heap.


Cooper's Hawk

There was a Cooper's Hawk in the Ramble of Central Park today.  It was one of our first really crisp fall days, and we should have Cooper's Hawks in the park from now until Spring.  It was one of my first surprises, when I started bird watching in the park, that Central Park is the winter home of many birds.

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Pacific Coast Peregrine Falcons

Two young Peregrine Falcons were spending time on the cliff below the house we rented on the Pacific coast.  The larger of the two was always crying, while the smaller was quiet as can be.  It was just amazing to wake up to the sound of a Peregrine in the morning.

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Broadway Bridge Peregrine Falcon Family

The Broadway Bridge Peregrine Falcon family can be difficult to watch, since the bridge has two towers.  This makes it difficult to see everyone at once and figure out how many there are.

Luckily, after a rainstorm early Saturday evening all five could easily be counted and identified.  While I was there one of the parents feed one of the youngsters.  The parents don't bring the fledglings their food, but instead make them chase them and make them catch the food in mid-flight.  It's amazing to watch.  (The 1 train prevented me from taking photographs of the feeding unfortunately.)

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Inwood Hill and Broadway Bridge

I went up to Inwood Hill looking for the two fledglings, but could only find one of the parents.  Reports are that both fledglings have been exploring the park, and spent most of the week getting mobbed by smaller birds.  I hope to have better luck next weekend.

On the way back, I passed by Broadway Bridge.  I saw both parents, and one of the fledglings.  This is a fun site, since you can see the birds from the Number 1 train platform.  Only in New York City.

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Riverside Church Peregrine Falcons

I went by Riverside Church to see if the resident Peregrine Falcons had any fledglings yet. Since, I only saw the parents, I guess I was a week or two too early.

The parents were fun to watch as they weaved their way between the scaffolding.

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Zabar's American Kestrel

Across the street from Zabar's on the Upper West Side is an American Kestrel scrape. 

I was thrilled to find it because I was able to first identify the bird from two blocks away by looking at its silhouette and wing beat.  The Kestrel, a small falcon, then led me to its scrape (since Kestrel's don't build a "nest" but use a hollow, they're called scrapes).

Most urban hawks and falcons that nest in the city do so near a park.  American Kestrel's, however are our true urban birds not needing a park.  In New York City, they are everywhere often nesting, like this pair, just under a roof line behind a rusted out decorative eave molding.  They are all up and down Broadway on the west side.

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Broadway Bridge

I met James O'Brien up at Broadway Bridge to look at Peregrines and then go off to Inwood Hill Park.   We're both doing our late winter/early spring check up on our favorite local raptor nests.

We found both Peregrines.  One on the stadium lights of a Columbia University playing field, and the other on the north tower of the bridge.

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St. John's, Riverside and 888 Seventh Avenue Updates

The Cathedral of St. John as started a waterproofing project and put up scaffolding all around the nest.  While the work will be away from the nest, it is close by.  The timing of this project couldn't be worse, with egg laying in mid-March and hatching in April.  It will be interesting to watch this situation develop.  I'm afraid that the hawks might end up attaching workers if they get too close to an active nest later in the Spring.

James O'Brien has more photographs of the St. John's scaffolding, as well as news of similar repairs on Riverside Church on his blog.

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I've also gotten news of the 888 Seventh Avenue nest from Brett Odom, who has a view of the nest from his office.

"I just wanted to let you know that while I have not witnessed any copulation activities between Junior and Charlotte.  I can confirm that they have greatly increased their visits to the 888 7th Ave. nest site.  Until the last several days I could go weeks between sightings, but recently I have seen them visit the nest several times a day."