Friday, May 12, 2006

Part 3: Migrants and the Raptors who Love Them!

It is a fact that is not widely known: NYC has the largest concentration of nesting Peregrines in the world! On the island of Manhattan and it's crossings, there are 11 Peregrine scrapes, 4 pairs of nesting Red Tailed Hawks and at least 7 kestrel locations. This huge gathering is not an accident--abundant introduced species such as the English House Sparrow, European Starling and Rock Pigeons provide a ready food source. In addition to this fast food, migrating birds also provide an important supplement. This relationship extends even so far as the raptor nesting and fall migration seasons coinciding with major Passerine and Waterbird migratory events. Furthermore, in a fascinating parallel, I often find myself and these apex predators at similar points, perched high above the city on adjacent skyscrapers, me looking for my next photo, he looking for his next meal. New York City and the surrounding green spaces provide vital links not only in the migratory flyway between Canada and South America, but also for the resident raptor populations. Below I have a photographic chronicle of NYC raptor acivity during this period. We begin with a pair of Peregrines that I have been observing since 2002, the GM falcons. These birds have a very dense area, basically spanning from E. 62nd St. and 3rd Ave. to W. 47th and 6th Ave. I have often observed them hunting along the modernist canyons of 6th Ave, poaching pigeons above the holiday mid-town crowds. Despite rising gas prices, they continue on their way!

The male perched outside the scrape for long periods of time. Eventually, as night fell, he circle to the AXA building...

As the light faded, I remembered the huge grackle flock that roosts right by the fountain on 58th St. As numerous pigeons darted around the Waldorf, it occured to me that he may be waiting for those grackles to snack on!
In the north end of the park, I have been observing a pair of kestrels that nest on 112th st., but "commute" to various locations in the park. I picked up the male early one morning as he went out to work!

He was hunting hard...dipping his head and bobbing his tail. In a flash, he sprang from his perch,

As I wound my way around the great hill, many songbirds were in attendance. Suddenly, a hush descended over the valley. The resident male RTH, soared over the Blockhouse!

The kestrel came to incercept the intruder.

And their pas de deux began!

Over at the Point, an ESO (native, but in this case, also deliberately introduced), sat mutely as various warblers flitted about. I remebered a story once told to me by a frequent CP birder. As we waited for an ESO flyout, she told me of an Austrailan man who happened upon the ESO nest and was excited to have a lifer on his hands. Suddenly, a Norther Parula moved through the area, and the Aussie was further stoked to have another lifer. But immediately after, the ESO flew out, snagged the Parula and completed his NYC bird experience. All this one could manage...

was a laaazzzy...


Last but not least, the nesting pair of Peregrines at Riverside Church. Only the male is visible as the patrolled the scrape!

The Feast of St. Pigeon!

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