Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jungle Gyms!

As the newest crop of babies takes to the air, an interesting paradox has emerged. The scaffolding that had jeopardized the nesting phase of their life has now become a playground that aids the youngsters as they learn to fly. At the Cathedral, the previous years fledges had already moved into the Park by this time. But these guys use the various nooks, crannies and ledges to linger near their nest.

At times they seem to return to the nest, but are frequently lured away by the parents. Who says you can never go back?
I wanted to see if the Riverside Church peregrine family was experiencing a similar situation with the scaffolding over there. On the way over, I encountered these two raucous juvenile downy woodpeckers, flitting over Broadway!

On arrival in Riverside Park, I noticed a family of crows keeping low in the park, feeding on mullberries.

Meanwhile over at the scrape, I discovered this juvy getting ready to fledge!

I also discovered these two eyass that already had!

They definitely showed the same affinity for the scaffolding, with the juvys flying to and fro through the structure. While there, I met a woman who has been watching them for about 10 years. She relayed alot of good information on their history. One interesting tidbit was that they young fledge every year on the summer solstice. This makes alot of sense in that it would give the young diurnal raptors the best opportunity to perfect their skills. But how do the parents time such an event? Only Nature knows!
Last but not least, these new crop of pigeons growing fast outside my window!

Nature Takes Its Course

Now that the fledging picture here in NYC has crystalized, I will be posting a little less frequently. That being said, there is still a ton of action going on as well as reports on everything that has happened up till now. To start with, here are the final redtailed hawk and peregrine tallies for nesting season 2008. Anyone with additional info, please write in.

Houston St.: 3 eyass (all survived and had to be rescued)
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine: 2 eyass (both survived and are doing well).
Inwood Hill: 3 eyass (at least two survived and are doing well).
Triborough Bridge: 2 eyass (only one survived due to the poor location of fledges. They both needed to be rescued.)
Briarwood: 3 eyass (all survived).
Fordham University: 3 eyass (all survived).
Prospect Park: 3 eyass (2 survived).
Greenwood Cemetary: 2 eyass (both survived and are doing well).

888 7th Ave.: ?
Unisphere Flushing Meadow: ?
Pelham Park: ?
Van Cortland Park: ?
Highbridge Park: ?
79th St.: ?

Peregrine Falcons:
Metlife: 2 eyass (both survived fledging)
55 Water St.: 4 eyass (all survived fledgling)
Riverside Church: 3 eyass (all survived)
Broadway Bridge: 3 eyass (all survived fledgling).

Verrazano Bridge: ?
Nassau Collesium: ?
Jersey City: ?
Pulaski Skyway: ?
Presbyterian Hospital: ?

Coming next...kestrels!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Inwood Hill

Following up on reports that the Inwood Hill redtails have begun to fledge, myself and Adam headed over there after visiting Broadway Bridge to see if we could find any signs. As we came up to the Park, there was tons of activity both human and avian. Approaching Smuggler's Cove, I scanned for any waterbirds and was shocked to see one of the eyass huddled beneath the landing dock.

It was standing on a small log, half submerged! Needless to say, we were very concerned, so we located one of the rangers who assured us that the young bird could fly fairly well and would be ok. In addition, we learned that there was also a second fledge somewhere else in the Park. We decided to stay with this guy even though a huge thunderstorm had begun to move through.

There were all kinds of birds on the dock harassing the hawk. It was really a democracy of anger...with grackles, robins and even barn swallows joining in the harassment!

Here he gets buzzed by one of the swallows!

Eventually, the hawk lit off and landed in a tree overlooking the meadow.

Where it bounded around from tree to tree as even more bird came to mob. At one point a mocker, catbird, grackle and robin were all taking turns!

We then ran for cover as the lightning became more intense. After about 20 minutes, someone came to the ranger station saying that one of the young had landed in the street. We emerged to find it in a tree over the water. Again, there was a mob of about 20 birds harassing the poor guy.
There was this first year adult male oriole...

there was this adult male orchard oriole...

then there was all three!

Here's a composite of the orchard oriole taking a few swipes!

Later on, I did locate the oriole nest.

Peregine Fledgling Updates

Now that almost all active raptor nests that I'm following have fledged, here's an update on the totals for peregrines so far.
55 Water: 4 successful fledges
MetLife: 2 successful fledges
Broadway Bridge: 3 successful fledges
Columbia Presbyterian:???
Riverside Church:???
Jersey City:???
Verrazano Bridge: ???
Marine Mid-Land Bridge: ???

Swinging by Riverside Church, I still have not seen any young here, but there remains ample evidence that there are eyasses in the scrape. I continually find both parents buzzing the nest and displaying food, seemingly trying to lure the young birds out.

Here's the female outside the scrape (center with Lion's head), calling to the nest.

Meanwhile up at Broadway Bridge, I still have not been able to tell if the rescue of the young peregrine was successful. When I arrived, I quickly spotted one parent and one juvy, hiding among the stairwell of the south tower.

While another adult flew in with prey for another youngster.

Who then promptly took off...

Here they chase each other around the bridge!

Later I watched in amazement as the adult male lit out over Kingsbridge to pursue pigeons!

He tore down at a group, forcing them to scatter. They wheeled and spun over Target, but the falcon had missed! It returned to the bridge, but there wasnt enough light to focus...

Instead of landing however, it did a tight turn...

and homed in on a perched pigeon!

Reap, indeed!
Flying off with the prize.

The light was fading and I hopped on the train to go home. As the 1 pulled into the 215th St. stop, I heard a peregrine calling above Inwood Hill! I exited the train on the platform, and saw both parents repeatedly diving on a building and calling. I could not see what they were so upset about, but one of the juveniles was there also.

The female made pass after pass, ignoring all sorts of prey that was flushed...such as this swift.

She finally lit out towards the bridge after some 20 minutes.

I said a special prayer for this family, and all raptor families, as they continue to beat the odds in this unforgiving City.

PS It seems that the one of the pioneers in urban Peregrine nesting--the Kodak Building, up in Rochester, N--is going to destroy the scrape after all these years. I sincerely hope they reconsider their decision and I urge all bird lovers to boycott Kodak products until they change their stance.