Friday, March 29, 2013

On the Rebound

Whether or not Screech Owls or Saw Whet Owls can survive in this labryinth of our City, American Kestrels have proven very successful. Over the years I've found them in every single neighborhood in New York. It is always awesome though to locate a nest after watching the birds for years. Back in 2010 I found the CCNY kestrels on Amsterdam Ave. They have moved locations each year since then, but always seem to produce a great crop of young. This year I found their new location and it is proving to be a great kestrel viewing area. Here' a sequence of the whole birds and bees routine. The Origin of Kestrels 2 The Origin of Kestrels The Origin of Kestrels 5 The Origin of Kestrels 1

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dead Birds of the Met

A few weeks ago I waxed poetic about the virtues of the Bird Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unfortunately today I was reminded of the opposite side of that coin. Namely, the highly reflective windows of the Met continue to be a death sentence for the Parks birds. Here's a brief tale of why I know this and what needs to be done to remedy the issue. A few weeks ago I located a NSWO in the stand of pines at the NW corner of the Met. NSWO He was so well hidden that I didnt report it to all but the Central Park Birds Flickr gallery. When I returned to check for it today, I found this freshly decapitated field mouse. Dead Mouse After methodically scanning each and every pine cone I could not relocate it there so I widened my search. Looking over at the corner of the Met, I got a sickening feeling. Dead NWSO Not two feet from the highly reflective plate glass window was the still soft body of the Saw-whet Owl. In the glass I could see the outline of where it had collided. WindowStrike As I picked it up I noticed the eyes were still wide open and there was blood coming from around its beak. All classic collision signs. It even still seemed to be in mid-wing beat. Dead NSWO 2 Dead NSWO 3 I called Ranger Rob and turned the bird over to Ranger Eric who will then forward the bird on to the NYSDEC for further analysis. It would be great if the NYSDEC can turn the heat up on the Met to reach out to the Audubon Society and myself to do a full audit of their glass and devise a simple, low cost solution to the problem such as decals, grids or screens. There's no reason the Met cant both preserve the beauty within and outside of their walls. As a final note, there was plenty more evidence that lots of birds are hitting that window. There are a few dead birds in the grate directly underneath the window and lots of outlines of collisions on the window itself.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Origin of Species: American Kestrel

In order to reproduce you need a good nest. Kestrels are tricky in that they switch sites from year-to-year. This time of year is a perfect opportunity to find them house shopping in every neighborhood. Listen for their calls. First the male inspects last years scrape. Kestrel Krib Kestrel Krib 2 Starling Killer She gives the final inspection. The Origin of Kestrels Origin of Kestrels Looks like we may have a winner! Kestrel Contrast Lots of prey around too! Kestrel vs Starlings

Friday, March 22, 2013

Harlem Nesters

Up at CCNY. CCNY_RTH Over at the Cathedral more nesting. IsoldeNestBreak And surprisingly the very whitish juvy hawk that been at the Meer paid the Cathedral a visit! Cathedral Juvy It was run off, but reappeared later. A few years ago I witnessed similar behavior where a last year's baby tries to go back to the nest. At Riverside the peregrines defending against all comers. Peregrine vs Crow Peregrine vs RTH Juvy BE With prey. Peregrine with Prey Terrible osprey pic! Osprey Last but no least, a leucistic robin in Morningside Park. Leucistic Robin Reminds me of someone I know! Peacock

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luck O'the Irish

The birds of fortune were with me today! Although the light wasnt great, the birds were there and I got to witness some great behaviors. Starting at the Cathedral, I caught Isolde going on a nest break. Cathedral Nest Break Cathedral Nest Break Next at Broadway Bridge the Peregrines were perched together near the scrape. Bway Peregrines I watched them hunt and defend their turf from all comers. Eventually one disappeared and I found it on the lights of Columbia Field. Bway Peregrine Looking at the pic I see this bird is unbanded. This shot from 2010 shows both adults were banded birds which leads to the inevitable conclusion that this is a new unbanded female. At Inwood Hill Park, we located the new Hawk nest and witnessed a nest exchange. Inwood RTHs The nest doesnt look super sturdy, but lets hope for the best. Finally back on my roof I noticed a small falcon a few blocks away. As I watched, a male kestrel showed up. I thought they might be a pair...nope. Turns out the kestrel was trying to shoe the merlin off. Running a few blocks the birds remained on their perch. Kestrel vs Merlin The kestrel did puff himself up a few times, but never directly threatened the merlin. After a while it tore down the block and spun down on some starlings. It seems to be in the area still so hopefully I can relocate it. In addition there were about 6 common ravens flying over 125th Street, northward at noon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nesting at the Cathedral

As always Isolde is in stealth mode. But now that the nest is bigger, it is possible to see her tail feathers jutting above the lip. In a few days when she starts brooding it may be impossible to see her, but the hawks are definitely nesting there again. Cathedral Nesting!

Monday, March 11, 2013

North Woods Owling

I couldnt make it to Robert's sighting last night, so I tried today to see if we could spot the Barred Owl. After searching the last know location I got a text that it had been re-found in the North Woods. As I got there a small group of photographers was shooting the bird in a gnarly old tree. North Woods Barred Its camo was working well but it was very alert as there were large numbers of hawks about. As we settled in to watch it was harassed by multiple birds like tit-mice, cardinals and the occasional Dee. Northwoods Barred Owl It was also buzzed by some photographers which made it very uneasy. Unfortunately one of them got too close and the bird flew from its gorgeous perch just as the sun arrived. I then took some personal time to let the situation de-escalate and then returned to the find the bird's new perch. After a while it became relaxed enough to preen and stretch. North Woods Barred Flyout was at 645. Barred Owl Flyout We followed it around the Loch as it flew from perch to perch, scanning the hill. Barred Owl Flyout It flew across the West Drive and drove a red-tailed hawk out of a large oak. We then stood slient as it dropped down to a tree stump beside the drive. Barred Owl Hunt Don't let this pic fool you, it was very dark (just look at the pupils) and was digging into a hole at the top. Barred Owl Hunt There was something in there, but we couldnt tell what. Whatever it was, the Owl couldnt grab it. After some trying, it hopped to a nearby tree, still focusing on the hole. Amazingly, it flew back and snagged whatever was in the hole! It was impossible to see what exactly it had but there was no noise so there is the chance it was cached by the owl earlier. Whatever the case, a frustrating but ultimately rewarding night of Owling in the Park. Great Hill Barred