I didn’t begin the month thinking I would end up paying rigorous attention to the raptors I’d see, but the New Year’s Day appearance of a Peregrine Falcon zooming down 39th Street became, in retrospect, auspicious.
Below are the month’s raptor sightings, meaning individual birds may have been counted more than once, for instance the Cooper’s spotted around my neighborhood. All these birds were seen in Brooklyn, except of January 16’s sightings in the New York Botanical Garden. The richest days were weekends when I had a couple or more hours in the parks, but there were enough weekday sightings to keep things interesting, too. The flash of a raptor, a Cooper’s zooming overhead, a Red-tail circling in the sky, seem almost commonplace now, provided one’s eyes are on the alert.
Jan. 1: Peregrine over 39th St.
Jan. 3: Red-tailed over Gowanus
Jan. 4: Merlin perched above Long Meadow; Red-tailed over Long Meadow; Cooper’s over Greenwood Park bar, heading towards Green-wood; Cooper’s over Clinton St.
Jan. 10: Two Red-tailed over Terrace Bridge; Merlin perched over Nethermead
Jan. 11: Red-tailed flying to perch on St. Agnes
Jan. 15: Cooper’s over Court St.
Jan. 16: Cooper’s in Yew, 2 Red-tailed overhead, NYBG
Jan. 17: Peregrine over BK Heights, Pier 1, and BB; Cooper’s Hawk over Congress & BQE; Red-tailed over Quaker Ridge; Merlin, harried by Jays around Terrace Bridge, feeders; Peregrine perched on FDNY tower Wash Ave; Red-tailed perched atop St. Agnes
Jan. 19: Cooper’s Hawk perched on top of LICH building on Atlantic.
Jan. 22: 3 Red-tailed over Long Meadow: two circling each other another passing; Cooper’s perched by Terrace Bridge (same tree as Merlin, RTH in past)
Jan. 25: Bald Eagle low over Green-Wood, perching, breaking its bough! Red-tailed over perched Bald Eagle; Peregrine twice, zooming past Green-Wood gate; Red-tailed chasing Cooper’s over Degraw/Clinton
Jan. 29: Red-tailed hawk out back, (alerted by squirrel alarm); Red-tailed sailing low over Long Meadow
Jan. 30: Red-tailed hawk wheeling above 8th Ave & Union, heading towards Prospect.
Thirty one sightings, five species. The most unusual was the Bald Eagle. Also unusual: not a single Kestrel this month. I also didn’t make it to the city’s edges, where the occasional Red-shouldered Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk may sometimes be seen. Nonetheless, this is an average of one raptor sighting a day in New York City. I think that’s pretty remarkable. Note that I didn’t count two incidents: one bird was perched so far away I wasn’t sure enough to ID it (it was probably a Red-tailed). Another case of a distant Cooper’s in the air, could very possibly have been the one I’d seen perched half an hour before because it looked like it had had come from that general area.
The lesson here is keep your eyes on the sky. Also the sidewalk, too, of course. And remember, the more you look, the more you’ll see.